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Office of Traffic Safety

California Traffic Safety Score Card - 2009



In 2008, California’s traffic fatalities decreased 14.1% (3,995 vs 3,434) - reaching their lowest level since the federal government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975. The 14.1% decrease in fatalities represents the largest ever single year drop in fatalities.**

California’s 2008 Mileage Death Rate of 1.02 (traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) is the lowest rate since California began calculating the rate in 1946.*



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 9.1% from 1,132 in 2007 to 1,029 in 2008. Since 2005, alcohol impaired fatalities have dropped a staggering 20.1%**

In 2008, 30% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol impaired driving fatalities (includes all fatalities involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a BAC of .08 or greater). California is better than the national average of 32%.**

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 Motor Vehicles. Preliminary statewide 2008 DUI arrests from the Department of Justice indicate DUI arrests are at their highest level since 1993.

California’s statewide DUI conviction rate for 2006 is 79%. DMV Annual DUI MIS Report - January 2009

Occupant Protection


California’s 2009 seat belt usage rate is 95.3% - slightly down from 95.7% in 2008. NHTSA estimates that 1,424 Californian lives were saved at the current seat belt use rate.

In California, the percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (all seat positions) increased from 36% in 2007 to 38% in 2007. California is much better than the national average of 55% and only Oregon at 35% has a better rate than California. NHTSA estimates that about half or 351of the 702 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% in 2008, but dropped to 91% in 2009. 

Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities age 0-8 decreased 50% from 84 in 2007 to 42 in 2008.**

Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities age 4 and under dropped 42% from 49 in 2007 to 25 in 2008.**

Teen Safety


Drivers age 20 or younger involved in fatal crashes dropped 14% from 609 in 2007 to 527 in 2008.**

In 2008, the percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant “teenaged” fatalities was 37% - of the 5 largest states in terms of total traffic fatalities, (CA, FL, TX, GA, & NC), California has the best rate. Since restraints are about 50% effective in preventing a fatality, NHTSA estimates that 42 dead California teens would be alive today had they simply buckled up.**

Teen driver fatalities (age 16-19) decreased 5% from 162 in 2007 to 154 in 2008. Males make up 77% of teen driver fatalities. Since 2005, teen driver fatalities have dropped 30%.**

Teen motor vehicle fatalities (age16-19) decreased 16% from 345 in 2007 to 290 in 2008. Since 2005, teen motor vehicle fatalities have dropped 34%.**

Motorcycle Safety


Motorcycle fatalities continued to spiral upward from 518 in 2007 to 560 in 2008.** Motorcycle fatalities have increased 10 consecutive years and are at their highest level since 1990.

Total motorcycle registrations increased 7% from 772,524 in 2007 to 824,244 in 2008. (DMV)

In 2008, the under age 20 age group had the largest increase in motorcycle fatalities (up 57% from 13 in 2007 to 30 in 2008 with the second highest increase seen in the over age 59 age group which increased 44% percent from 32 in 2007 to 57 in 2008.**

In 2008, 37% of motorcycle operators killed were not properly licensed – up from 36% in 2007.**

Of the 560 motorcyclists killed, at least 12% (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.**

In 2008, 70% of motorcycle operators killed were at fault and 58% of motorcycle operators injured were at fault.*

The percent of motorcycle operators killed with a BAC =.08+ increased from 24% in 2007 to 26% in 2008.**

Super sport motorcycles, defined as consumer versions of the motorcycles used by factory racing teams, account for 14% of the registered motorcycles in California, yet the 211 super sport drivers and passengers killed in 2008 accounted for 38% of the 560  motorcyclists killed in California.**

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety


Pedestrian fatalities dropped 5% from 650 in 2007 to 620 in 2008.** This is the lowest annual tally of pedestrian fatalities since the federal government began recording fatality statistics in 1975.

Pedestrian fatalities age 65 and older dropped 31% from 177 in 2007 to 123 in 2008.** 

Bicycle fatalities remained unchanged at 109 in 2008.**

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 October 16, 2009