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Car Accidents in San Francisco County: Statistics, Intersection Data, and More

Boasting the stunning California coastline, San Francisco wears its charm on every hilly street and historic landmark. While breathtaking, the city grapples with a challenge that resonates with many Californians: car accidents.

The iconic city’s bustling streets witness a significant number of traffic incidents. In December 2022, there were 39 traffic fatalities, and as of September 2023, there are already 19.

These numbers turn what could be a picturesque drive into a potentially traumatic experience. Whether you’re a daily commuter or an occasional visitor, the aftermath of car accidents in San Francisco can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re unprepared for the ensuing steps.

In this article, you’ll discover key statistics and facts surrounding recent car accidents in San Francisco. From understanding the prevalence of incidents to exploring their common causes, this blog aims to empower you with the knowledge and insights that can be your guide if the unexpected occurs.

Overview of Car Accidents in San Francisco

This section dissects the current landscape of traffic incidents in this vibrant locale. From prevalence to patterns, gain insights into the driving challenges shaping San Francisco.

1. San Francisco County has an average of 3,096 fatal and injury crashes from 2020 to 2022

With an average of 3,096, San Francisco has the fourth-highest number of fatalities and injury crashes. It follows Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles, with averages of 3,444, 5,196.3, and 15,299, respectively.

TIMS Berkeley

2. Car accidents are common among motorists and passengers under the age of 20

Despite driving less often than most age groups, teenagers experience disproportionately high numbers of crashes and crash-related fatalities. Additionally, analyzing police-reported crashes of all severities, the crash rate for 16–19 year-olds is almost three times greater than for drivers aged 20 and above, with the highest risk occurring at ages 16–17.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

3. Car accidents due to unrestrained occupants have been growing year-on-year since 2020, with the highest being in 2022

While San Francisco ranked fourth in fatal and injury crashes, it ranks third for accidents caused by unrestrained occupants. The latest number for this type of crash totaled 121 in 2022, just one incident higher than the previous year.

TIMS Berkeley

4. An average of 1,330 people got into an accident because of speeding

According to Forbes, speeding is one of the leading causes of car accidents, together with drunk driving. Speeding heightens the likelihood of collisions and the chances of sustaining severe and fatal injuries. It contributes to a substantial 29% of all fatal car accidents, leading to a staggering 11,258 fatalities.

In San Francisco, an average of 1,330 people got into an accident because of speeding. The city falls fifth on the list; Los Angeles tops at 8,491.7.

TIMS Berkeley

5. Driving under the influence of alcohol rounded up to an average of 358.3

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, fatal crashes due to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol increased 16% from 1,180 in 2020 to 1,370 in 2021.

Being one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state, San Francisco remains in the top 10 cities that see a significant number of crashes involving alcohol intoxication. The city accounted for 358.3 crashes on average from 2020 to 2022.

TIMS Berkeley

Intersection Data: Key Insights and Findings 

Delve into the intricacies of Bay Area car accidents and intersection data that unveils patterns, challenges, and crucial insights into understanding road safety in the county. 

1. 5th and Market

The intersection of 5th and Market Streets in San Francisco is a high-risk area for pedestrians, experiencing a notable number of collisions. A substantial portion of collisions on Market Street, particularly between Van Ness and Montgomery, resulted in fatalities, prompting a need for a thorough examination of safety measures and urban planning to address and mitigate the frequency of accidents.

2. Market and Octavia

The area sees a high number of accidents, possibly influenced by cars changing lanes or their rapid entry to and exit from major highways like Highway 101. Aggressive driving in the city exacerbates the situation, with drivers often overlooking pedestrians’ and cyclists’ right-of-way.

3. 6th and Market

Market and Mission Streets intersections have the highest all-time vehicle/pedestrian collisions. The intersection of 6th and Market saw 51 of the worst pedestrian collisions, coming only second to 5th and Market, which had 65 collisions. The data presented includes collision entries from 2005 to 2022.

