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California roads are less crowded, but fatalities are rising

Soaring housing costs, climate change, overcrowding and the somewhat legendary traffic jams have made California less hospitable than it once was for folks looking for the good life. As a result of people moving away to seek easier, less expensive lifestyles, the population of the state has been on a decline.

In the one-year period from July 2021 to July 2022, the state lost more than 217,000 residents. That makes it very puzzling, then, that a recent study by a nonprofit research entity found that traffic fatalities actually rose 22% from 2019 to 2022.

What’s causing all the tragedy on California’s roads?

To be fair, California isn’t alone when it comes to this problem. The same report indicated that, nationwide, traffic fatalities rose 19%, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has sounded the alarm.

Experts suggest that this disturbing trend, both here and elsewhere, comes down to a few basic factors:

  • Aggressive driving: There are indications that the events of the last few years have caused an increase in aggressive driving, perhaps out of general frustration. Fatal accidents involving speeding, for example, have risen by 23%.
  • Recklessness: The same factors may also be compelling some drivers to take foolish risks, like not wearing their seatbelts or drinking and driving. Drunk driving accidents have climbed by 22%.
  • Unwillingness to share the road: Pedestrians and bicyclists are common in this state because both modes of transportation are affordable, eco-friendly and healthy. However, not every driver is willing to share the road. Pedestrians and cyclists make up 29% of the fatalities and are especially at risk in urban areas.

Whatever the cause of the increase in deadly car crashes, it pays to be extra cautious on the roads these days. Stay proactive about your defensive driving habits. If you are injured in a crash or a loved one is killed, it’s wise to find out more about your right to compensation.