Media outlets were quick during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns that defined the summer and fall of 2020 to note just how little traffic there was as a result. Simple logic would suggest that less traffic equals a lower likelihood of accidents and thus fewer injuries and fatalities. Sadly, this was not the case.

Nationwide, traffic fatalities rose 7.2% in 2020 to nearly 39,000. That number was the highest recorded since 2007. Qualifying this disturbing fact is a sticky wicket—common denominators behind traffic deaths such as impaired driving, failure to use a seat belt, and excessive speed were certainly contributing factors, but they alone do not account for a rise in deaths commensurate with a 430-million-mile drop in the number of miles people traveled across the course of the year. What can be qualified, however, is where fatal crashes took place.

Citing data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Stacker identified the counties in California that had the most fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in 2020. The number of accident fatalities are ranked by the number of deaths per 100,000 people, with the raw number functioning as a tiebreaker. The analysis only looked at counties with at least five deaths during 2020. Additional data is included on pedestrian, bicyclist, and drunk-driving-related deaths. In counties where at least five fatalities happened on the same street or interstate, the road with the most deaths is also included.

San Diego came in at 37th on the list of counties in California with the most motor vehicle accident fatalities.

#50. San Francisco County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 3.6 per 100K people (#1,693 nationally, 31 deaths)
– 13 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 0 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#49. San Mateo County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 4.9 per 100K people (#1,659 nationally, 37 deaths)
– 11 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 10 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-101 (9 fatalities)

#48. Alameda County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 5.6 per 100K people (#1,618 nationally, 93 deaths)
– 30 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 27 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-880 (13 fatalities)

#47. Santa Clara County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 5.7 per 100K people (#1,609 nationally, 110 deaths)
– 37 pedestrian deaths
– 8 bicyclist deaths
– 21 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-101 (15 fatalities)

#46. Orange County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 5.7 per 100K people (#1,608 nationally, 183 deaths)
– 74 pedestrian deaths
– 14 bicyclist deaths
– 48 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-5 (13 fatalities)

#45. Santa Barbara County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 6.3 per 100K people (#1,586 nationally, 28 deaths)
– 3 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 15 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-101 (6 fatalities)

#44. Santa Cruz County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 6.6 per 100K people (#1,571 nationally, 18 deaths)
– 9 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 5 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#43. Sonoma County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 6.7 per 100K people (#1,565 nationally, 33 deaths)
– 6 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 8 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#42. Ventura County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 6.9 per 100K people (#1,556 nationally, 58 deaths)
– 12 pedestrian deaths
– 4 bicyclist deaths
– 25 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-33 (7 fatalities)

#41. Los Angeles County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 7.2 per 100K people (#1,539 nationally, 725 deaths)
– 276 pedestrian deaths
– 27 bicyclist deaths
– 139 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-5 (25 fatalities)

#40. San Luis Obispo County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 7.8 per 100K people (#1,508 nationally, 22 deaths)
– 4 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 7 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-101 (6 fatalities)

#39. Solano County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 8.4 per 100K people (#1,477 nationally, 38 deaths)
– 11 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 8 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-80 (14 fatalities)

#38. Placer County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 8.7 per 100K people (#1,462 nationally, 35 deaths)
– 4 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 10 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-80 (9 fatalities)

#37. San Diego County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 8.8 per 100K people (#1,450 nationally, 291 deaths)
– 87 pedestrian deaths
– 7 bicyclist deaths
– 75 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-5 (28 fatalities)

#36. Contra Costa County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 8.9 per 100K people (#1,443 nationally, 103 deaths)
– 29 pedestrian deaths
– 5 bicyclist deaths
– 25 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-4 (16 fatalities)

#35. Sacramento County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 9.9 per 100K people (#1,389 nationally, 155 deaths)
– 50 pedestrian deaths
– 5 bicyclist deaths
– 35 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-5 (10 fatalities)

#34. El Dorado County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 10.0 per 100K people (#1,382 nationally, 19 deaths)
– 2 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 10 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#33. Monterey County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 11.2 per 100K people (#1,306 nationally, 49 deaths)
– 9 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 23 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-1 (13 fatalities)

#32. Yolo County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 12.0 per 100K people (#1,245 nationally, 26 deaths)
– 3 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 13 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#31. Riverside County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 12.4 per 100K people (#1,213 nationally, 299 deaths)
– 84 pedestrian deaths
– 8 bicyclist deaths
– 89 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-74 (19 fatalities)

