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Here you’ll learn everything you need to know to buy the best car insurance policy in San Diego for your particular situation. You’ll see which carriers are rated as the best car insurance companies for customer satisfaction and what the average car insurance rates are for your neighborhood. You’ll also discover how much you can save from knowing how to make smart choices about coverage. And, find out how rates for San Diego drivers are affected by tickets, accidents and adding teen drivers.

Who Has The Best Car Insurance in San Diego, CA?

Deciding who has the best car insurance to suit your needs depends on what is most important to you. For some it may be price, while others may value customer service the most. Still others may be looking for the convenience of mobile apps, or a company that offers the most car insurance discounts. Below we list car insurance companies in San Diego, and who they are the best at serving, based on CarInsurance.com’s customer satisfaction survey of current policy holders and rate data analysis.

Best forCompany
ClaimsEsurance
Value/PriceTravelers
Customer ServiceGeico
Websites/AppsSafeco
RecommendGeico
Low Annual MileageFarmers Ins Exchange
Good StudentAMCO Insurance
BundleFarmers Ins Exchange
MarriedUnited Financial Casualty

Cheap Car Insurance in San Diego, California

Geico Gen Ins Co and United Financial Cas Co have the cheapest car insurance rates in San Diego, based on our rate analysis for three different coverage levels. The driver profile is for age 30, with good credit and a clean driving record. You can see how major insurers rank for price in the chart below

CompanyLiability Only - State Minimum BI/PDLiability Only - 50/100/50 BI/PDFull Coverage - 100/300/100 BI/PD - 500 Comp/Coll
Geico Gen Ins Co$347$453$1,344
United Financial Cas Co$482$640$1,638
Allstate Northbrook Ind Co$621$678$2,067
Farmers Ins Exch$668$800$2,201
State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co$697$903$2,284
Amco Ins Co$716$901$2,444

Car Insurance Coverage – How Much Car Insurance do I Need in San Diego?

Below we’ll explain what coverage you need to drive legally, which is your state required minimum liability limits, and what types of car insurance you may need to be truly protected.

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in San Diego

California car insurance laws require only that you insure yourself against bodily injury and property damage liability, so it’s your choice whether to add coverage for yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle.

If you have a newer model car, it makes sense to get comprehensive insurance and collision coverage. In California, comprehensive costs $159 and collision costs $877 , on an average per year, according to a rate data analysis done by CarInsurance.com. These optional coverages come with a deductible. That’s the amount you pay before your insurance company pays. Typical deductibles amounts are $1,000, $500 and $250 – you choose which one you want. The higher the deductible is, the lower your rate will be.

The best car insurance coverage usually isn’t the cheapest. You may be used if you’re in an accident and your insurance doesn’t cover all of the damages. That means your home or savings could be in jeopardy. To protect your assets, you should buy liability insurance in the following amounts:

  • $1,00,000 to pay for others’ medical bills
  • $3,00,000 to pay for injuries to others in an accident you cause
  • $1,00,000 to pay for damage to others’ property

 

You should also consider buying these optional coverages:

  • Comprehensive, which replaces stolen cars and covers damage to your car from floods, fire, hail, vandalism.
  • Collision, which pays for damage to your car from accidents.

The average rate for San Diego drivers for a year of minimum coverage is $588 according to our rate analysis. If you increased your coverage to 50/100/50, you would pay just about $11.75 more a month, or $141 more a year. You can get full coverage (100/300/100) by paying $117.33 more a month, or an additional $1,408 a year more than minimum-level coverage.

San Diego average for:

  • Minimum coverage: $588
  • 50/100/50: $729
  • 100/300/100: $1,996

Average Car Insurance Rates in San Diego

CarInsurance.com analyzed car insurance rates from six car insurance companies for nearly every ZIP code in California. Here's how San Diego's highest average rate $2,626 for ZIP 92135 compares to others, for a full coverage policy of 100/300/100 for a driver age 30:

  • $832 more than the least expensive average rate $1,794 in ZIP code 92128
  • $501 more than the state average $2,125
  • $867 more than the national average rate $1,759

Compare Car Insurance Quotes in San Diego – How to Save on Insurance Policy?

You can save an average of $1,158 annually on a full coverage policy in San Diego by comparing car insurance quotes, according to CarInsurance.com's rate analysis. While savings will depend on your particular circumstances, this shows that there is a significant benefit to shopping your policy.