Pedestrians and cyclists express concern that drivers often overlook them. The staggering number of accidents in a single intersection emphasizes the need for increased visibility of pedestrians and designated areas like brightly colored bike lanes to address safety concerns and reduce the likelihood of cars encroaching on these exclusive spaces.

SF Standard

4. Mission and Van Ness

According to Bay Area car accident reports,  concerns arise as Mission district grapples with many reported collisions, particularly at the intersection of Mission and Van Ness Streets. 

There’s an ongoing need to address the persistently elevated collision rates. Over the past five years (2017–2022), the Mission has experienced nearly 2,000 reported vehicle collisions, with approximately three-quarters occurring at intersections.

Significant infrastructure improvements have been implemented, including transit-only lanes and traffic signals. However, despite citywide efforts and interventions, severe injuries and fatalities persist, urging a critical examination of existing safety measures and a swift response to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety.

5. 16th and Potrero

Over the last five years, the intersection of 16th and Portrero saw 23 accidents, with 13 vehicle-to-vehicle, eight vehicle-to-pedestrian, and two vehicle-to-bike collisions. 

Mission Local

As San Francisco approaches its self-imposed 2024 deadline for zero traffic deaths, its urgency to expedite safety improvements aligns with its commitment to Vision Zero.

6 Common Causes of Car Accidents in California 

Several factors contribute to road incidents, offering insights that help you understand the numbers presented thus far. 

1. Alcohol-impaired driving 

In San Francisco, alcohol-impaired driving continues to be a leading cause of accidents, exemplified by cases where individuals surpass the legal blood alcohol limit. In 2022, there were 394 collisions due to intoxicated driving—19 incidents more than the previous year. 

One example involves a tragic incident on October 24, 2022. A 47-year-old Hayward man, Robert Green, was arrested for allegedly hitting two women with his vehicle. One woman lost her life at the scene, while the other sustained life-threatening injuries, prompting charges against Green, including DUI, vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, and speeding.

2. Drug-impaired driving 

Drugs can significantly impair a driver’s cognitive and motor functions. The compromised judgment, coordination, and reaction time elevate the risk of errors and poor decision-making, resulting in challenges in navigating traffic complexities and increasing the likelihood of collisions.

In 2022, there were over 38 people involved in drug-impaired driving collisions, just one case less than the previous year. Additionally, San Francisco remains in the top 10 cities with the highest number of drug-impaired driving cases; Los Angeles takes the top spot with 218.

3. Weather 

Weather can lead to challenging and unpredictable driving conditions. Rain, snow, fog, ice, or other adverse weather conditions can significantly reduce visibility and make road surfaces slippery, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

For instance, heavy rains can cause reduced road traction and low visibility. A vehicle can skid when the driver attempts to brake while driving on a wet surface, leading to a rear-end collision with the car ahead.

4. Occupant negligence

Occupant negligence, particularly failure to wear seat belts, reveals a concerning trend. Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 12.4% increase in unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities, from 782 to 878.

When drivers and passengers neglect to use seat belts, the risk of severe injury or fatality in a collision substantially rises. Seat belts are fundamental safety mechanisms that prevent occupants from being ejected or colliding with vehicle interiors during an accident.

5. Distracted driving

Not being focused on the road while driving can lead to car collisions. Using phones is a common reason behind distracted driving. Such actions impair reaction times and increase the risk of accidents, endangering not only the distracted driver but others on the road, as well. As of 2023, California and 24 other states have banned handheld cellphone use while driving.

Steer Towards Safety

In the bustling streets of the Bay Area, where car accidents are a stark reality, the importance of a reliable car accident lawyer in San Francisco cannot be overstated.

If you find yourself grappling with the aftermath of a collision, RMD Law Personal Injury Attorneys stand ready to be your ally. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in personal injury lawsuits, providing the expertise to help you navigate the complex legal terrain.

Knowing what to do after a car accident is crucial when faced with the unexpected. RMD Law Personal Injury Attorneys offer a guiding hand through the intricacies of the legal process, ensuring you receive the tireless representation you deserve.

For a free case evaluation and to take the first step towards resolution, contact us at RMD Law Personal Injury Attorneys.

Aria Miran
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