Being one of the busiest metropolitan areas in California, Orange County witnesses a number of auto accidents annually. While the accident and death rates have significantly improved over the past few years, car-related accidents are still a major concern for the residents.

This article will give an overview of the frequency of car accidents in Orange County, including mortality data, intersections with the most accidents, and common causes of car accidents.

Overview of Car-Related Accidents in Orange County

The diagram below shows the frequency of Orange County car accidents from January to December 2021. The data were taken using the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) developed by the University of California, Berkeley.

Number of Car Crashes in Orange County by Crash Type

From January to December 2021, the number of car crashes in Orange County reached 11,951. Based on the TIMS data, rear-end accidents make up 33.14% of the total crashes. Meanwhile, accidents involving the car’s broadside were 3,559 or 29.78% of all accidents.

Other types of crashes, such as head-on collisions, sideswipes, overturns, pedestrian accidents, and those involving hitting an object, make up 36.71% of the tally. 

Number of Car Crashes in Orange County by Severity

It’s worth noting that while a substantial number of car-related crashes occurred in 2021, most were not fatal. Approximately 57% of accidents caused manageable pain to the victims, while around 36% resulted in visible injuries. Fatal accidents (1.26%) and crashes that caused severe injuries (6.24%) make up only 7.5% of the total.

Number of Car Crash Victims in Orange County by Victim Role

The TIMS data show that most car crash victims in 2021 were drivers, totaling 11,414 or 67.02% of the overall victim count. Meanwhile, 3,977 passengers were injured, making up 23.35% of the total cases. Pedestrians (4.33%) and bicyclists (4.78%) were also among the victims, but not as often as drivers and passengers. 

Number of Car Crash Victims in Orange County by Gender and Age

In terms of gender, the TIMS data suggest that the most common car crash victims in Orange Country in 2021 were men aged 20–24, followed by men who were 25–29 years old. The trend is the same for women in the same age groups. 

Number of Car Crash Victims in Orange County by Degree of Injury

As to the degree of injury, the majority of car crashes that year — or 94.25% of the total cases — resulted in “possible” or “suspected” injuries to the victims. A total of 827 cases, or 4.86%, caused “suspected” serious injuries. Meanwhile, 0.90% of the accidents resulted in death.

Intersections in Orange County with the Most Accidents

Intersections in Orange County have seen a number of collisions in 2021. Most of the accidents happened at the Orangethorpe Avenue and State College Boulevard intersection. Likewise, the Santa Clara Avenue and Tustin Avenue intersection is just as dangerous, registering the same number of collisions. 

Meanwhile, the intersections of 1st Street-Bolsa Avenue-Hoover Street, 1st Street-Broadway Street, and Campus Drive-Dorothy Lane-State College Boulevard also recorded multiple collisions, similarly ranking high in the list.

Intersections in Orange County with the Most Accidents (2019–2021)

The Santa Clara Avenue and Tustin Avenue intersection saw the most car accidents in 2019–2021. In addition, the same avenues where most collisions occurred in 2021 are also on the list for 2019–2021. While the Standard Avenue and Warner Avenue intersection ranked at the bottom of the list, accidents still occur frequently in the area.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in Orange County

Car accidents can be caused by various factors, from excessive speed to adverse weather conditions and others. Orange County’s most common causes of vehicular crashes are the following.

1. Rush-hour traffic

According to a 2021 study, traffic is one of the primary causes of car accidents in the U.S. The majority of the accidents happen during rush hour when people are either going to work or school or coming back home. The TIMS 2021 data support this finding.

Orange County reported the highest number of crashes on weekdays between 3 PM and 6 PM, usually the time when people get home from work or school. For those who work a night shift, this is when their day starts; hence, they are also on the road. In particular, Friday recorded the highest frequency of vehicular accidents. 

2. Adverse weather conditions

The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that adverse weather conditions can impact visibility, vehicles’ traction and maneuverability, and pavement friction. While this is the usual case, the TIMS data indicate an opposite trend.

In Orange County, most crashes (90.91%) in 2021 happened during clear weather. Only 1.40% of the total cases occurred on a rainy day. A possible reason is that drivers are more careful when driving in low-visibility conditions, reducing the risk of collisions and other car-related accidents.

3. Speeding

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding has contributed to one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S. in the last two decades. In 2020, speeding was involved in 29% of all traffic-related deaths.

Speeding not only endangers the driver’s life but also compromises the safety of other people on the road. Unfortunately, this remains a common cause of car crashes in Orange County. In 2021, 3,792 accidents, or 31.85% of the total cases, were reportedly due to unsafe speed.

Speeding may also be a factor when a vehicle follows another too closely. There were 92 reported incidents of tailing in 2021, comprising 0.77% of the tally. 

4. Insufficient streetlights

Sufficient streetlights improve visibility and guide drivers in navigating the road, especially at night. It also helps ensure the pedestrians’ safety while reducing the risk of crimes. 

The TIMS data provide an interesting finding. In Orange County, most accidents (51.88%) happened in the daytime. In addition, 39.48% occurred at nighttime under streetlights. Only 3.07% were reported to have happened at night in streets with no lights. This may be because drivers are more careful when driving in the dark.

5. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is another common reason for vehicular accidents in Orange County. In 2021, there were 1,173 DUI incidents reported, or 9.85% of the total crashes. 

Driving under the influence impairs concentration and judgment, increasing the risk of an accident. It may also lead to other offenses like impeding traffic, violating traffic signals and signs, and hazardous parking.

Based on the TIMS data, 1,303 cases of traffic sign violations were reported in Orange County in 2021. Another eight cases involving impeding traffic were reported, and 12 cases of hazardous parking were documented.

6. Improper turning

Improper turning is another risk factor for vehicular accidents in Orange County. It happens when the driver turns at a “No Turn on Red” sign, without using turn signals, or even without the right of way. This can result in an accident, hitting a pedestrian, or colliding with another car, bicycle, or motorcycle.

In 2021, 12.25% of the car accidents or 1,458 cases in Orange County were attributed to improper turning, making it high on the list of car crash causes in the area. 

7. Driver’s negligence

Negligence is another cause of car accidents in Orange County. This refers to the driver’s failure to act in a careful and reasonable manner to prevent harm and damage. Some common forms of driver’s negligence include:

  • Unsafe lane changing
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Failure to yield to pedestrian or automobile right of way

In 2021, 476 cases of unsafe lane changing were reported in Orange County. Another 226 were due to drivers driving on the wrong side of the road, 238 because the driver failed to yield to pedestrian right of way, and 2,001 were due to the driver’s failure to yield to automobile right of way.

These violations nearly make up 50% of all car accidents in 2021, showing how a driver’s negligence can lead to disaster.

8. Pedestrian violations

Pedestrians can also contribute to vehicular accidents. In Orange County, crashes caused by pedestrians make up 34.12‬% of the total in 2021. The most common forms of pedestrian violations include the following: 

  • Failure to yield to automobile right of way
  • Failure to cross at crosswalks between adjacent traffic signal-controlled intersections
  • Failure to walk close to the edge of the roadway when there is no sidewalk present
  • Failure to walk on the left-hand edge of the roadway when outside of a business or resident district, unless crossing is not possible

Life on the Safe Lane

Car accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, for different reasons. Regardless, what’s important is that drivers and pedestrians alike should be aware of their surroundings when on the road. Ignoring traffic rules is a sure way to get into an accident, but following them can help prevent — or at least reduce the chances of — a car crash. 

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need a lawyer to work your case, reach out to us at RMD Law. We have a team of experienced personal injury attorneys in Orange County ready for the tireless representation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation!

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