Why Does Comparing Car Insurance Quotes Save Money?

No two insurance companies will charge the same amount of money for the same policy. So if you compare car insurance quotes and opt for the lowest, you won’t over pay. For example, the highest rate from any carrier surveyed for ZIP code 92135 , the priciest ZIP code San Diego car insurance, was $3,867 . The lowest was $2,117. The difference is $1,750, which is how much you could overpay. That’s why car insurance comparisons are paramount to finding the best cheap car insurance for your situation.

San Diego Car Insurance FAQ’s

How much does insurance go up after a speeding ticket in San Diego?

A speeding ticket in San Diego will hike your car insurance rates by an average of 47% , or about $787 yearly. CarInsurance.com’s rate analysis shows how much more drivers in San Diego can expect to pay, on average, for speeding and other common violations. Minor traffic violations, such as speeding, typically stay on your record for about three years, and you can expect to see the rate increase upon your policy renewal date. More severe infractions, such as DUI, typically stay on your record much longer.

San Diego drivers can expect to see a hike in their rates in the range of 49% for minor moving violations such as tailgating or blowing through a stop sign, 182% for more severe infractions such as DUI. Below you’ll see how much rates increase, on average, for common traffic violations. Remember, though, that because insurance companies assess risk differently, you can still save by comparison shopping, because one carrier may ding you a lot for a citation, while another may spike your rate by much less.

ViolationAverage rateRate after violation$ Increase% Increase
DUI/DWI third offense$1,692$8,640$6,948411%
DUI/DWI second offense$1,692$6,758$5,066299%
DUI/DWI first offense$1,692$4,777$3,085182%
Reckless driving$1,692$4,638$2,946174%
Operating a vehicle in a race (highway racing)$1,692$4,638$2,946174%
2 speeding tickets 11 mph or over$1,692$3,466$1,774105%
Driving without a license or permit$1,692$3,211$1,52090%
Distracted driving ticket$1,692$2,695$1,00459%
Texting ticket$1,692$2,633$94156%
Talking on cellphone ticket$1,692$2,633$94156%
Driving without insurance$1,692$2,633$94156%
Careless driving$1,692$2,623$93155%
Improper/illegal pass$1,692$2,582$89053%
Improper turn$1,692$2,522$83049%
Following too closely$1,692$2,522$83049%
Failure to yield$1,692$2,522$83049%
Failure to stop$1,692$2,522$83049%
Seatbelt infraction$1,692$1,692$00%

An accident will increase car insurance rates by 68% to 89%, on average, for drivers in San Diego. When you file a claim for an accident that's your fault, typically your car insurance rates will increase. However, claims under your comprehensive coverage, if you have it as it’s optional, typically won’t trigger an increase. That’s because comprehensive claims are for damage insurers consider to be beyond your control, for instance due to hail, fire, flooding, falling objects or collisions with an animal. The table below shows how much for drivers in San Diego can expect to pay for common car insurance claims.

AccidentAverage RateRate after claim$ Increase% Increase
2 At-fault property damage accident over $2k$1,692$4,460$2,769164%
At-fault bodily injury accident$1,692$3,197$1,50589%
1 At-fault property damage accident under $2K$1,692$2,851$1,15968%
1 At-fault property damage accident over $2K$1,692$2,851$1,15968%

In San Diego, adding a 16-year-old daughter to your policy will hike your rates by $3,084 annually, or 182% It's more for boys. Insuring your 16-year-old son will increase your yearly rate by $4,232 , or 250% according to CarInsurance.com rate data. Teen drivers are inexperienced, and are involved in more accidents than older drivers, according to federal research, and insurance companies categorize them as high-risk drivers, so they cost more to insure. If you're insuring a teen driver of any age, you can get expert tips, more rate data by age and details from our “Parents guide to insuring a teen driver."

CarInsurance.com data show that for drivers in San Diego, your rate will go up by an average of $3,111 or 184%. If you're convicted of a serious offense, such as DUI or reckless driving, you may be required to have your insurance company file an SR-22 form on your behalf. An SR-22 is a car insurance company’s guarantee to the state that you are carrying the legally mandated coverage. If you are required to have an SR-22 filed, your car insurance rates will increase.

San Diego driver statistics

San Diego commuters

The U.S. Census estimates that the average drive time for San Diego workers 16 and older to their job is 24.1 minutes. That’s shorter than the national average of roughly 27.1 minutes.

The mean time calculated by the Census includes time spent waiting for public transportation, picking up passengers in carpools and on other activities related to getting to work.

Data compiled by Data USA showed that 1.44% of the San Diego workforce are "super commuters," meaning they drive an excess of 90 minutes to their job. Data USA found that the average drive time for San Diego commuters in 2018 was 22.5 minutes, still much shorter than the national average.

Of the commuters:

  • Drive alone: 73.9%
  • Carpooled: 9.28%
  • Worked at home: 6.84%

Notably, that "drive alone" contingent is vastly higher than other California cities. San Francisco’s rate is 32.4%.

The "Fatal 15": San Diego's most dangerous intersections

The San Diego Police Department said traffic deaths (260) equalled murders between 2012 and 2016.

Where’s the worst place for drivers? The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno released its Top 10 Most Accident Prone Roads in San Diego along with descriptions:

  • Interstate 5: The high frequency of traffic on the I-5 can reach up to a million drivers daily as the stop-and-go traffic causes a consistent amount of accidents requiring attentive and careful driving.
  • Interstate 15: Expect to be completely stopped on most days as traffic accidents usually require the shutdown of lanes. A frequent amount of drunk drivers are pulled over on this highway as well.
  • Freeway 67: Nicknamed "Bloody Alley," the 25-mile stretch of highway from El Cajon all the way to Mount Woodson is known for its blind turns and twisting roads.
  • University and Marlborough Avenue: Accounting for 10% of pedestrian accidents in all of San Diego in 2015, these roads can be a very dangerous place to be at night.
  • Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue: Featured on San Diego's "The Fatal Fifteen List" for sharing the second most dangerous intersection for pedestrians, these streets feature an increased amount of bicyclists because of the nearby beach.
  • El Cajon Boulevard: Speeding cars and unwary crossers have been known to cause an alarming amount of accidents on this road.
  • Fifth Avenue: The nine-block street that forms San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is known for its busy narrow streets and unaware pedestrians.
  • Market Street: Similar to Fifth Avenue, Market Street located in downtown San Diego attracts accidents by not only bicyclists, cars and pedestrians but public transportation systems as well.

Circulate San Diego, a pedestrian and driver safety advocacy group, also released in 2018 its list of the 15 most dangerous intersections.

The list includes:

  1. University Avenue & 52nd Street
  2. 6th Avenue and Broadway
  3. El Cajon Boulevard and 36th Street
  4. 4th Avenue and B Street
  5. Coronado Avenue (SB) and Thermal Avenue
  6. 5th Avenue and B Street
  7. Euclid Avenue and Naranja Street
  8. Broadway and 5th Avenue
  9. 10th Avenue and A Street
  10.  4th Avenue and Market Street
  11.  Front Street and Ash Street
  12.  University Avenue and 4th Avenue
  13.  11th Avenue and Broadway
  14.  Market Street & 6th Avenue
  15.  El Cajon Boulevard and 33rd Street

 

San Diego traffic fatalities and serious injuries

In 2019, 44 people traveling by foot, bicycle, motorcycle or vehicle died in the city of San Diego, according to city data compiled by Circulate San Diego.

Overall, 14 fewer fatalities occurred in 2019 than in 2018. However, 2019 had more fatalities than 2017. Half of the 2019 fatalities were pedestrians, according to the report. The 22 pedestrian fatalities was down from the 34 in 2018.

Five bicyclists died in 2019 after two years in a row with zero bicyclist fatalities in the San Diego area.

The San Diego Police Department provides an interactive map that shows deaths and injuries dating back to 2014 related to collisions involving vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, bicycles and other types.

 

Surge in San Diego car accidents

After many years of fewer injury-causing and fatal car accidents in San Diego, the city saw a surge in 2016. There were 21,534 car accidents in San Diego County that year, an increase of 5% from the previous year, reports SAFE Roads USA.

The rise in accidents was blamed on two factors:

  • Poor road conditions
  • A surge in dangerous driving behaviors

 

How many cars get stolen in San Diego?

The city of San Diego has kept records of crime reports in certain categories, including vehicle thefts, since 1950. In 1950, there were 774 reported auto thefts. Needless to say, vehicle thefts have grown since then.

