San Jose Alcohol Related Injuries Are Up 1

“Lucky” by Francis Vallance (Heritage Warrior) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Compared to other population centers in California, the San Jose area appears to be doing well at limiting alcohol-involved injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol’s latest report on statewide traffic collisions. If alcohol-involved injuries were distributed evenly across the state, you’d expect Santa Clara County to have 787 of them. For 2013, the latest year on record, CHP reports 609 alcohol-involved injuries in the county.

But injury data doesn’t give you the full picture of how alcohol is affecting traffic safety in the community. You really want to see the number of alcohol-involved collisions and injuries. CHP doesn’t tally alcohol-involved collisions in its annual reports or custom summaries. If you want this information, you’ve got to sort through all collisions and identify every instance where an officer noted that someone had been drinking and was under the influence at the time of the collision.

Good news, we did it for you! We sorted through a full set of 8,528 Santa Clara County collision records from the first half of 2016 and found 555 alcohol-involved collisions and 393 alcohol-involved injuries. This is the most current raw data available. CHP will make full-year 2016 data available in August.

Collisions and injuries tell different stories. Here’s a good example to drive home the point.

In 2013, the city of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara County’s second-largest city after San Jose, had only six alcohol-involved injuries. In the first half of 2016, Sunnyvale had 19 alcohol-involved injuries, a big increase, but still less than you’d expect for a city its size.

Is Sunnyvale doing something right to control the number of alcohol-involved injuries? Not according to the collision records from the first half of 2016. During this six-month period, we found that Sunnyvale had 46 alcohol-involved collisions, more than you’d expect for a city its size. This suggests that Sunnyvale may be no better than other South Bay cities at addressing drunk driving, just lucky that all these collisions didn’t lead to more injuries.

When you look at collision and injury data together, two South Bay cities appear to have fewer incidents than you’d expect based on their population size, Los Altos and Palo Alto. Los Altos had only one alcohol-involved collision and two alcohol-involved injuries in the first half of 2016, while Palo Alto had 13 alcohol-involved collisions and eight alcohol-involved injuries.

One city, Campbell, appears to have more incidents than you’d expect based on population. Campbell had 18 alcohol-involved collisions, 15 injuries, and 1 fatality in the first half of 2016.

Overall, the number of alcohol-involved injuries in Santa Clara County are trending upward compared to 2013, the latest full year on record. As noted earlier, Santa Clara County had 609 alcohol-involved injuries in 2013. Halfway through 2016, the county was already approaching 400 of them. That’s a 30 percent increase, setting a pace for almost 800 alcohol-involved injuries for the year.

Santa Clara County Alcohol-Involved Collisions and Injuries

City Alcohol-involved collisions, 1st half 2016 Alcohol-involved injuries, 1st half 2016 Alcohol-involved fatalities, 1st half 2016 Alcohol-involved injuries, full-year 2013 Alcohol-involved fatalities, full-year 2013
San Jose 229 218 5 346 24
Santa Clara 46 28 1 30
Sunnyvale 46 19 1 6
Milpitas 32 16 27 1
Mountain View 30 11 25 1
Morgan Hill 26 12 16
Campbell 18 15 1 22 1
Gilroy 18 8 8 4
Los Gatos 17 6 13
Cupertino 16 12 10 1
Palo Alto 13 8 30
Saratoga 4 1 7
Los Altos 1 2 2
Los Altos Hills 3
Monte Sereno
Unincorporated 59 37 1 64 7
Santa Clara County 555 393 9 609 39

Source: California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System,

Author Photo

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Since 1972 he has been helping seriously injured victims throughout northern California fight & win their personal injury cases. Andy is one of the top awarded & recognized wrongful death lawyers in northern California.