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What city has the most car accidents?

Places with Most (and Least) Traffic Fatalities in America

Each year, tens of thousands of people tragically die in traffic accidents. By latest count almost 37,000 people died last year in automotive accidents. Many of those people were pedestrians who were hit by cars. Others were passengers or drivers. Among children age 8 and older, motor vehicles accidents are the leading cause of death.

Still, some strides have been made to reduce vehicle deaths. Because of airbags, seat belts, and improved automotive technology, cars are generally safer today than in prior decades. Moreover, some municipalities are redesigning their roads to make them safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

So where are the roads most dangerous in America? The staff at decided to analyze the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the rate of traffic fatalities in states and cities across America.

Among states, we found that Mississippi has the highest rate of traffic fatalities in the country, while New York has the lowest. Montana has the highest rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the country. When it comes to wearing seat belts, Hawaii leads the nation with a 97.8% compliance rate. New Hampshire is last in the nation when it comes to seat belt safety as only 76.4% buckle up in the “live free or die” state.

The NHTSA is a governmental organization tasked with creating and enforcing automobile standards. As part of its mission to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes” the agency releases traffic fatality data on an annual basis. On a state level, the most recent data available is from 2018, which we have analyzed in this report.

To begin, let’s look at the states that are most dangerous when it comes to motor vehicle-related deaths. The chart below shows the number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 living in each state.

States with the Most and Least Traffic Fatalities

By a considerable margin, Mississippi is the most dangerous state when it comes to automotive fatalities. In Mississippi there are 22.1 auto-related deaths per every 100,000 people living there. In Mississippi, the probability of dying in a motor vehicle accident is nearly 5 times as high as in New York, the state with the lowest death rate.

According to the CDC, rural roads tend to be much more dangerous which helps explain why states like Mississippi and South Carolina top the rankings. On the other hand, states where a lot of the population live in an urban center like New York tend to have safer streets on average.

However, the rural-urban divide only explains part of the divide when it comes to deaths in car crashes. Another factor is that there is considerable variation in how likely the population is to embrace life-saving safety measures like wearing a seatbelt.

States Ranked by Population Wearing Seatlbelts

Part of the reason a place like Mississippi have high traffic fatality rates is non-compliance with wearing seatbelts. In Hawaii, the state with the highest seat belt rate, 97.8% of people wear their seatbelts. In contrast, Mississippi has the 4th lowest seat belt rate at just 80.2%. Of note, New Hampshire is the only state in the country that does not require wearing seatbelts and therefore ranks last on this metric.

Seatbelts is just one safety measure that can be embraced or rejected by the population. Another measure to consider is the prevalence of drunk driving. The following chart shows the rate of motor vehicle deaths that involved a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) by state:

The States with the Most Least Deaths from Drunk Driving Fatalities

When it comes to drunk driving deaths, Montana has the highest rate in the country, followed by Wyoming and South Carolina. On the other hand, drunk driving deaths are much more rare in New Jersey, New York and Minnesota.

Automobiles can be lethal. They are extremely heavy and are capable of moving at extraordinary speeds. A moment of distraction from a driver or a poorly designed intersection can easily result in death. In the United States, traffic fatalities are much more common than in others. Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama lead with the highest fatality rates. These states also tend to have lower rates of seat belt wearing and higher rates of drunk driving, indicating that many of these deaths are completely preventable.

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The Most Dangerous U.S. States and Cities to Drive Mapped

The decline in motor vehicle mortalities was one of the outstanding public health triumphs of the 20th century. The number of motor vehicle deaths per capita has dropped by more than half in the last 50 years, decreasing from 26.8 per 100,000 Americans in 1970 to 12.9 per 100,000 in 2020.

Despite the decline, over 1.3 million people are still killed in automobile accidents yearly. Car crash injuries are the 8th leading reason of death worldwide and the foremost cause for people aged 29 and younger.

Differences in road design, driver behavior, weather situations, and other regional characteristics make some locations far more dangerous to drive in than others.

But where should you take additional care when getting behind the wheel in the U.S. states?

This new analysis from The Clunker Junker examined data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to uncover the most and least risky American states and cities to drive in.

Table of Contents

  • Key Findings
  • Methodology
  • The most dangerous U.S. states to drive
  • Car accident rates in the 1000 most populated U.S. counties
  • Top 10 most dangerous U.S. cities to drive
  • Most dangerous U.S. cities to drive in at night

Key Findings

  • Mississippi is the riskiest U.S. state for driving, with 30.1 accidents per 100,000 vehicles every year.
  • With 24.9 accidents per 100,000 vehicles each year, Baton Rouge is the most dangerous U.S. city for driving.
  • California and Texas are home to the most unsafe cities to drive in at night – Chula Vista is the most hazardous, with 74.6 percent of all reported car accidents occurring at night.
  • In 18 of the 25 most dangerous U.S. counties for driving, more than half of the population lives in rural areas.


To determine the most dangerous places to drive, The Clunker Junker collected data on car accidents reported from 2016 to 2020 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Then, to find the number of accidents per 100,000 cars, the team collected data about the state’s population and extracted the total number of vehicles in each state. Second, they calculated the number of cars per capita. Third, The Clunker Junker used these indices to estimate the number of cars in each city of the top 100 most populated cities in the United States. Data on population came from the U.S. Census Bureau. At the county level, the team kept only counties with a population of at least 50,000. Finally, they calculated the number of accidents per 100,000 vehicles yearly.

To reveal the places where it is more dangerous to drive at night rather than a day, the team split all accidents into two categories, “dark” and “day.” They included in the “dark” category the accidents with the following lighting types noted: ‘Dark – Not Lighted,’ ‘Dark – Lighted,’ ‘Dark – Unknown Light.’ In the ‘day’ category, the team included only those accidents that occurred under the illumination – ‘Daylight.’ Data on light conditions came from the NHTSA.

The data was collected in March 2022

The most dangerous U.S. states to drive

While advances in technology and design have made driving safer than ever, car crashes remain one of the leading causes of death nationwide – and are far more likely in some states than others. Mississippi is the most dangerous state to drive, with an average of 30.1 accidents per 100,000 vehicles yearly. The safest U.S. state is Minnesota, where only 6.1 accidents occur annually per 100,000 cars.

The most dangerous U.S. states to drive mapped

Car accident rates in the 1000 most populated U.S. counties

The frequency of car accidents varies widely across the United States, with drivers in the most dangerous county more than 25 times more likely to crash than those in the safest. In Apache County, AZ, there are an average of 46.7 accidents per 100,000 vehicles annually, the most of any county with a population of more than 50,000 people. Meanwhile, there are just 1.8 accidents per 100,000 in Arlington County, VA, the least of any county.

Car accident rates in the 1000 most populated U.S. counties mapped

Top 10 most dangerous U.S. cities to drive

While urban areas tend to have a lower incidence of car accidents than rural areas, some cities are far more dangerous places to drive than others. In Baton Rouge, LA, there are an average of 24.9 accidents per 100,000 vehicles annually – the most of any city in our analysis. Of the ten most dangerous cities to drive, six are in the South, three are in the Midwest, and one is in the West.

Top 10 most dangerous U.S. cities to drive mapped

Most dangerous U.S. cities to drive in at night

Fatigue, low visibility, and impaired drivers are just some factors that make driving at night more than three times as deadly as the daytime. In some cities, the increased risk of driving at night is even greater. In Chula Vista, CA, 74.6% of accidents occur at night – the largest share of any city. California has four of the ten most dangerous cities to drive to at nighttime.

Vehicle Accidents in California: What the Statistics Say

The statistics behind vehicle accidents in California

Not only is California the third largest state in the county (based on total area), but it is also the most populated—representing approximately 12 percent of the entire total US population. The state is home to some of the most populated state cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. With such a large population, it should come as no surprise that California has the most registered vehicles (over 30 million) out of all the states. Unfortunately, more drivers on the road often means more vehicle accidents. By total number, California is the state with the most fatal car accidents each year. Below, our team at Forward Law Group has gathered recent data and statistics related to vehicle collisions and car accidents in California.

Statistics of Vehicle Accidents in California

Here are the key statistics related to car accidents in California, based on the most recent available data:

  • 57,466 police-reported car crashes occurred throughout California in 2021. In 2022, there have been 24,710 police-report accidents to date. (Source)
  • Across the state, car crashes resulted in a total of 3,786 fatalities in 2021. (Source)
  • In 2021, vehicle accidents in California resulted in 19,152 fatalities and/or serious injuries. (Source)
  • In 2021, car crashes caused by distracted driving resulted in 139 fatalities. This was a 31.1 percent increase from 2020, in which there were 139 distracted-driving fatalities in California. (Source)
  • In 2020, Los Angeles and San Diego had the most distracted driving fatalities (11) of all counties in California (Source)
  • In 2020, there were 756 unrestrained occupant (drivers passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt) fatalities across the state. (Source)
  • From 2019 to 2020, there was a 25.3% decrease in the total number of reported car accidents, due largely to fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source)
  • After things began to open back up and more drivers got back to their daily commutes, there was a 19.6% increase in crashes from 2020 to 2021. (Source)
  • Of all the vehicle accidents that occurred in California in 2021, 45.3% (26,061) were caused by unsafe speeds; 20.3% (11,685) were caused by improper turning; 10.9% (6,315) were caused by DUIs; and 23.3% (13,405) were due to other causes. (Source)