Here are the vehicle thefts in San Diego in more recent years:

  • 2009: 7,496
  • 2010: 6,389
  • 2011: 6,259
  • 2012: 6,610
  • 2013: 6,143
  • 2014: 5,006
  • 2015: 5,096
  • 2016: 5,839
  • 2017: 5,135
  • 2018: 5,182

 

DUI rates

As one of the 15 most-populous cities, San Diego was included in a roundup of DUI assessment by Insurify in 2017. Insurify took data points from an expansive 2016 County Health Rankings study. Population data was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau's June 2017 population estimates.

Coming in at number 8 on Insurify's list, San Diego "earns the dubious honor of being the city with the most drivers with a DUI among the nation's 15 most populous urban centers, perhaps following in the footsteps of its SoCal neighbors. Drinking to excess and DUI-related fatalities seem to be significant characteristics of San Diego County, too."

  • Drivers with a DUI: 2.56%
  • Difference from national average: 62% higher
  • Adults reporting excessive drinking: 22% (San Diego County)
  • Traffic fatalities involving alcohol: 29% (San Diego County)

 

DUI arrests

The 2015 county DUI arrest rates for California ranged from 0.2 to 1.8 DUI arrests per 100 licensed drivers (the state-wide average rate was 0.5), according to the 2017 annual report (the latest available) of the California DUI Management Information System.

Seventeen counties had arrest rates of 0.5 or below in 2015 compared to seven counties in 2014. Three counties had rates of 0.4 or below: Contra Costa (0.4), San Francisco (0.2) and Santa Clara (0.4).

San Diego DUI arrests have declined 5.2% from 2014 to 2015:

  • 2013: 12,298
  • 2014: 11,120
  • 2015: 10,547

 

Pedestrian deaths

Walk Score rates any address in the United States with a "walkability rate." The rate determines how easy it is to walk on a particular street or intersection.

In terms of California cities, San Diego fell behind several others, including Fresno, San Jose, Los Angeles and, in particular, San Francisco. San Francisco is rated as the country's second most walkable city, just behind New York City. San Diego landed at number 42 in the walkability city list, with a walkability score of 51.3.

However, while the "City in Motion" may be fairly welcoming if you're going it afoot, it also tries to fight like other metropolitan areas the sobering statistics of pedestrian deaths. The San Diego Police Department reported that 34 people died in 2018 after being hit by a vehicle, which was an increase of 17 victims in 2017.

San Diego fell further down the list for its public transit score, which is 43.0.

 

San Diego congestion

San Diego is no Los Angeles when it comes to congested traffic. Los Angeles was the fifth slot in 2018 on the "most congested urban areas in the U.S." list, and came in at number 47 in the world.

San Diego wasn’t quite as bad, ranking 40th on that same annual report compiled by INRIX on the "most congested urban areas in the U.S." list. San Diego came in at 184th in the "world's most congested cities for the 2018" traffic scorecard. The country's list is topped by Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles.

Sitting in traffic does more than just raise blood pressure. It can also hurt your wallet. In 2018, San Diego drivers lost approximately $781 each annually due to congestion. That’s nothing compared to Boston, which lost $2,291 per person.

According to the study, San Diego drivers spend 56 hours stuck in congestion per year, driving an average 15 mph during the last inner-city mile of travel.

Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco overshadowed San Diego on another congestion measurement list, too. GPS giant TomTom releases an annual traffic index, ranking the most congested cities by country and the world. With a 26% congestion level, San Diego landed at 17 in North America (number 12 in the United States) in a 2018 list that was topped by Mexico City, Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York. The city's congestion had increased by 1% from 2017. San Diego ranked 182nd for traffic congestion globally on the TomTom list.

 

Vehicle ownership

Compared nationally, San Diego households are within the average range for car ownership. The largest share of households in the city has two cars, followed by one car, according to recent statistics from Data USA. The 2018 results also showed that nearly 20% of San Diego households had three cars and 5% had five cars.

A U.S. Census survey in 2016 showed that there were 1.8 vehicles available per household nationwide.

