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Office of Traffic Safety

California Traffic Safety Score Card


(Revised 2/16/12)

In 2010, California’s traffic fatalities decreased 11.9 percent (3,081 vs. 2,715) – reaching their lowest level since the federal government began recording traffic fatalities in 1975.

California 2009 Mileage Death Rate (MDR) – fatalities per 100 million miles traveled is 0.95, and marks the first time California has been below 1.0. California is much better than the national 1.14 MDR.


(Revised 2/16/12)

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (fatalities in crashes involving a driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or greater) dropped by 14.4 percent from 924 in 2009 to 791 in 2010.  The 2010 figure is the lowest DUI death total ever.

California’s alcohol-impaired driving fatality rate dropped from 0.31 in 2008 to 0.28 in 2009.  California’s rate is much better than the national average of 0.36.  Of the five largest states in terms of total traffic fatalities, (CA, FL, TX, PA, and NC), California has the best rate.

As a percent of total fatalities, alcohol-impaired fatalities decreased from 30 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2010.  This number has remained virtually unchanged in the past five years.  California is better than the national average of 31 percent.

In 2010, the 21-24 age group had the highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with BAC levels of 0.08 or higher – 30 percent (down from 33 percent in 2009).

DUI arrests have dropped in 2010 to 195,879 as compared to 208,531 in 2009.  Note:  the 2010 DUI arrest figure represents more DUI arrests than any year between 1997-2005.  (DMV)

California’s statewide DUI conviction rate for 2008 is 79 percent.   (2011 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System)

Distracted Driving

(Revised 2/02/12)

California’s first observational survey of cell phone use by drivers showed that drivers are talking and texting at a combined rate of at least 9 percent at any given time.

Hand-held cell phone convictions increased 17 percent from 301,833 in 2009 to 361,260 in 2010.

Texting convictions increased 65 percent from 2,845 in 2009 to 7,924 in 2010.

California’s 2011 Statewide Traffic Safety Survey showed that 62 percent of Californians stated texting and talking are the biggest traffic safety problem.

Drivers that reported they talked on a hand-held cell phone while driving in the past 30 days decreased from 27.6 percent in 2010 to 22.2 percent in 2011.

Drivers that reported they texted or emailed while driving in the past 30 days decreased from 19.8 percent in 2010 to 14.1 percent in 2011.


(Revised 2/02/12)

In 2009, 1,458 California drivers were killed in crashes, of whom 1,173 were tested for drugs after death.  The federal government reports that 339 tested positive for “drug involvement”, or 23 percent of all drivers.

The first-ever “National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers”, conducted by NHTSA, found that 16.3 percent of nighttime drivers were drug-positive, with marijuana (THC) at (8.6 percent) being the most commonly detected drug.

In 2010, 80 percent of fatally injured drivers were tested for the presence of drugs. Sixteen states had a better testing rate – New Mexico (99%), North Dakota (93%), West Virginia (91%), Nevada (88%), Pennsylvania (88%), Washington (88%), Ohio (87%), New Jersey (87%), Alaska (86%), Colorado (86%), Montana (84%), Rhode Island (83%), Minnesota (83%), Hawaii (82%), Maryland (82%), and New Hampshire (81%).

Occupant Protection

(Revised 2/02/12)

California’s 2011 seat belt usage rate is 96.6 percent – up from 96.2 percent in 2010. NHTSA estimates that 1,243 Californian lives were saved at the current seat belt use rate. California’s 96.6 percent seat belt use rate is much higher than the national average of 85 percent.

In California, the percent of restrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (all seat positions) increased from 60 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2010. California is much better than the national average of 46 percent and no state is better than California. NHTSA estimates that about half or 241 of the 483 known unrestrained fatalities would be alive today had they simply buckled up.

Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities (age 0-8) decreased 53.9 percent from 65 in 2009 to 30 in 2010.

Teen Safety

(Revised 2/02/12)

Drivers age 20 or younger involved in fatal crashes dropped 22.1 percent from 431 in 2009 to 336 in 2010.

In 2010, the percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant “teenaged” fatalities was 41 percent. Of the five largest states in terms of total traffic fatalities, (CA, FL, TX, PA, and NC), California has the best rate. Since restraints are about 50 percent effective in preventing a fatality, NHTSA estimates that half or 25 of the 50 teens would be alive today had they simply buckled up.

Teen motor vehicle fatalities (age 16-19) decreased 30.3 percent from 258 in 2009 to 180 in 2010. Since 2006, teen motor vehicle fatalities have dropped 58.3 percent.

Teen driver fatalities (age 16-19) decreased 20.3 percent from 94 in 2009 to 75 in 2010. Males make up 72 percent of teen driver fatalities. Since 2006, teen driver fatalities have dropped 65 percent.

Motorcycle Safety

(Revised 2/02/12)

Motorcycle fatalities decreased 10.7 percent from 394 in 2009 to 352 in 2010.

Total motorcycle registrations decreased less than one percent from 809,129 in 2009 to 808,634 in 2010. (DMV)

In 2010, 79 percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal collisions were at fault and 57 percent of motorcycle operators involved in injury collisions were at fault.

Motorcycle fatalities per 100,000 motorcycle registrations fell from 49 in 2009 to 44 in 2010. This rate had been relatively steady, averaging 68 from 2005 through 2008.

The percentage of motorcycle operators killed with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater increased from 23 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2010.

The percentage of motorcycle operators killed that were improperly licensed increased from 32 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2010.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

(Revised 2/02/12)

Pedestrian fatalities increased 15.4 percent from 567 in 2009 to 599 in 2010.

Pedestrian fatalities age 65 and older increased 14.6 percent from 145 in 2009 to 150 in 2010.

Bicycle fatalities decreased 9.2 percent from 109 in 2008 to 99 in 2009 and 2010 – lowest since 1984.

Previous Years


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