Dramatic Increase in Berkeley Traffic Collision Deaths in 2021 - Adamson Ahdoot LLP

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Dramatic Increase in Berkeley Traffic Collision Deaths in 2021

March 7, 2022 Robert Jalon

Bay Area town sees the highest number of traffic deaths since at least 1984.

Data collected by the Berkeley Police Department revealed some shocking statistics concerning the city’s 2021 traffic-related injuries and deaths. A Berkeley PD report states traffic collisions in 2021 were up 34% from the previous year. Of the crashes that occurred last year, approximately 433 were injury-inducing, which was a 37% increase over 2020.

It proves urban cities like Berkeley are struggling with an increase in injury-inducing traffic crashes. According to statistics released by the Department of Transportation (DOT), over 6,500 people were tragically killed at urban intersections in 2019 compared to less than 2,500 at rural intersections nationwide. Speeding is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents occurring in urban areas, reports the DOT.

Credit: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (USDOT FHWA)
This data is extracted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS).

The city also had the highest amount of traffic collision-related deaths in decades. In 2021, eight people were tragically killed in traffic accidents. Of the eight victims, five were pedestrians. Some other interesting statistics revealed by the police department’s report, include:

  • Approximately 21% of the victims injured in traffic accidents were bicyclists.
  • About 14% of injury victims were pedestrians.
  • The most common cause of Berkeley’s traffic accidents was unsafe speed.
  • The three most dangerous intersections in the city fall along Ashby Avenue – at San Pablo Avenue, Shattuck Avenue, and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
  • Four of the five pedestrians tragically killed in last year’s accidents were struck on or near Ashby Avenue.

The increase in traffic deaths isn’t just a Berkeley problem, but a worsening issue nationwide. And with an increase in bike fatalities and pedestrian deaths as well, safety has become a top priority for transportation officials. “This is a national crisis. We cannot and must not accept these deaths as an inevitable part of everyday life,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.


To reduce traffic collision-related deaths and injuries, the city unanimously voted to spend $8.3 billion in what’s being called the Southside Complete Streets Projects. The project will turn four of the city’s streets, including Telegraph Avenue, into a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly plaza. Although the city has not decided whether to move forward with the idea, city council members are considering closing streets to turn the area into the “West Coast’s Times Square.” Berkeleyside reports the city is also working across multiple departments to end traffic fatalities and severe injury crashes by 2028 as part of a national campaign called Vision Zero.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a useful resource to learn more about pedestrian and street safety. For more information about different types of traffic collisions that can occur and the next steps when you’ve been involved, Adamson Ahdoot’s car accident page can help guide you.

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