Some of the most common causes of traffic fatalities in California

Someone drinking and driving

California is not immune to traffic fatalities. In fact, the west coast state experienced 3,602 traffic fatalities in 2017. Deaths occur on the roads of many cities in California including cities like Oakland and San Diego. The causes for these fatalities are often preventable yet they still happen. People who have lost loved ones due to traffic fatalities may be left wondering about the cause of death.

Below are some of the reasons for traffic fatalities in California. Keep in mind that these are not all of the reasons but some of the most common from northern California to southern California. These causes of fatal accidents can happen in any city like Poway or San Luis Obispo.

Aging drivers

Compared to the other 49 states, California has the most licensed aging road users. There are 3.8 million drivers over the age of 65 and fatal crashes increase among aging adults between the ages of 70-74. On a national scale, an average of about 20 older adults are killed in crashes every day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why are aging road users involved in fatal driving incidents? Older adults over 65 years of age experience different changes such as reduced vision, decreased strength, and cognitive impairment. Poor vision and slower reflexes are a dangerous combination for drivers and passengers. Aging adults who experience these changes are not able to safely operate vehicles on the road.

Distracted driving

Unfortunately, not everyone operating a vehicle on the road is paying attention as they should. Distractions are at the top of the list of leading causes with alcohol and speeding in fatal crashes. Here are the three factors for distracted driving:

  • Visual: Not looking at the road

  • Manual: Not having hands on the steering wheel

  • Cognitive: Not mentally focused while driving

3,450 people were killed across the nation due to distracted driving. More than 80% of Californias identify texting and cell phone usage as the top reasons for people being distracted while driving.

Alcohol-impaired driving

Alcohol-related crashes are one of the leading causes of death for people ages 15 to 24. In 2017, there were 1,120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in California. The only other state that had more alcohol-impaired driving fatalities than California in 2017 was Texas with 1,468.

Majority of the fatal/severe injury crashes due to alcohol impairment were in southern and central California. Fatal alcohol-impaired accidents have a higher probability of happening in urban areas compared to rural roads.

Drug-impaired driving

Sometimes combined with alcoholic drinks, drugs have been the cause of dangerous driving. The drugs involved in these drug-impaired accidents include over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs. 11% of all drivers killed in car accidents tested positive for the use of illegal and/or legal drugs in 2017.

Call Huntsman Law Injury Law for a free consultation

If you've lost a loved one due to a traffic fatality because of someone's actions, call Roy Huntsman of Huntsman Injury Law at (888) 728-8112 or send an email to You can receive a free consultation with no obligation.

Huntsman Injury Law provides legal services for people who have wrongfully lost a loved one all throughout California. For more information on what qualifies as a wrongful death claim, read this blog post.


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