California has nearly 400,000 miles of highways crisscrossing the nation’s most populous state. Unfortunately, the Golden State is near the top for highway fatalities each year. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 4,258 people died on state roadways, a 10.7% increase over 2020.
The surge in traffic deaths has been seen nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic, but that gives no comfort to those who have lost loved ones. Sadly, the fatality rate doesn’t look like it’ll ease soon. NHTSA estimates that 2,149 people died in car wrecks in California in the first half of 2022, a nearly 2% increase over 2021.
The three most dangerous highways in the Bay Area
Personal finance website MoneyGeek studied NHTSA statistics for the state’s nearly 4,500 highways from 2017 to 2019, examining over 10,000 deadly crashes. The group’s findings were dubious for motorists in the Bay Area. While the Los Angeles metro area has twice as many people as the Oakland/San Francisco region, the Bay Area is home to more deadly stretches of highway. According to MoneyGeek’s findings, here are the top three in our area:
- Interstate 80 between Exit 14A and Exit 8A – Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Berkeley
- I-80 from Exit 15 to Exit 21 – San Pablo, Pinole, El Cerrito, Richmond
- I-880 from Exit 31 to Exit 36 – The Nimitz Freeway from San Leandro to Oakland
The Bay Area is tied with L.A. as the fourth-most congested urban area in the United States. The first two deadly stretches named above are the state’s second and third-most dangerous highways.
Largest factors in highway fatalities
While the research was conducted before the pandemic began, the primary causes of fatal accidents remain the same. The survey found that speeding was responsible for 28% of all fatal accidents, alcohol was a factor in 27% of traffic deaths and distracted drivers were involved 4% of the time. The deadliest months for motorists during this period were November, September, July and December.