#30. Tuolumne County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 12.7 per 100K people (#1,201 nationally, 7 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 2 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#29. Siskiyou County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 13.6 per 100K people (#1,143 nationally, 6 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 1 death involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#28. Nevada County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 13.7 per 100K people (#1,131 nationally, 14 deaths)
– 3 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 7 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#27. Napa County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 13.7 per 100K people (#1,130 nationally, 19 deaths)
– 4 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 4 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-29 (7 fatalities)

#26. Stanislaus County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 14.2 per 100K people (#1,101 nationally, 78 deaths)
– 18 pedestrian deaths
– 3 bicyclist deaths
– 22 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-99 (9 fatalities)

#25. San Joaquin County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 15.2 per 100K people (#1,025 nationally, 117 deaths)
– 22 pedestrian deaths
– 9 bicyclist deaths
– 40 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Roads with most fatalities: SR-99, SR-4 (9 fatalities each)

#24. Humboldt County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 15.3 per 100K people (#1,019 nationally, 21 deaths)
– 5 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 9 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#23. Sutter County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 16.1 per 100K people (#968 nationally, 16 deaths)
– 5 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 6 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-99 (7 fatalities)

#22. Imperial County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 16.1 per 100K people (#967 nationally, 29 deaths)
– 11 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 1 death involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-8 (8 fatalities)

#21. Merced County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 16.5 per 100K people (#939 nationally, 46 deaths)
– 11 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 12 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-5 (7 fatalities)

#20. San Bernardino County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 16.8 per 100K people (#919 nationally, 364 deaths)
– 80 pedestrian deaths
– 6 bicyclist deaths
– 79 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: I-15 (41 fatalities)

#19. Fresno County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 17.0 per 100K people (#911 nationally, 171 deaths)
– 43 pedestrian deaths
– 8 bicyclist deaths
– 40 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-41 (15 fatalities)

#18. Glenn County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 17.4 per 100K people (#895 nationally, 5 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 1 death involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#17. Tulare County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 17.6 per 100K people (#883 nationally, 83 deaths)
– 10 pedestrian deaths
– 5 bicyclist deaths
– 35 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-99 (7 fatalities)

#16. Kings County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 17.8 per 100K people (#870 nationally, 27 deaths)
– 4 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 9 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-41 (11 fatalities)

#15. San Benito County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 18.9 per 100K people (#819 nationally, 12 deaths)
– 1 pedestrian death
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 4 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#14. Madera County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 19.2 per 100K people (#801 nationally, 30 deaths)
– 6 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 13 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-41 (6 fatalities)

#13. Butte County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 19.3 per 100K people (#790 nationally, 42 deaths)
– 10 pedestrian deaths
– 2 bicyclist deaths
– 10 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-99 (5 fatalities)

#12. Calaveras County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 19.8 per 100K people (#760 nationally, 9 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 2 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#11. Shasta County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 21.4 per 100K people (#698 nationally, 39 deaths)
– 6 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 11 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-299 (10 fatalities)

#10. Kern County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 22.3 per 100K people (#665 nationally, 202 deaths)
– 32 pedestrian deaths
– 4 bicyclist deaths
– 73 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-99 (17 fatalities)

#9. Lake County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 25.1 per 100K people (#576 nationally, 17 deaths)
– 4 pedestrian deaths
– 1 bicyclist death
– 3 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-20 (6 fatalities)

#8. Mendocino County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 26.2 per 100K people (#533 nationally, 24 deaths)
– 1 pedestrian death
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 9 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Roads with most fatalities: SR-20, US-101 (6 fatalities each)

#7. Tehama County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 29.1 per 100K people (#433 nationally, 19 deaths)
– 1 pedestrian death
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 10 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: SR-36 (5 fatalities)

#6. Lassen County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 33.4 per 100K people (#346 nationally, 11 deaths)
– 2 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 6 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-395 (9 fatalities)

#5. Colusa County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 36.7 per 100K people (#272 nationally, 8 deaths)
– 1 pedestrian death
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 2 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#4. Amador County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 39.9 per 100K people (#241 nationally, 16 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 6 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#3. Trinity County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 44.3 per 100K people (#197 nationally, 7 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 2 deaths involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities

#2. Inyo County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 63.8 per 100K people (#79 nationally, 12 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 3 deaths involving drunk drivers
– Road with most fatalities: US-395 (7 fatalities)

#1. Modoc County, California

– Motor vehicle crash fatalities: 80.2 per 100K people (#43 nationally, 7 deaths)
– 0 pedestrian deaths
– 0 bicyclist deaths
– 1 death involving drunk drivers
– No roads with at least five fatalities