Traffic Accidents: How Alameda Stacks Up

State Office of Traffic Safety releases city-by-city rankings.

The good news in Alameda and across the state is that pedestrians, cyclists, bikers and drivers stand a much better chance of making it home in one piece.

And we have seat belts, improved auto design and education to thank, said a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The office has updated its Collision Rankings to include 2010 data, the most recent available, culling reports from the California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, county coroners, the state departments of finance and justice. The new rankings offer raw numbers and comparative scores, showing how each city compares to others of its size and how counties compare to the state.

Not since 1944 have traffic fatalities plunged so low, “and that’s with just one-twelfth of the number of people out on the road,” said Chris Cochran, assistant director of marketing and public affairs for the safety office.

“Overall, in the last five years, every category is getting better,” he said. “Even motorcycles turned around a couple years ago."

Alameda falls into Group C: cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000. There are 103. With a No. 1 ranking representing the worst and a 103 the best, Alameda ranked 76 out of 103 cities in the total number of victims injured and killed in traffic accidents: 209 victims in 2010.

By other measures, though the Island did not fare as well. Ranked by "daily vehicle miles traveled," a Caltrans estimate of the total number of miles all vehicles traveled on a city's streets during an average day in 2010, Alameda  ranked 38 out of 103 cities. (Remember, No. 1 is worst, No. 103 the best.)

Alameda also performed relatively poorly in terms of alcohol-related accidents (especially among drivers ages 21-34); pedestrian injuries and fatalities; and injuries and fatalities among cyclists.

Here's a look at Alameda's numbers as provided by the safety office for 2010. Notes: "Alcohol Involved" is where at least one party involved - driver, pedestrian or bicyclist - had been drinking. "HBD" means a driver had been drinking. "Composite" is an aggregate of several of the other rankings (alcohol-related, hit and run, nighttime, speed)  meant to give an indication of overall traffic safety.

POPULATION Total Fatal & Injury 209 38/103 76/103 Alcohol Involved 35 12/103 31/103 HBD Driver Under 21 3 24/103 42/103 HBD Driver 21-34 16 5/103 11/103 Motorcycles 9 27/103 50/103 Pedestrians 27 13/103 26/103 Pedestrians under age 15 2 62/103 76/103 Pedestrians 65+ 3 20/103 31/103 Bicyclists 41 7/103 10/103 Bicyclists under age 15 10 1/103


Composite 16/103 40/103


POPULATION Speed Related 30 49/103 83/103 Nighttime (9 pm-2:59 a.m. 29 4/103 27/103 Hit and Run 19 20/103 38/103 DUI Arrests 142, 0.32% 19/103

Public awareness campaigns like those that discourage drunk driving or encourage the use of seat belts have made an enormous dent in driving habits, Cochran said.

But the rankings alone can mislead.

“The smaller the city, the less accurate the rankings are,” Cochran said. “It only takes one or two to make big changes. Officials have to look more at the raw numbers, how do they look from year to year. The whole purpose is to see what can be done differently.”

For instance, a city with gaps in pedestrian safety can seek grants through the OTS to fund roadway improvements. Those with high numbers of alcohol-related crashes might seek funding for increased DUI patrols, checkpoints, or breathalyzer kits.

The results offered up some mysteries. For instance, Sacramento is the worst in the state for alcohol-related crashes. No single cause stands out.

The OTS is conducting its own public awareness campaign this month in an effort to get motorists to abandon the use of cell phones while driving – the number one source of motorist distraction, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: April is “National Distracted Driving Month.”

Jon Spangler April 12, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Carol and all: A full schedule of the bike safety classes offered by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition is available here: http://www.ebbc.org/safety All classes are FREE to Alameda County residents and you can take any class you like in any location. Just preregister and show up. These classes are funded by a $100,000 annual grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission and they are YOUR tax dollars at work....
Jon Spangler April 12, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Gear Up! Free Bicycle Safety Activities at Alameda South Shore Center Saturday May 5, 10:00 - 4:00 BikeAlameda and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition are teaming up to bring you a day of free bicycle safety activities at the Alameda South Shore Center on Saturday, May 5. This expanded event includes three unique free Bike Safety Classes taught by certified bike safety instructors and six hours of bike maintenance by our local bike shops. Please join us and bring a friend. Please note: the Commuter Workshop or previous attendance at a Traffic Skills 101 classroom session is a prerequisite for taking the Road Skills Part 2 class. These classes are intended for ages 14 and up. For information on workshops for kids and families or to pre-register for the May 5th classes, visit www.ebbc.org/safety (Excerpted from BikeAameda's April newsletter, edited to fit space limits.)
Jon Spangler April 12, 2012 at 06:49 AM
@Marie Long, Auto drivers make as many errors and bad decisions per mile or per minute as cyclists do. If cyclists were accorded their rights and proper respect by having a place in the street and roadway infrastructure there would probably be far fewer "renegade" cyclists. As it is, bikes are treated as "toys" and not serious transportation, and that needs to change as much as the poor cyclist and driver behaviors you noted.
Marie Long April 12, 2012 at 08:00 PM
@Jon, I agree completely. People often forget that when you have 2 or 3 wheels under you, you are subject to same laws as those with 4 or more wheels. But when the bike lanes are nowhere to be found (i.e.: Santa Clara between Webster and Third), auto drivers definitely should accord some courtesy and caution to those on bikes. It's not their fault the bike lanes often don't accomodate their route needs. .
Jon Spangler April 12, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Cyclists are actually safer without bike lanes than with them in some cases, Marie: 1. Many Alameda bike lanes are mostly or completely within the 5-foot wide de facto "door zone" and riding within the lane is dangerous and contraindicated. 2. Cyclists have a right to be on any street or road (except for some freeways) and have an absolute right to leave the right-hand side of a traffic lane to avoid potholes, broken glass, puddles, tree branches, cars and car doors, or other hazards. (See CVC sections 21202 ff: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21202.htm) 3. The painted lines of a bike lane provide zero actual protection to a cyclist when drivers violate them, which often occurs, but many cyclists relax in a false and dangerous sense of security while riding in bike lanes. I ride in the streets all the time, regardless of whether a bike lane exists on my route. I always ride 5-6 feet away from parked cars, which leads some drivers to think I am being "political," which is not the case (unless one counts self-preservation and defensive driving as "political"). These are all established practices that are documented statistically as being legal, effective, and safe for cyclists, and they are the practices we teach in all of our local classes, which follow the curricula established by the League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/education/).


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