Everything in life carries a certain level of risk. Using the roads—whether as a driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian—is no different. When you back out of your garage, put your feet on the pedals, or step out for a walk, you are taking a risk. But the level of risk will vary depending on a number of circumstances.
Where you live can have a big impact on the level of risk you assume to do certain activities—such as driving. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) collects data about collisions for California cities each year. This data is analyzed and shared with the public to inform them about safety and risk of driving in different cities. OTS ranks the cities in different categories, depending on population size, so you can see how safe it is to drive in your city compared to others of similar size.
To understand the OTS ranking system, you need to know what the two numbers you see in the boxes on the chart mean. The second number is simply how many cities were included in the population size group. The first number is what tells you where your city ranked. If you see 40/50 for bicyclists, that means the city ranked 40th out of 50 similarly sized cities for collisions involving a bicyclist that resulted in a personal injury or death. A lower number is a worse rank, as it means there were more injuries or deaths in that category compared to other cities. A higher number is a better rank. Thus, in a category of 50 cities, 1/50 is the worst and 50/50 is the best.
If you are living or driving regularly in Woodland, California, you can breathe a little sigh of relief. Woodland’s overall (composite) ranking was 93/104. That means, according to the OTS statistics, fatal or injury car accidents in Woodland occur less often than they do in about 90% of similarly-sized California cities. In 2016 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), there were 186 total fatalities and injuries from vehicle accidents.
In fact, Woodland ranked well in many categories. For collisions involving a motorcycle, Woodland ranks near the very top at 102/104. Driving in Woodland at night is relatively low-risk, as the 100/104 ranking in the nighttime category indicates.
Of course, every city has room for improvement. Part of the purpose of the OTS rankings is to inform cities (and their citizens) of emerging or ongoing safety problem areas so they can be addressed. Woodland’s worst ranking in 2016—42/104—was for accidents involving a bicyclist. The only other two categories in which Woodland scored lower than the 50th percentile were accidents involving pedestrians younger than 15-years-old (48/104) and accidents involving bicyclists under 15-years-old (50/104).
Sometimes comparing the risk from city to city stops short of painting the whole picture. Though Woodland ranked 93/104 in 2016, it might be worth noting that in 2015, Woodland was ranked 104/105. In one year, Woodland fell from the 99th percentile in overall traffic safety to the 89th percentile. Total fatalities and personal injuries from car accidents in Woodland rose from 106 in 2015 to 186 in 2016. That’s about a 75% increase between the two years. While Woodland is still a relatively safe place to drive according to the OTS statistics, it might be wise for the city and its citizens to take a step back and examine the situation.
The OTS statistics are a great resource. But, the truth is, driving is inherently risky. Even in relatively safe cities, car accidents happen. Sometimes those accidents result in personal injury. Even after you’ve been in an accident, you can take steps to reduce some risks so you are not held accountable for things that are not your fault. Be sure you know what to do if you are ever in a car accident in Woodland. Download the ebook, Five Things You Must Do After a Car Crash, a free resource from Wells, Call, Clark, Bennett & Clawson, personal injury lawyers in your area.
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