New Release: 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheets

Understanding Current Traffic Safety Data to Inform Future Road Safety Needs

September 29, 2023

2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheets feature recent data on some of California's most pressing traffic safety issues to help inform future road safety efforts

UC Berkeley SafeTREC is excited to announce the release of the 2023 series of Traffic Safety Fact Sheets, which feature traffic safety data and trends at the national and state level on a variety of road safety topics. This series also highlights the Safe System approach to road safety, which the United States Department of Transportation uses to work towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries. This approach recognizes that people may make unsafe decisions and designs a system with many redundancies in place to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable road users. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) names safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care as key elements of a Safe System. These elements together create multiple layers of protection to improve safety.

Bicycle SafetyVisual of a Bicycle

Bicycling is becoming more popular across the country for commuting, exercise, and leisure. However, in the event of a traffic crash between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist, the bicyclist is the more vulnerable party and more likely to be injured or killed. In 2021, there were 966 bicyclists killed in a traffic crash in the United States. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Bicycle Safety.

Pedestrian SafetyVisual of a Person Walking

Pedestrian crashes are defined as crashes where one or more victims is a pedestrian. As a commute mode, walking is gaining in numbers. Along with that, pedestrian fatalities are also increasing. Pedestrian safety pertains to safe road users, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care elements of Federal Highway Administration’s Safe System. Analyses presented in the pedestrian program area include fatal and serious injuries to pedestrians. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) only includes pedestrians on foot, whereas the Statewide Integrated Trafc Records System (SWITRS) fatal and serious injury analysis includes both pedestrians and persons on personal conveyances, e.g., skateboards, wheelchairs, etc.. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrian Safety.

Motorcycle Safety Visual of a Motorcycle

Crashes involving motorcycles are a major traffic safety concern in the United States. Since motorcyclists are more susceptible to injury during crashes, they comprise a disproportionate share of all injured and killed vehicle occupants. In 2021, motorcyclists comprised 13.8 percent of all traffic deaths in the US. For comparison, motorcycles made up 3.5 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2021 and accounted for only 0.6 percent of all Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT.) Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycle Safety.

Occupant Protection and Child Passenger SafetyVisual of a Seatbelt

Restraint devices such as seat belts are a key element of motor vehicle occupant protection systems. Analyses presented in the occupant protection program area include fatal and serious injuries where a driver or passenger in a passenger vehicle was unrestrained. Occupant protection crashes in this web page are defined as crashes where one or more occupants in a passenger vehicle was unrestrained. Under this program area, there are additional analyses that address child passenger safety. Each year, the National Highway Trafc Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) that measures, among many variables, the daytime use of seat belts by occupants aged eight and older. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Occupant Protection and Child Passenger Safety.

Emergency Medical ServicesVisual of an Ambulance

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) play a critical role post-crash to reduce fatalities and serious injuries. Studies have shown that an effective emergency trauma care system can improve survival from serious injuries and decrease crash fatalities. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) names Post-Crash Care as a key element of a Safe System. Specifically, post-crash care refers to emergency first response and transport to medical facilities, as well as forensic analysis of the crash site and traffic incident management. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Emergency Medical Services.

Alcohol-Impaired and Alcohol-Involved DrivingVisual of a Wine Glass

Alcohol-impaired driving, for which data was obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), refers to fatal crashes in which at least one driver or motorcyclist was estimated to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. Alcohol-involved crashes, for which the data is obtained from th Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), include fatal and serious injury crashes where law enforcement reported a driver or motorcyclist to have been drinking, without specific details of BAC. Eliminating unsafe driving following consumption of alcohol through enforcement is part of the Safe Road Users element of the United States Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach. While alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have fallen significantly in the last three decades, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that alcohol-impaired driving still comprises a large percentage of traffic injuries and fatalities. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol-Impaired and Alcohol-Involved Driving.

Drug-Involved DrivingVisual of a Pill

Drug-involved driving consists of driving under the influence of illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs. This includes polysubstance abuse, or the use of multiple drugs at the same time, which is an emerging concern identified by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB), and the use of cannabis while driving. Driving can be negatively afected by a variety of legal and illegal drugs, including over-the-counter medications. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Drug-Involved Driving.

Older Adult Road UsersText visual saying 65 and over

The older adult population in the United States aged 65 and older is expected to almost double between 2016 and 2060, from 49.2 million to almost 95 million people. As drivers age, physical and mental changes, including reduced visual acuity, increased fragility, restricted movement, and cognitive impairment, may, directly and indirectly, result in driving impairments. The Federal Highway Administration’s Safe System Approach recognizes human mistakes and vulnerabilities and designs a system with many redundancies to protect everyone. Designing streets to limit the impact of kinetic energy transfer in crashes may provide special benefits to older adults, as increased fragility exacerbates the severity of traffic injuries and the likelihood of death. Analyses presented in this section include fatal and serious injuries to drivers, passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motor vehicle occupants aged 65 and older. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Older Adult Road Users.

Speeding-Related and Other CrashesVisual of a Speedometer

A speeding-related crash is defined as one in which a driver is racing, driving too fast for the conditions, or driving in excess of the posted speed limit. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects, reduces the amount of time a driver has to react to a dangerous situation, and extends safe stopping distances. Designing streets to limit the impact of speeding-related crashes and protecting people even when they make unsafe decisions are part of the Safe Roads and Safe Road Users elements of the United States Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach. It also includes eliminating speeding and other unsafe behavior through enforcement. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Speed-Related and Other Crashes.

Distracted DrivingVisual of a car

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from safe driving. Examples of distracted driving include but are not limited to talking or texting on cell phones, eating and drinking, talking to people inside the vehicle, and manipulating audio systems or navigation systems. Nationally, 3522 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2021. Read the full 2023 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Facts: Distracted Driving.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.