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.TYPE OF COLLISION VICTIMS
INJURED RANKING BY
MILES TRAVELED RANKING BY
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
2/103Composite 16/103 40/103
TYPE OF COLLISION FATAL &
COLLISIONS RANKING BY
MILES TRAVELED RANKING BY
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.”