Traffic Fatalities

Year to date traffic fatalities

Measure description

Fatality count is an outcome metric tabulated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) and reported city-wide. DPH is the lead department behind the City's Vision Zero Initiative. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and The San Francisco Police Department are also partners in Vision Zero.

Why the measure is important

Every year in San Francisco, about 30 people lose their lives and at least 500 more are severely injured while traveling on city streets. These deaths and injuries are unacceptable and preventable, and San Francisco is committed to stopping further loss of life.

Traffic fatalities by year

The number of annual fatalities is subject to year-to-year fluctuations and a high degree of random variation, limiting the ability to draw statistically meaningful trends on an annual basis. San Francisco will continue to monitor traffic fatalities and injuries to evaluate the success of Vision Zero strategies, policies, and investments.

A key component of transportation safety monitoring has been accurate and timely reporting of traffic fatalities, which has been successfully implemented in 2015 as outlined in the San Francisco Vision Zero Traffic Fatality Protocol. As indicated in the protocol, representatives from the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) meet monthly to reconcile the previous month’s traffic deaths using Office of the Medical Examiner’s and SFPD data. This coordinated method, which has proven successful for standardizing data collection and reporting for fatalities, will be expanded to track severe traffic injuries, providing additional valuable metrics to measure Vision Zero’s progress.

When the City and County of San Francisco adopted Vision Zero as a policy in 2014, it committed to building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws, and adopting policy changes that save lives. The goal is to create a culture that prioritizes traffic safety and to ensure that mistakes on our roadways do not result in serious injuries or death. The result of this collaborative, citywide effort will be safer, more livable streets as the city works to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

The City issued its second Vision Zero Two-Year Action Strategy in March 2017, outlining the initiatives city departments will take to advance Vision Zero through safe streets, safe people, and safe vehicles. The City's first Vision Zero Two-Year Action Strategy was issued in February 2015 and included goals in engineering, enforcement, education, evaluation, and policy. The timely, accurate and routine reporting and mapping of traffic fatalities is critical in evaluating the progress of Vision Zero for analyzing trends and spatial patterns over time and identifying the work prioritized in the Action Strategy.

View source data

Chart description

The chart above shows the number of deaths that have occurred in San Francisco in each calendar year. The Y-axis shows the number of deaths and each year's bar is color coded by mode of transportation. Dark blue shows people killed while cycling, orange shows people killed while driving, and green shows people killed while walking. The X-axis shows the calendar year. The unit of measurement is the number of people killed in San Francisco. Vision Zero maintains a target of 0 traffic fatalities.

View source data

Chart description

The chart above shows the number of deaths that have occurred in San Francisco in each calendar year. The Y-axis shows the number of deaths. The X-axis shows the calendar year. The unit of measurement is the number of deaths. 

 

Note about the Vision Zero Map

Please note that the source of the data has changed since August 2023 and we are working with the Department of Public Health to re-establish the data connection with the Vision Zero Map dashboard. 

How performance is measured

As defined in the Vision Zero Traffic Fatality Protocol, representatives from SFDPH, SFMTA, and SFPD meet on a monthly basis to reconcile transportation-related fatalities as reported from two primary data sources, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner and the SFPD. This routine process ensures that a standardized case definition is applied to all traffic fatalities and that there is consistency in reporting across all city agencies.

Traffic fatalities are reported by mode (people walking, biking, driving, motorcycling, and riding in a vehicle) and are compared to the same month in the previous year to provide a concise snapshot of the mortality burden in San Francisco. These modes are summarized as vehicle or motorcycle (auto or motorcycle fatalities), walking (pedestrian fatalities), and biking (bicycle fatalities). 

Fatalities included are:

  • anyone killed in or outside of a vehicle (bus, truck, car, motorcycle, bike, moped, light rail vehicle (LRV), etc.) involved in a crash
  • anyone killed within the public roadway due to impact with a vehicle or road structure
  • anyone who dies within 30 days of the public roadway incident as a result of the injury sustained within the City or County of San Francisco

In the event where a case dies within 30 days of the collision/incident date, but their death date occurs in the following calendar month or year, the case will be classified based on the collision date. This is consistent with the definition used by the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), the primary data source utilized by the City for fatalities tracking prior 2013 – with the exception of the inclusion of LRV. LRV traffic deaths involving motor vehicles are included and captured in the SWITRS database. However, fatality cases involving pedestrian/cyclist versus LRV are not captured in SWITRS, but will be included in the appropriate category for traffic fatality counts and will be noted with an asterisk below the table. This reporting approach facilitates long-term trend analysis of comparable datasets with previous years of SWITRS data

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents a year total of the values in the chart above.

Additional information

Data notes and sources

Primary data source: Click here to view the source data on DataSF

Data lag: 1 month

Data note: A 2020 death in the 'vehicle or motorcycle' category was a person killed while riding inside of a vehicle.

Data do not reflect freeway deaths occurring on grade-separated freeways/roadways under Caltrans jurisdiction in the City and County of San Francisco, which are tracked and mapped separately. They include:

  • 2022: 1 person walking, 3 people riding a motorcycle, 3 people riding in vehicles
  • 2021: 2 people walking, 1 person on a motorcycle, 1 person driving
  • 2020: 2 people walking, 2 people on motorcycles, 1 person riding in a vehicle
  • 2019: 2 people walking, 2 people on motorcycles, 4 people driving, 3 people riding in vehicles
  • 2018: 1 person walking, 2 people on motorcycles, 1 person riding in a vehicle
  • 2017: 3 people walking, 1 person on a motorcycle, 2 people driving
  • 2016: 3 people walking, 2 people on motorcycles

One cyclist death following a 3/8/21 collision was found to meet protocol criteria and was retroactively added to March totals.

Data Source: Motor Vehicle Death Reports, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner 2021, and SFPD Reports.

City Performance Scorecards