What We Can Learn From 2020 California Car Accident Statistics

Author picture
As 2020 ends, we should look back at some noteworthy auto accident data that can inform us about trends to look out for in the upcoming year. With speeding, driving under the influence, and other dangerous driving practices on the rise, it’s important to be mindful of our safety in the new year.

As 2020 closes and a new year begins, it’s worth taking a look at some noteworthy auto accident data and what it means for California drivers. Although fewer cars were on the road in the spring of 2020, many drivers saw these open freeways as an invitation to speed. From a significant uptick in the number of speeding tickets issued to a recent report that declared California to be among the top five states with the worst drivers in the nation, here are a few key findings from auto accident and traffic safety data to help us understand how to better protect ourselves in the new year.

Are California Drivers Really the Worst in the Country?

According to SmartAsset, California is among the top five states with the worst drivers in the country. This calculation was based on four metrics, including the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven; the number of DUI arrests per 1,000 drivers; the percentage of insured drivers; and how often state residents googled “speeding ticket” or “traffic ticket.” All of the data was pulled from the year between May 2019 and May 2020. California ranked number 5 on this list, as it has the twelfth highest number of DUI arrests and the lowest percentage of insured drivers. Also, state residents were 1.7 times more likely to google the terms “speeding ticket” and “traffic ticket” than they were to google “gasoline.” While these metrics hardly offer a complete picture of the attentiveness of California drivers, they do suggest that many residents may not always adhere to safe driving practices.

Speeding Tickets Increased Dramatically

One of the first major trends to emerge from the stay-at-home orders issued in mid-March of 2020 was the uptick in the number of speeding tickets issued by California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers. For the period between March 19 and April 19 of 2020, CHP issued 87 percent more speeding citations to drivers traveling at a speed of 100 miles per hour or more than during the same window in 2019. During this same period, there was a 35 percent decline in traffic volume, so those who were on the roads may have been more tempted to travel at excessive speeds. Auto accidents involving high speeds are more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Auto Accident Fatalities Rose in 2020

Between February 3 and April 27 of 2020, statistics revealed that there was a 19 percent decrease in the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in California. Additionally, the number of minor injury vehicle crashes per 100 million VMT between March 23 through June 8 dropped by 29 percent. However, while the number of auto collisions involving minor injuries fell, the number of fatal and severe traffic accidents rose by 15 percent. With state residents stressed about their health and finances, alcohol sales increased by 24 percent, which may have led to more reckless and negligent behavior behind the wheel. Accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians also rose during this period, as the number of people traveling by foot or bike increased during the pandemic. As we move into 2021, it’s important to note that while hope is on the horizon, many of the efforts to curb the pandemic are still in place. Any time we venture out on the road, we need to be conscious of reckless driving behaviors so that we can keep ourselves and others as safe as possible.


If you’ve suffered an injury as the result of an auto accident in the Temecula or Murrieta area, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today at (951) 489-3320 to discuss your options with a knowledgeable auto accidents attorney.

Blog Home