The study showed, in San Diego:

  • 2015 Households Without Vehicles: 6.6%
  • 2016 Households Without Vehicles: 6.3%
  • 2015 Vehicles per Household: 1.76
  • 2016 Vehicles per Household: 1.8

 

Vision Zero initiative

Several regions in California are known for having the worst traffic congestion in the country, often translating into higher collision and accident rates. While San Diego is no Los Angeles in this regard, the city wrestles with its share of crashes and deaths on its streets.

In 2015, San Diego joined hundreds of cities across the country when its City Council signed a resolution to become a "Vision Zero" city with the mission to have "zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2025."

It was in 2014 that a group of national organizations originally adapted Vision Zero, which was developed in Sweden, to establish a national strategy on highway safety referred to as Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). It focuses on data-driven topics, such as safer drivers, safer passengers, safer users, enhanced medical services, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles.

 

Distracted driver law in San Diego

California law prohibits cell phone use while driving, except in hands-free mode. The only exceptions are if you’re driving on private property or use the phone to call emergency services. Otherwise, it's considered an infraction, and using a cell phone while driving can get you a $20 base fine for the first offense and $50 for the second.

In October 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 47, which penalizes drivers caught texting or using a handheld cell phone by adding a point to the driver's record. Personal injury attorneys Bisnar and Chase reported that starting on July 1, 2021, a point would be issued for any distracted driving conviction that occurs within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.

 

Road test pass rate

Road test pass rate data gathered from thousands of YoGov's DMV customers for the past years across the Bay Area shows that San Diego drivers have a 75% pass rate. Compare that to other California cities and towns, with a 41% pass rate in Los Angeles and 73% in Sacramento.

 

 

San Diego Commuters

The U.S. Census estimates that the average drive time for San Diego workers 16 and older to their job is 24.1 minutes. That’s shorter than the national average of roughly 27.1 minutes.

The mean time calculated by the Census includes time spent waiting for public transportation, picking up passengers in carpools and on other activities related to getting to work.

Data compiled by Data USA showed that 1.44% of the San Diego workforce are "super commuters," meaning they drive an excess of 90 minutes to their job. Data USA found that the average drive time for San Diego commuters in 2018 was 22.5 minutes, still much shorter than the national average.

Of the commuters:

  • Drive alone: 73.9%
  • Carpooled: 9.28%
  • Worked at home: 6.84%

Notably, that "drive alone" contingent is vastly higher than other California cities. San Francisco’s rate is 32.4%.

 

The "Fatal 15": San Diego's Most Dangerous Intersections

The San Diego Police Department said traffic deaths (260) equalled murders between 2012 and 2016.

Where’s the worst place for drivers? The Law Offices of Eugene G. Bruno released its Top 10 Most Accident Prone Roads in San Diego along with descriptions:

  • Interstate 5: The high frequency of traffic on the I-5 can reach up to a million drivers daily as the stop-and-go traffic causes a consistent amount of accidents requiring attentive and careful driving.
  • Interstate 15: Expect to be completely stopped on most days as traffic accidents usually require the shutdown of lanes. A frequent amount of drunk drivers are pulled over on this highway as well.
  • Freeway 67: Nicknamed "Bloody Alley," the 25-mile stretch of highway from El Cajon all the way to Mount Woodson is known for its blind turns and twisting roads.
  • University and Marlborough Avenue: Accounting for 10% of pedestrian accidents in all of San Diego in 2015, these roads can be a very dangerous place to be at night.
  • Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue: Featured on San Diego's "The Fatal Fifteen List" for sharing the second most dangerous intersection for pedestrians, these streets feature an increased amount of bicyclists because of the nearby beach.
  • El Cajon Boulevard: Speeding cars and unwary crossers have been known to cause an alarming amount of accidents on this road.
  • Fifth Avenue: The nine-block street that forms San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is known for its busy narrow streets and unaware pedestrians.
  • Market Street: Similar to Fifth Avenue, Market Street located in downtown San Diego attracts accidents by not only bicyclists, cars and pedestrians but public transportation systems as well.

Circulate San Diego, a pedestrian and driver safety advocacy group, also released in 2018 its list of the 15 most dangerous intersections.

