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|
|Los Altos Hills||–||–||–||3||–|
|Santa Clara County||555||393||9||609||39|
Source: California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, https://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov/