The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in California

Car accidents result in significant harm to Californians. 

In 2019, California car accidents claimed 3,738 lives, the California Highway Patrol reports. Accidents also injured 269,031 people in the Golden State. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, California motor vehicle crashes result in $19.998 billion in annual economic costs. 

In many cases, when an accident happens, someone is at fault. California law allows victims to bring personal injury lawsuits against those responsible. If you were involved in a car accident, you could secure compensation from the at-fault driver for your economic and non-economic damages. However, you must prove fault to obtain a financial recovery.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in California? 

Collisions typically arise from negligence. Negligent acts make people liable to those they harm. Here are some driving behaviors that commonly lead to car accidents throughout California. 

Alcohol-Impaired Driving 

Alcohol-impaired driving caused 1,066 fatalities in 2019, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. 

Drunk driving is illegal in California. Those 21 and older cannot drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. 

Some drivers are subject to lower thresholds: 

  • Those who are under 21 years old or on DUI probation cannot have a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher. 
  • People driving a vehicle requiring a commercial license and those driving a passenger for hire cannot have a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. 

According to, drunk driving accounted for more than a quarter of all accident-related deaths in California in 2019. Over 120,000 people were arrested for drunk driving. 

Drug-Impaired Driving

In addition to alcohol, drugs can impair drivers. Driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal in California. This includes marijuana, illicit substances, and prescription medications. 

The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that half of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 who were tested for drugs tested positive.  

Distracted Driving 

Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care when they operate a vehicle. This includes keeping their eyes on the road and avoiding distractions like cell phones. 

Texting or talking on the phone while driving are major forms of distracted driving. California law prohibits operating and holding a phone while driving. 

But drivers can also be distracted when they eat in the car, apply makeup, fiddle with the radio, or engage with passengers. 

In the 2021 Office of Traffic Safety Public Opinion Survey, 74.3 percent of Californians identified distracted driving as their greatest traffic safety worry. 


California law prohibits driving a car at an unreasonable speed. Posted speed limits inform drivers how fast they should go. They might need to slow down below the speed limit in inclement weather to stay safe. 

Speeding collisions occur when a driver is racing, going faster than the posted speed limit, or driving too fast for the conditions. 

Yet many drivers think it is okay to speed. The 2017 Traffic Safety Survey found that 65 percent of drivers thought going ten miles over the speed limit on freeways was acceptable.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, speeding caused 1,056 deaths in 2016.

Speeding accounted for 29.1% of motor vehicle fatalities in California. California also had the second-highest speeding fatalities in the nation. 

A San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Compensation After a Car Accident

In many cases, when car accidents happen, someone was careless. California law protects victims’ rights to pursue compensation for the harm they suffered as a result of another party’s negligence. 

If you need help filing a legal claim after a collision, contact an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer. They’ll guide you through the process, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies and others. If necessary, they’ll also take your case to court and advocate for your best interest at trial.

Contact the San Diego Car Accident Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in San Diego or Chula Vista, please call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer or contact us online.

We proudly serve San Diego County and throughout California.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 777-5555

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – Chula Vista Office
690 Otay Lakes Rd #130, Chula Vista, CA 91910
(619) 722-3032

We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.

Mission Personal Injury Lawyers – El Paso Office
201 E Main Suite 106, El Paso, Texas 79901
(915) 591-1000