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Numbers Show Traffic Fatalities at 68-year Low

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

The good news in San Ramon 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 marking and public affairs for the safety office.

San Ramon falls into Group C: cities with populations between 50,001 and 100,000. There are 103 cities in that group. So, being ranked 1 is the worst and 103 is the best.

The data breaks down the rankings between two categories based on rates of fatal and injury collisions per “1,000 daily-vehicle-miles-of-travel" (Caltrans data) and per “1,000 average population" (Department of Finance data) figures.

Here is San Ramon's data for 2010:

TYPE OF COLLISIONVICTIMS
KILLED &
INJUREDRANKING BY
DAILY VEHICLE
MILES TRAVELEDRANKING BY
AVERAGE
POPULATION Total Fatal and Injury 157 69/103 91/103 Alcohol Involved 22 39/103 67/103 HBD Driver < 21 1 67/103 75/103 HBD Driver 21 - 34 8 25/103 43/103 Motorcycles 5 62/103 78/103 Pedestrians 10 72/103 87/103 Pedestrians < 15 4 29/103 48/103 Pedestrians 65+ 1 57/103 71/103 Bicyclists 6 87/103 93/103 Bicyclists < 15 2 58/103 75/103 Composite   55/103 84/103

This doesn't factor in a recent string in bicycle related injuries, including one in March .

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.

He added that the whole purpose of the report 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.”

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