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Many studies commonly cite the number of total traffic fatalities by state – but how many fatalities occur in each county in America? Viewing the number of fatalities by county allows for a more accurate look at the distribution of motor vehicle fatalities, especially in cases where major cities encompass the overwhelming majority of fatalities in the state.
The map below shows the total number of motor vehicle deaths for every county in the United States, as reported by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Counties that are grey had no reported fatalities in 2018. Hover over any county on the map to see the total fatalities in that county.
|Rank||COUNTY||STATE||2018 Fatals||2017 Fatals||Inc/Dec||2017 Rank|
|1||Los Angeles County||CALIFORNIA||670||658||1.82%||1|
|4||San Bernardino County||CALIFORNIA||298||294||1.36%||8|
|9||San Diego County||CALIFORNIA||255||231||10.39%||9|
|12||Palm Beach County||FLORIDA||182||190||-4.21%||19|
|23||Suffolk County||NEW YORK||132||130||1.54%||25|
|30||Mecklenburg County||NORTH CAROLINA||115||114||0.88%||30|
|32||Santa Clara County||CALIFORNIA||111||113||-1.77%||38|
|35||San Joaquin County||CALIFORNIA||107||111||-3.60%||28|
|39||Prince George’s County||MARYLAND||95||102||-6.86%||40|
|41||Bernalillo County||NEW MEXICO||92||99||-7.07%||45|
|45||El Paso County||TEXAS||87||91||-4.40%||55|
|48||New Haven County||CONNECTICUT||85||88||-3.41%||56|
Los Angeles County was home to the most motor vehicle fatalities in 2018, with 670 fatalities – a 1.82% increase from 2017. This is not surprising: LA County is not only the most populous county in the state of California, but the most populous county in the nation, with more than 10 million people residing within county lines. That, plus the robust, busy network of highways and freeways, increase the likelihood of higher numbers of fatal crashes.
Maricopa County in Arizona ranks second with 490 total traffic fatalities in 2018. Home to the Phoenix major metropolitan area, Maricopa County is an unfortunate surprise on this list. In 2018, the state of Arizona had 1,010 traffic fatalities – a high number, but far from the top five states with the highest number of fatalities. By comparison, California had 3,563 traffic fatalities – more than three times as many as Arizona. Although Maricopa County is the fourth most populous county in the United States, it has less than half the population of Los Angeles County – with 75% of the total fatalities. This is a serious cause for concern in Arizona, and warrants a serious evaluation of the traffic safety measures in place in Maricopa County.
Harris County in Texas ranks third with 389 traffic fatalities in 2018. Home to the vast Houston metropolitan area, Harris County is the third most populous county in the United States. Interestingly, Harris County had the largest year-over-year decrease in fatalities on this list, having nearly 15% less traffic deaths in 2018 than in the year before. Despite that, it maintained its 2017 rank at third place.
Jackson County ranks on this list as well, in 44th place with 89 total traffic fatalities. However, the county has seemingly made progress on traffic safety, with a 5.32% decrease in fatalities compared to 2017 – dropping nine places from 35th the previous year.
Pinpointing traffic fatalities by county is arguably more valuable for inspiring change on a more significant level for traffic safety in America. By analyzing traffic fatality data on a more granular level, we can gain insight into counties that are hot spots for traffic deaths (such as Maricopa County) that we wouldn’t have otherwise found if looking by state.
In doing so, we can hopefully diriect attention to the counties which have high numbers of traffic activity, empowering counties to investigate these situations and make changes based on these data.
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