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Leading Causes of Car Accident Deaths In California

January 27, 2023 Car Accidents

There are a wide variety of reasons why car accidents happen, but the leading causes of traffic fatalities in California include the following. 

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Traveling above the posted speed limit or too fast for roadway conditions is a primary cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities in California. In 2020, speeding contributed to 1,228 car accident deaths. The higher the speed a vehicle is traveling, the more forceful the impact and the risk of severe or deadly injuries for all involved.

Impaired Driving

California ranks as the second highest state for alcohol-impaired accident fatalities, responsible for 1,159 deaths in 2020. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even prescription medication, can dramatically impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. It often leads to increased risk-taking and poor decision-making, such as speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and reckless maneuvers. Vision and hearing are also often altered, and reaction times are slower. Intoxicated drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of over 0.10 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than sober drivers. 

Distracted Driving

In 2021, there were 96 people killed in California accidents caused by distracted driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine people die in distracted driving accidents every day in the U.S. Getting distracted while behind the wheel can be catastrophic, even if it is only for a second. Distractions while driving can be broken down into these three categories:

  • Visual distractions: Cause you to look away from the road.
  • Manual distractions: Requires you to take a hand off the steering wheel.
  • Cognitive distractions: Anything that causes you to lose focus on the task of driving.

Common forms of distractions include using cell phones, eating, daydreaming, talking to passengers, using GPS, changing the music, etc. Tragically, these accidents are 100% preventable. 

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving can involve a combination of reckless behaviors, such as speeding, weaving through traffic, abrupt and unsignaled lane changes, failing to yield the right-of-way, disobeying traffic signs and signals, and others. All of which can easily cause a single-vehicle accident or a collision with another driver. 

Drowsy Driving

Fatigued drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision, as driving while tired can result in behaviors similar to being impaired. For example, drowsy drivers can begin to fall asleep at the wheel and may accidentally drift into another lane of traffic, follow a vehicle too closely, or find it challenging to concentrate and run a stop sign or red light. With these effects, it is common for drowsy driving to be responsible for catastrophic accidents and fatalities. 

Road Conditions

Dangerous road conditions often contribute to deadly collisions, especially when drivers do not appropriately adjust speed or increase their following distance. Wet roads and inclement weather, such as snow or heavy winds, construction zones, missing or confusing road signs, faded lines, and potholes, are just some examples of dangerous road conditions that contribute to fatal collisions in California. If you have been in a car accident, please reach out to the accident attorneys in San Diego today!