What Causes Traffic Fatalities in California - Adamson Ahdoot

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What Are The Leading Causes of Traffic Fatalities in California?

December 22, 2022 Alan Ahdoot
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As a driver, fatal car accidents are the last thing you want to happen to you or your family. But the truth is, traffic fatalities are more common than we think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that traffic fatalities increased by 5% during the first nine months of 2020. But, which state had the most car accidents that year? According to the data, traffic fatalities in California were the highest in the country.

Recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that California had the most fatal crashes in the US, with 3,558 recorded incidents and 3,847 fatalities during that year. Various reasons, from impaired driving to speeding, cause these fatal tragedies–some are more common than others. 

Suppose you or your loved ones were recently involved in a vehicular incident and want to recover damages. In that case, understanding the root cause of the accident is the first step to take. When you consult a car accident lawyer, they’ll need to know how the accident happened to build a solid claim.

To help you recover your losses and keep safe while on the road, we’ve looked into what the leading cause of traffic fatalities in California is.

Four Leading Causes of Traffic Accidents in California

There are four common reasons why fatal car accidents are so prevalent in the Golden State.

Drunk Driving

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) says that drunk driving is one of the state’s most prevalent causes of traffic deaths, causing more than 12,000 fatal incidents every year. And 29% of these tragedies involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08%.

When drivers drink alcohol before driving, their brain functions and judgment are impaired. Additionally, it clouds their reasoning skills and muscle coordination–both of which are vital to ensuring a safe and secure driving experience.

According to the NHTSA, it doesn’t take much alcohol to compromise a person’s driving abilities.

While California’s legal BAC limit is .08, reports from the NHTSA recorded 1,775 deaths in alcohol-related incidents wherein the at-fault drivers had a BAC ranging from .01 to .07. The study reveals that with a BAC of .02, drivers may experience some loss of judgment and bodily functions.

police pull over a driver
Keep safe on the road by avoiding the most common causes of traffic accidents in California.


Speeding is another one of the most common causes of traffic incidents across the country. Nationally, speeding has killed at least 9,378 individuals in the last few years, contributing to one-third of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in the past two decades.

Furthermore, insurance institutes have found that speeding results in more severe and catastrophic incidents.

And because of this, safety officials strictly advise drivers to follow speed limits when traveling. Driving too fast increases the risk of motorists losing control of their vehicles.

Additionally, higher speeds significantly reduce the driver’s reaction times, increasing the risk of fatality for everyone involved in the crash.

Distracted Driving

With the new technology featured in modern cars, drivers have become more distracted than ever.

Authorities from the California OTS believe that while the exact number of traffic fatalities caused by distracted drivers is unknown, lack of alertness while driving makes up to 80% of the traffic incidents that occur in the state.

Some of the most common activities that lead to distracted driving include:

  • Talking or texting on cell phones and other similar devices
  • Grooming themselves
  • Eating while driving

Certain states have implemented regulations to lower the number of distractions motorists have to deal with, but it’s difficult to fully eradicate these behaviors.

Careless Driving

When drivers fail to follow California’s traffic laws, car accidents happen. Two common mistakes motorists make are failure to yield the right of way and inability to stay in the right lane. These two errors are most associated with fatal crashes.

A survey from the Insurance Information Institute (III) shows that around 6.8% of drivers exhibiting the above behaviors were involved in severe car accidents in 2020. Additionally, 4.2% of incidents during that year were caused by failure to obey traffic signs and signals.

Improper turning is another reckless driving behavior that increases the risk of fatality among bicyclists and pedestrians. If motorists violate any regulation around turns or fail to use their signals when making turns, it leaves other drivers oblivious to where the at-fault party is going.

Hold Reckless Drivers Responsible

As a driver, you may try your best to obey California’s laws and prevent car accidents, but the same cannot be said for other motorists. Suppose you or your family has been a victim of careless driving or any of the driving behaviors mentioned earlier. In that case, a car accident attorney can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.

Adamson Ahdoot’s team of skilled car accident lawyers offers the attention to detail of a boutique firm with the resources and expertise of a larger one.

Our legal representatives will help ease the stress and confusion associated with civil cases and protect your interests throughout the process, from start to finish.

Our team is committed to putting people first and proudly serving a diverse clientele. We offer free English and Spanish consultations for Californians involved in traffic accidents. Adamson Ahdoot is a full-service civil litigation firm with over 100 years of combined legal experience handling personal injury cases.

Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with a premier car accident attorney.

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Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

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