Another awful year on Los Angeles streets, with 337 traffic deaths

Fatalities climb 7% in the city, and number of pedestrians struck by vehicles rises again

Illustration of a body on ground after being hit by a car


The city of Los Angeles just experienced its deadliest year on the roads in at least a decade, with 337 fatalities.


This marks the third consecutive year that deaths have risen, and is a 7.3% increase from 2022, according to data from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Traffic Division. The low point in the last 10 years was 2015, when there were 186 automobile-related fatalities.


Bar chart of annual traffic collision deaths in the city of Los Angeles


At the Jan. 9 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that more people were killed in collisions than were murder victims in 2023 (there were 327 homicides, according to the most recent police data).


More than half of the deaths were pedestrians struck by vehicles; there were 176 victims through Dec. 23, according to Traffic Division Compstat data (year-end figures for pedestrian deaths are not yet available). In the entirety of 2022 there were 160 such deaths.


In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, a total of 136 pedestrians died after being struck by a vehicle.


Horizontal bar chart of pedestrians deaths in city of Los Angeles over 10 years


“The increase in pedestrian deaths has actually been a phenomenon that has been going on year after year,” Moore stated at the Police Commission meeting. “I believe much of it has to do with distracted driving, high-speed driving.”


Aiming for zero

There has also been a disturbing rise in people killed in hit-and-run incidents. The 105 such deaths last year was a double-digit increase from the year before. It is almost triple the number of hit-and-run fatalities recorded in the city in 2015.


Bar chart of annual hit and run deaths in the city of Los Angeles


Concern over traffic deaths in Los Angeles is nothing new. In 2015, then-Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the Vision Zero plan to eliminate automobile fatalities in the city by 2025. The tools to get there included improvements such as upgraded traffic signals and more protected bike lanes.


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Yet as Moore indicated, for every safety measure, there have been factors that make roads more dangerous, from people driving while intoxicated to those fiddling with a cell phone. At the Police Commission meeting he said the onus for safety increasingly falls on the pedestrian.


“Don’t rely upon engineering and road design and traffic controls to keep you safe,” he instructed. “You have to act defensively, and recognize that there are distracted motorists or impaired motorists that are on our streets.”


Different trend nationally

The increase in traffic deaths in Los Angeles appears to run counter to what is happening across the country. A preliminary analysis by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that in the first half of 2023, there were an estimated 19,515 traffic deaths in the United States, a 3.3% decrease from the same period the year before.


Across all of California, traffic fatalities in the first half of 2023 fell by 12%, according to the report.


The Los Angeles neighborhood with the most traffic-related deaths in 2023 was congested Downtown, with 16 fatalities. However, numerous deaths were tabulated in communities across the city, from South L.A. to the San Fernando Valley.


Table of neighborhoods in Los Angeles with the most traffic-related deaths in 2023


The situation was especially perilous late last year in South Los Angeles. During a two-week period, nine people died in a series of collisions. That included a mother and a 5-year-old boy whose vehicle was struck on Thanksgiving morning. The driver was suspected of being drunk and traveling at more than 100 mph.


There are ongoing steps to improve safety. Los Angeles is one of six California cities this year where, as part of a pilot program, speed cameras will be installed around some schools and what are known as high-injury networks. The cameras will be able to capture license plates, and tickets will be sent to the registered owner of a speeding vehicle.


Yet Moore said traffic deaths often happen in places people may not expect. He warned that fatalities frequently occur, “in streets that are narrow, and not the wide, expansive areas that you see for instance in the San Fernando Valley, with multiple lanes and center medians.”


How we did it: We examined publicly available collision data from the Los Angeles Police Department Traffic Division from January 1, 2010–Dec. 31, 2023, as well as LAPD Traffic Division Compstat Data. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects collisions that are reported to the department, not how many collisions actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past collision reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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