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Office of Traffic Safety

California Traffic Safety Score Card – 2008



In 2008, California’s traffic fatalities decreased 13.6% (3,974 vs 3,434) - reaching their lowest level since the federal government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975. In 2007, traffic fatalities dropped 6.2%, which then represented the largest single year reduction since 1996-97.**

California’s 2007 Mileage Death Rate of 1.18 (traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) -  is the lowest rate since California began calculating the rate in 1946 - Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System *



Alcohol related fatalities dropped 8.3% from 1,762 in 2006 to 1,616 in 2007 – first year to year decrease since 1997-98.**

Alcohol Impaired Driving Fatalities (fatalities in crashes involving a least one driver or motorcycle operator with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater) decreased  9.5% from 1,276 in 2006 to 1,155 in 2007 - represents California’s first year to year reduction since 1997-98.**

Statewide DUI arrests increased 3.4% from 197,248 in 2006 to 203,866 in 2007 – represents the most DUI arrests since 1994 – Department of Justice.

Occupant Protection


California’s 2008 seat belt usage rate is 95.7% - up from 94.6%, in 2007 - means 356,697 more people buckled up in 2008. California’s seat belt use rate is significantly better than the national average of 83%. Only four states have a higher seat belt use rate – Michigan 97.2%, Hawaii 97.0%, Washington 96.5%, and Oregon 96.3%. NHTSA estimates that 1,791 Californian lives were saved at the current seat belt use rate.

In California, the percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (all seat positions) decreased from 37% in 2006 to 36% in 2007, much better than the national average of 50% - no state had a better usage rate than California.  In 2007, about half, 429, of the 857 known unrestrained fatalities would be alive today had they simply buckled up.**

California’s child safety seat usage rate reached a record high of 94.4% in 2008 - up from 87.7% in 2007. 

Teen Safety


Drivers age 20 or younger involved in fatal crashes dropped 16.4% from 727 in 2006 to 608 in 2007.**

In 2007, the percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant “teenaged” fatalities was 46% - the best in the nation. Since restraints are about 50% effective in preventing a fatality, NHTSA estimates that 66 dead California teens would be alive today had they simply buckled up.**

Alcohol impaired (BAC of .08 or greater) driver fatalities age 16-19 dropped 22% from 209 in 2006 to 163 in 2007.**

Motorcycle Safety


Motorcycle fatalities continued to spiral upward from 517 in 2007 to 554 in 2008.** Motorcycle fatalities have increased for 10 consecutive years and are at their highest level since 1990.

In 2007, the 20-29 age group had the largest increase in motorcycle fatalities (up 19% from135 in 2006 to 160 in 2007. Motorcycle fatalities under age 20 dropped 52% from 27 in 2006 to 13 in 2007.**

In 2007, 36% of motorcycle operators killed were not properly licensed – up from 35% in 2006.**

Of the 517 motorcyclists killed, at least 13% (68) were un-helmeted. Since helmets are about 39% effective in preventing fatalities, NHTSA estimates that 26 of the 68 un-helmeted motorcyclists killed would have survived had they worn a helmet.**

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety


Pedestrian fatalities dropped 11% from 717 in 2006 to 640 in 2007.** This is the lowest annual tally of pedestrian fatalities since the federal government began recording fatality statistics in 1975.

Bicycle fatalities decreased sharply (23%) from 141 in 2006 to 109 in 2007.**

California Traffic Safety Laws Highest in the Nation


In a report released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in April 2009, California was given the highest rating in the nation for laws pertaining to DUI, Young Driver Licensing, Seat Belt Use, Child Restraint Use, Motorcycle Helmet Use, and Red Light Cameras.

Previous Years


*Data Source ' Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS)
**Data Source ' Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

Updated April 16, 2009