Where Do Most Car Accidents Occur in California?

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Car accidents and injuries can and do happen anywhere, and that is more true of California than most states. California has a statewide population of over 39 million people, with approximately 250,000 car accidents happening each year and 3,700 of those involving fatalities. Given the prevalence of car accidents in California, can we pinpoint where car accidents are most commonplace and why? Historical data provides some answers that this article will summarize. If you’ve been in a car accident recently, please don’t hesitate to contact a knowledgeable San Mateo County, California car accident lawyer right away to learn more about where car accidents most commonly occur and how our firm can help if you’ve been wrongfully injured in one.

California Car Accidents Statistics and Possible Causes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California has one of the highest accident rates in the country. Of the 250,000 car accidents in 2019, the NHTSA reported 2,738 deaths. While the national average of deaths per 100,000 people is 4.4, California has an average of 5.3. In just 2018 to 2019, collisions resulting in injuries increased 16%.

There are a few reasons why this might be. Many roads are unpaved and unsafe, with potholes and debris, as a result of limited government spending on road maintenance. The number of tourist attractions in California may also attract more vacationers, who in turn may have a more relaxed attitude, both from in-state travel and out-of-state travel. Other risk factors include difficulty driving during the insufficient lighting of nighttime, texting while driving, and driving under the influence. People with preexisting medical conditions like epilepsy may also be at a higher risk for car accidents. To mitigate these concerns, California usually requires teenagers and senior citizens to receive additional training and testing before they are granted their licenses.

Where Car Accidents Most Frequently Occur

There are a few places where car accidents tend to reoccur.

Near the victim’s home or neighborhood

This one should not be a big surprise. The majority of car accidents occur within 25 miles of the victim’s home, because that is the space where people drive most.

Rural roads, but also Los Angeles

In many parts of the country, a majority of accidents happen in rural areas. The NHTSA estimates that 56% of car accidents take place on rural roads while only 46% happen in urban areas. California bucks that trend.

Based on the principle in the section above, the high concentration of the population in urban Golden State areas may contribute to a correspondingly higher percentage of accidents where a large percentage of people live. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported 251,000 injuries in 2019. In terms of accidents involving property damage or injuries, the largest percentage of these happened in metropolitan areas. Los Angeles County in particular had a noticeably high percentage of car accidents with property damage and bodily harm.


Intersections are frequent places of accidents, relying as these spaces do on drivers not making a mistake at a traffic light or stop sign, offering appropriate signs and signals to other drivers, and yielding the right of way.

Parking lots

Parking lots are another space where a high number of cars are stationed. Sometimes car accidents in parking lots occur with regard to unoccupied parked cars, but it may happen that two moving vehicles or pedestrians may also become involved.

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