California is the biggest state in the country. There are millions of drivers on the road, and safety is paramount.

In 2016, deaths from California car accidents rose by 13%. It should be the goal of every Californian to be a safe driver and avoid collisions, but it requires everyone working together.

At the Beliz Law Firm, we frequently work with the victims of car accidents. However, we’d prefer it if we never had to take a case again. In an effort to help cities identify problems on their roadways, we decided to put together a ranking system of the 50 biggest cities in the state.

Using a custom ranking system, we graded each city on an A-F scale. A+ is the highest possible grade, while an F is the lowest.

We used a variety of criteria to come up with the grade, including the following:

Fatal Collisions
Killed Victims
Unsafe Speed Collisions
DUI Related Collisions
Number of Severe Injuries
Collision Rate
(Total Collisions Divided by Population)

What's Your City's Grade?

  • Anaheim
  • Bakersfield
  • Chula Vista
  • Concord
  • Corona
  • Elk Grove
  • Escondido
  • Fontana
  • Fremont
  • Fresno
  • Fullerton
  • Garden Grove
  • Glendale
  • Hayward
  • Huntington Beach
  • Irvine
  • Lancaster
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Modesto
  • Moreno Valley
  • Oakland
  • Oceanside
  • Ontario
  • Orange
  • Palmdale
  • Pasadena
  • Pomona
  • Rancho Cucamonga
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento
  • Salinas
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Santa Ana
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Clarita
  • Santa Rosa
  • Simi Valley
  • Stockton
  • Sunnyvale
  • Thousand Oaks
  • Torrance
  • Vallejo
  • Victorville
  • Visalia
  • San Francisco
  • Grade C-

