What Are the Leading Causes of Traffic Deaths in California?

by Staff | May 31st, 2021

Traffic accidents often lead to fatalities and can devastate a family in seconds. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), during the first nine months of 2020, traffic deaths across the country increased almost 5% over 2019 statistics.

In California, over 3,000 deaths occur each year due to traffic accidents, often resulting from someone else’s negligence and reckless driving. When this happens to one of your loved ones, seeking legal advice is necessary to determine whether you can file a claim to get the compensation you need to move forward with your life and hold the negligent party responsible for their actions.

Berg Injury Lawyers has been assisting car accident victims and their families since 1981, and we understand the California laws surrounding them. We know how to thoroughly review and evaluate your case and advise you of your options, negotiate with the insurance companies, and, if necessary, file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf.

Negligent behaviors of others abound when sliding behind the steering wheel of a vehicle. As a result, too many fatalities occur. In California, these negligent behaviors range from excessive speeding to several forms of distracted driving.

Leading Causes of Traffic Deaths in California

While many causes can contribute to a traffic accident, there are several which stand out in California as the leading causes of traffic deaths.


Driving too fast for the roadway conditions or excessive speeding are leading causes of traffic fatalities across the country and California. The IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) reports that speeding results in more severe accidents, often leading to catastrophic occurrences.

At higher speeds, a driver’s reaction time reduces, as does their overall control of the vehicle. As speed increases, so does the force of impact, creating a hazardous situation for other drivers. Attempts to slow down or stop to avoid a crash are limited, which increases the risk of deadly injury to all involved.


Driving while impaired is widespread and often leads to severe accidents. Impairment can be caused by alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs and can prevent the driver from acting responsibly, leading to thousands of crashes each year.

Alcohol impairment means that a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. According to compiled statistics by the Centers for Disease Control, every 50 minutes, a death in a motor vehicle crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurs in the United States.

Drug impairment, whether from legal or illegal drugs, also contributes to deadly accidents each year. Prescription medications often lead to drowsiness, affecting the driver’s ability to drive responsibly, while illegal drug impairment often reduces reaction time or causes loss of attention.

Driver Distraction

With the advancement of technology, people’s attention is pulled in all directions, and this often leads to drivers who attempt to multi-task behind the wheel.

Driver distraction encompasses various activities, and new technology is only one cause of distraction. Examples of activities leading to distraction include:

  • Talking, texting, or internet browsing on a cell phone or other device
  • Talking or arguing with other passengers in the vehicle
  • Eating while driving
  • Grooming while driving
  • Distracted by other objects in the vehicle

While regulations exist to lower the number of distractions, it’s challenging to remove them entirely. For example, hands-free cell phones are helpful but don’t eliminate the overall distraction.

Careless Driving

Failing to adhere to common traffic laws often leads to accidents. Two that top the list of common causes of traffic deaths are failure to yield the right-of-way and the inability to keep to the proper lane. Failing to obey traffic signals and signs also contributes to deadly crashes daily.

While doing your part to follow traffic laws, others may not show you and your loved ones the same courtesy. Always be on the lookout for those careless drivers and give yourself plenty of time and space to react to their negligent actions. When you cannot do so, and injury or death occurs, you need to consider all your options.

Though filing a legal claim with experienced California car accident attorneys won’t bring your loved one back to you, it can provide peace of mind by bringing those responsible to justice and compensation for you and your family.

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers to Arrange Your Free Consultation

Thousands of traffic accidents occur in California every year, leading to fatalities. When this happens to your family or loved one, the California car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers are here to help you achieve the justice you deserve and get you the compensation you need. If you’d like to speak to an attorney, contact our law office for a complimentary, no-obligation case review.