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Los Angeles County is Rated Most Dangerous for Drivers - Here’s Why

LA County Ranks High for Driving Dangers

The Berkeley Safety Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) annual reports have placed Los Angeles County as the most dangerous for drivers in California. While there may be many different reasons for this, we can examine the overall rate of accidents, type of accidents, and accidents per square mile in comparison to other counties to get a clear picture and greater understanding of what makes Los Angeles County so dangerous.

LA County Crash Statistics

With 4,083 square miles and 88 incorporated cities to its name, Los Angeles County boasts over 10 million in population, making it the largest in the state for population alone. Along with this, LA County has some of the biggest tourist attractions in the country from Hollywood to well-known beaches and a short trip to the amusement parks in Orange.

Considering this, it is unsurprising that the area would have a high volume of traffic and, subsequently, accidents. However, it is the characteristics of these crashes that may offer an idea of what makes it dangerous.

Traffic Violations Involved in Accidents

Over the last five years, SafeTREC has recorded 351,283 traffic collisions with more than 500,000 injuries and 4,300 fatalities in LA County. Among these, three of the Primary Collision Factor (PCF) violations made up about 60% of all accidents:

  • Unsafe Speeds: 100,778 collisions
  • Automobile Right of Way: 70,570 collisions
  • Improper Turning: 40,086 collisions

Although the area has a few freeways that are notorious for motorists traveling at high speeds, the high number of collisions involving turns and right of way could point to an issue with inexperienced or out-of-state drivers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 21% of people living in LA County are 18 years of age or younger, which highlights the likelihood of inexperienced drivers involved in collisions.

It also is important to look at the rate of accidents per square mile, as it may provide an idea of the true likelihood of being involved in a collision. For LA County in this five-year span, there was an average of 86 accidents per square mile. In comparing this to other counties that differ in both population and size, we may be able to have a clearer picture of whether the issue is the people driving in this area or something else.

How It Compares to Other Counties

While LA County is over three times larger than the county with the next highest population, it is not the largest in terms of square mileage. Both of these factors will be considered when examining how they stack up against each other.

San Diego County

Traveling a couple of hours south, San Diego County is approximately 443 square miles larger than Los Angeles, although it has about a third of the population. Known for its 70 miles of beaches and family-friendly attractions, many consider this a great place to visit if not wanting the hustle and bustle of LA.

Within the same five-year time span, San Diego had only 85,115 collisions that accounted for 116,143 injuries and 1,517 fatalities. However, the kinds of PCF violations that played a role were pretty consistent with that of LA (improper turning ranked fourth):

  • Unsafe Speeds: 27,489 collisions
  • Automobile Right of Way: 14,830 collisions
  • Traffic Signals and Signs: 6,855 collisions

These violations made up about 57% of all collisions.

An important factor that needs to be considered, however, is that about 20% of San Diego County is made up of state parks, whereas LA is largely urban. This coupled with the smaller population can contribute greatly to the significantly smaller number of collisions, which is reinforced by the 18 accidents per square mile rate.

Orange County

Similar to San Diego in population but significantly smaller in square mileage than both counties mentioned above, Orange County is highly known for being a hub of popular and celebrity culture. This 948 square mile area, despite being significantly smaller, sees a collision rate on par with San Diego.

From 2015 to 2020, the area tracked 81,434 accidents with 115,696 injuries and 1,115 fatalities. This amounts to the same accidents per square mile as Los Angeles County, as well as being fairly similar in terms of PCF violation percentages.

  • Unsafe Speeds: 28,778 collisions
  • Automobile Right of Way: 13,328 collisions
  • Improper Turning: 9,305 collisions

These three factors came out to about 63% of all traffic collisions.

What the Data Tells Us About Los Angeles County Dangers

Considering the data collected and analyzed, the biggest contributing factor to naming Los Angeles County the most dangerous is, unsurprisingly, the number of people that may be on the roads at any given time — not population size. This is why Orange County could also be a contender for this top spot.

Both being huge tourism draws to the state, they have an uncommon number of people on the roads at any given time. So while population may be a factor, these statistics rely more on who is actually coming and going from the county on any given day.

Regardless of where you are planning your next trip, knowing what your options are if an accident occurs can save you from the added stressors of paying for damages. Levitt, Leichenger & Aberle LLP is a prominent LA County-based firm that has been helping injured victims in California for over 25 years. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident and an injury is sustained, call (323) 524-2400 to speak with a Beverly Hills personal injury attorney about your options.