Vehicle Accidents by California Counties

According to the most recent data from the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Reports System, Los Angeles County had the most car crashes that caused fatalities and serious injuries in 2021—the total number coming in at 4,651. San Bernardino ranked second on the list with 1,373 fatalities and serious injuries caused by car accidents, and San Diego ranked third with 1,343 fatalities and serious injuries.

Number of Fatalities Due to Car Crashes, Ranked by California County, 2021

  1. Los Angeles — 744
  2. San Bernardino — 367
  3. San Diego — 294
  4. Riverside — 263
  5. Sacramento — 190
  6. Kern — 182
  7. Orange — 164
  8. San Joaquin — 121
  9. Fresno — 119
  10. Stanislaus — 101

Other Data Related to Accidents and Traffic Safety in California

In May 2022, the California Office of Highway Safety and the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center published results from the California Traffic Safety Survey 2022. Some of the key findings gathered from the survey are highlighted below.

  • The biggest safety concern for drivers who were surveyed was “speeding/aggressive driving” (75%) followed by “distracted driving” (71.5%).
  • Just over half (50.2%) of drivers who were surveyed indicated that they had been hit or nearly hit by a distracted driver who was talking or texting on a cell phone.
  • Only 43.3% of respondents reported that they either “Always” or “Sometimes” use alternate transportation when drinking.

Large Truck Accident Statistics in California

Beyond regular passenger vehicles, accidents involving large trucks (also referred to as semi-trucks, big rigs, or 18-wheels) are also a big concern in California, particularly on the highways. According to a recent report by the California Air Resources Board from August 2022, there are about 1.8 million large trucks that are registered in the state. Below, we highlight some of the data and statistics related to large truck accidents in California:

  • According to the National Safety Council, in 2020, California was second among states with the most deaths resulting from large truck crashes with 398 deaths. Texas was the only state that had more annual fatal crashes. (Source)
  • As stated in a comprehensive report from 2015 by the Southern California Association of Governments, the four freeway sections in LA County and the Inland Empire with the highest concentrations of truck crashes per mile annually were (Source):
  • The 710 at the 60 in the East LA Interchange (7.2 accidents)
  • The 5 between the 710 and the 10—also in the East LA Interchange (6.6 accidents)
  • The convergence of the 60 and the 57 (6 accidents)
  • The 710 between the 105 and the 91 (5.8 accidents)

Motorcycle Accident Statistics in California

Besides being one of the states with the highest number of registered vehicles, California also has the greatest number of motorcycles registered across the entire nation at 952,977 motorcycles (as noted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2021). Since motorcycles also share the road with vehicles, our team at Forward Law Group thought it would be useful to also provide some details related to motorcycle accident data.

  • Based on the most recent available data, there were 539 motorcyclist fatalities in 2020. (Source)
  • The top five primary crash factors for motorcycle accidents in 2020 were (Source):
  • Unsafe speed (30.9 percent)
  • Improper turning (22.2 percent)
  • Automobile right of way (16.1 percent)
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (8.9 percent)
  • Traffic signals and signs (4.4 percent)
  • California accounted for 9.6 percent of all 5,579 motorcyclist fatalities in the entire US in 2020. (Source)
  • From 2019 to 2020, there was a 9.8 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities in the state. (Source)
  • Of all counties in California, Los Angeles County had the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities. (Source)

Closing Remarks

As evident from the data, car accidents are highly common in a state as large as California. There are drivers constantly traversing the roads, highways, and interstates across the state. To minimize your risk of being in a car accident, we always recommend driving carefully and paying the utmost attention while operating your vehicle.

If you are ever involved in a crash and need a lawyer in Los Angeles for your car accident case, our team of experienced attorneys at Forward Law Group is here to help. From the start of your case to the end, our team here at Forward Law Group will go the extra mile to ensure that you get the outcome that you desire. If you have been involved in a large truck accident or a motorcycle accident, we can also help you. For more information or to learn more, call our friendly and knowledgeable staff today at (818) 471-8389.

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