    2842

    Total Accidents

    17

    Fatalities

    216

    DUI Accidents

    738

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    2140

    Total Accidents

    39

    Fatalities

    333

    DUI Accidents

    436

    Speeding

  • Grade C

    1340

    Total Accidents

    11

    Fatalities

    194

    DUI Accidents

    369

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    802

    Total Accidents

    9

    Fatalities

    73

    DUI Accidents

    218

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    1178

    Total Accidents

    6

    Fatalities

    104

    DUI Accidents

    259

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    901

    Total Accidents

    5

    Fatalities

    60

    DUI Accidents

    296

    Speeding

  • Grade A-

    732

    Total Accidents

    9

    Fatalities

    58

    DUI Accidents

    141

    Speeding

  • Grade F

    2988

    Total Accidents

    9

    Fatalities

    170

    DUI Accidents

    1097

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    588

    Total Accidents

    4

    Fatalities

    88

    DUI Accidents

    97

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    321

    Total Accidents

    35

    Fatalities

    45

    DUI Accidents

    81

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    1521

    Total Accidents

    6

    Fatalities

    167

    DUI Accidents

    302

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    1608

    Total Accidents

    13

    Fatalities

    139

    DUI Accidents

    377

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    2106

    Total Accidents

    5

    Fatalities

    72

    DUI Accidents

    369

    Speeding

  • Grade A-

    844

    Total Accidents

    4

    Fatalities

    115

    DUI Accidents

    181

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    1617

    Total Accidents

    14

    Fatalities

    242

    DUI Accidents

    310

    Speeding

  • Grade A

    1374

    Total Accidents

    3

    Fatalities

    121

    DUI Accidents

    384

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    2161

    Total Accidents

    28

    Fatalities

    122

    DUI Accidents

    337

    Speeding

  • Grade A

    6076

    Total Accidents

    26

    Fatalities

    139

    DUI Accidents

    1044

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    38478

    Total Accidents

    254

    Fatalities

    2474

    DUI Accidents

    9435

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    2356

    Total Accidents

    20

    Fatalities

    220

    DUI Accidents

    437

    Speeding

  • Grade B-

    1352

    Total Accidents

    6

    Fatalities

    170

    DUI Accidents

    291

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    2606

    Total Accidents

    14

    Fatalities

    234

    DUI Accidents

    662

    Speeding

  • Grade F

    1170

    Total Accidents

    12

    Fatalities

    133

    DUI Accidents

    345

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    2316

    Total Accidents

    6

    Fatalities

    181

    DUI Accidents

    514

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    1141

    Total Accidents

    3

    Fatalities

    167

    DUI Accidents

    306

    Speeding

  • Grade B-

    1763

    Total Accidents

    14

    Fatalities

    73

    DUI Accidents

    348

    Speeding

  • Grade B-

    1125

    Total Accidents

    10

    Fatalities

    50

    DUI Accidents

    248

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    2274

    Total Accidents

    13

    Fatalities

    154

    DUI Accidents

    317

    Speeding

  • Grade C

    1472

    Total Accidents

    6

    Fatalities

    104

    DUI Accidents

    474

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    2862

    Total Accidents

    19

    Fatalities

    233

    DUI Accidents

    638

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    3159

    Total Accidents

    36

    Fatalities

    272

    DUI Accidents

    961

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    1119

    Total Accidents

    11

    Fatalities

    99

    DUI Accidents

    262

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    1804

    Total Accidents

    18

    Fatalities

    79

    DUI Accidents

    454

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    4493

    Total Accidents

    58

    Fatalities

    26

    DUI Accidents

    847

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    5281

    Total Accidents

    32

    Fatalities

    258

    DUI Accidents

    1000

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    2634

    Total Accidents

    42

    Fatalities

    105

    DUI Accidents

    680

    Speeding

  • Grade D

    2517

    Total Accidents

    23

    Fatalities

    281

    DUI Accidents

    591

    Speeding

  • Grade B+

    855

    Total Accidents

    3

    Fatalities

    75

    DUI Accidents

    193

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    1789

    Total Accidents

    15

    Fatalities

    118

    DUI Accidents

    392

    Speeding

  • Grade C-

    1293

    Total Accidents

    7

    Fatalities

    174

    DUI Accidents

    306

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    564

    Total Accidents

    3

    Fatalities

    70

    DUI Accidents

    89

    Speeding

  • Grade F

    3653

    Total Accidents

    30

    Fatalities

    220

    DUI Accidents

    1492

    Speeding

  • Grade C

    821

    Total Accidents

    7

    Fatalities

    75

    DUI Accidents

    239

    Speeding

  • Grade A-

    1170

    Total Accidents

    5

    Fatalities

    74

    DUI Accidents

    189

    Speeding

  • Grade C

    1558

    Total Accidents

    3

    Fatalities

    104

    DUI Accidents

    380

    Speeding

  • Grade B

    800

    Total Accidents

    7

    Fatalities

    58

    DUI Accidents

    159

    Speeding

  • Grade A+

    226

    Total Accidents

    0

    Fatalities

    12

    DUI Accidents

    63

    Speeding

  • Grade D+

    948

    Total Accidents

    12

    Fatalities

    96

    DUI Accidents

    188

    Speeding

We gathered crash from California's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System data for the 50 biggest cities in California and set out to assign each city with an A-F grade which represents the relative danger of driving in a given city compared to another.

Grading Methodology

For each city we gathered the following four crash data points:

  • Collision Rate (Total Accidents Divided by Population)
  • Speeding Related Accident Rate
  • DUI Accident Rate
  • Fatality Rate

We then ranked each city – one through 50 – for each of these data points. For instance, if a given city’s collision rate was the 40th highest out of the 50 cities, it was given a score of 40.

After we had a rank for each city for each data point , we totaled the ranks. A lower number represents a safer city in which to drive.

From there, we created a simple grading scale based on the total rank of each city:

  • 65 or Under - A+
  • 65-74 - A
  • 75-79 - A-
  • 80-84 - B+
  • 85-94 - B
  • 95-99 - B-
  • 100-104 - C+
  • 105-114 - C
  • 115-119 - C-
  • 120-124 - D+
  • 124-135 - D
  • 135-139 - D-
  • 140+ = F

To clarify, here are a couple of examples:

Long Beach had a high collision rate of one collision for every 78.33 residents. That rate ranked as the 46th highest out of the 50 cities. However, the rate of speeding crashes and DUI crashes in Long Beach rank in the top 10 lowest. The collision fatality rate was also relatively low, clocking in at 12th overall.

So for Long Beach the grading calculation looked like this:

Collision Rate: 46/50
Speeding Crash Rate: 7/50
DUI Crash Rate: 7/50
Fatality Rate: 12/50
Total: 72 – good for an “A”

The high collision rate compared to the relatively low incidents of fatalities indicates that a lot of the crashes in Long Beach are fender benders. These types of crashes present less of a risk than more serious collisions.

Here’s one more example:

Los Angeles earned a “D+” largely because their ranks are middling or worse.

Take a look:

Collision Rate: 38/50
Speeding Crash Rate: 32/50
DUI Crash Rate: 27/50
Fatality Rate: 23/50
Total: 120 – a “D+”

Using rate instead of totals allows for corrections based on city population. For example, the population of Los Angeles is nearing 4 million. The city will clearly have more total accidents than Torrance, a city of 150,000.

By including factors like speeding and DUI rates, we accounted for the risk factor you face from driving in a particular city. If people are participating in driving practices in specific areas, there is greater risk driving there.

The grading systems explains why you may see a city with more total accidents but a higher grade.

Data collected is from the calendar year 2016.

Why Did We Do It?

In 2016, more than 3,500 people in California died as the result of a car crash. While the fatality rate isn't the worst in the country, Californians can improve significantly. By drawing attention to problems at the local level, we present an opportunity to improve in key areas.

A city with a high number of DUI related accidents and a low overall grade may decide to focus on drunk driving enforcement. These efforts may curb DUI and therefore reduce the total number of accidents.

Or, a city like San Diego that achieved an A+ may see that even with the high grade, they have a high number of speeding-related crashes (847) and use the information to improve even further.

Raising awareness about car crashes and the reason they are happening can help us improve statewide. By assigning a grade, we give cities a clear way to compare themselves with their neighbors. It also gives the city something to shoot for - an improved grade for 2018 and beyond.

Final Thoughts

We don't usually think of driving as a 'dangerous' activity, but in reality there is a risk every time you're on the road. This isn't supposed to be a scare tactic to keep you from driving. Rather, the goal is to have aware and alert drivers on our roads.

The goal for every city in California should be to earn an "A+" based on the criteria we used.

If you'd like to see the data presented in a different manner, check out the spreadsheet below:

City Ranks by Crash Type

Cities ranked for speeding related collision rate, DUI related collision rate, fatality rate, and overall crash rate.

City Ranks by Crash Type

Generated by wpDataTables

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