The list includes:

  1. University Avenue & 52nd Street
  2. 6th Avenue and Broadway
  3. El Cajon Boulevard and 36th Street
  4. 4th Avenue and B Street
  5. Coronado Avenue (SB) and Thermal Avenue
  6. 5th Avenue and B Street
  7. Euclid Avenue and Naranja Street
  8. Broadway and 5th Avenue
  9. 10th Avenue and A Street
  10.  4th Avenue and Market Street
  11.  Front Street and Ash Street
  12.  University Avenue and 4th Avenue
  13.  11th Avenue and Broadway
  14.  Market Street & 6th Avenue
  15.  El Cajon Boulevard and 33rd Street

 

San Diego Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries

In 2019, 44 people traveling by foot, bicycle, motorcycle or vehicle died in the city of San Diego, according to city data compiled by Circulate San Diego.

Overall, 14 fewer fatalities occurred in 2019 than in 2018. However, 2019 had more fatalities than 2017. Half of the 2019 fatalities were pedestrians, according to the report. The 22 pedestrian fatalities was down from the 34 in 2018.

Five bicyclists died in 2019 after two years in a row with zero bicyclist fatalities in the San Diego area.

The San Diego Police Department provides an interactive map that shows deaths and injuries dating back to 2014 related to collisions involving vehicles, motorcycles, pedestrians, bicycles and other types.

 

Surge in San Diego Car Accidents

After many years of fewer injury-causing and fatal car accidents in San Diego, the city saw a surge in 2016. There were 21,534 car accidents in San Diego County that year, an increase of 5% from the previous year, reports SAFE Roads USA.

The rise in accidents was blamed on two factors:

  • A surge in dangerous driving behaviors
  • Poor road conditions

 

How Many Cars Get Stolen in San Diego?

The city of San Diego has kept records of crime reports in certain categories, including vehicle thefts, since 1950. In 1950, there were 774 reported auto thefts. Needless to say, vehicle thefts have grown since then.

Here are the vehicle thefts in San Diego in more recent years:

  • 2009: 7,496
  • 2010: 6,389
  • 2011: 6,259
  • 2012: 6,610
  • 2013: 6,143
  • 2014: 5,006
  • 2015: 5,096
  • 2016: 5,839
  • 2017: 5,135
  • 2018: 5,182

 

DUI Rates

As one of the 15 most-populous cities, San Diego was included in a roundup of DUI assessment by Insurify in 2017. Insurify took data points from an expansive 2016 County Health Rankings study. Population data was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau's June 2017 population estimates.

Coming in at number 8 on Insurify's list, San Diego "earns the dubious honor of being the city with the most drivers with a DUI among the nation's 15 most populous urban centers, perhaps following in the footsteps of its SoCal neighbors. Drinking to excess and DUI-related fatalities seem to be significant characteristics of San Diego County, too."

  • Drivers with a DUI: 2.56%
  • Difference from national average: 62% higher
  • Adults reporting excessive drinking: 22% (San Diego County)
  • Traffic fatalities involving alcohol: 29% (San Diego County)

 

DUI Arrests

The 2015 county DUI arrest rates for California ranged from 0.2 to 1.8 DUI arrests per 100 licensed drivers (the state-wide average rate was 0.5), according to the 2017 annual report (the latest available) of the California DUI Management Information System.

Seventeen counties had arrest rates of 0.5 or below in 2015 compared to seven counties in 2014. Three counties had rates of 0.4 or below: Contra Costa (0.4), San Francisco (0.2) and Santa Clara (0.4).

San Diego DUI arrests have declined 5.2% from 2014 to 2015:

  • 2013: 12,298
  • 2014: 11,120
  • 2015: 10,547

 

Pedestrian Deaths

Walk Score rates any address in the United States with a "walkability rate." The rate determines how easy it is to walk on a particular street or intersection.

In terms of California cities, San Diego fell behind several others, including Fresno, San Jose, Los Angeles and, in particular, San Francisco. San Francisco is rated as the country's second most walkable city, just behind New York City. San Diego landed at number 42 in the walkability city list, with a walkability score of 51.3.

However, while the "City in Motion" may be fairly welcoming if you're going it afoot, it also tries to fight like other metropolitan areas the sobering statistics of pedestrian deaths. The San Diego Police Department reported that 34 people died in 2018 after being hit by a vehicle, which was an increase of 17 victims in 2017.

San Diego fell further down the list for its public transit score, which is 43.0.

 

San Diego Congestion

San Diego is no Los Angeles when it comes to congested traffic. Los Angeles was the fifth slot in 2018 on the "most congested urban areas in the U.S." list, and came in at number 47 in the world.

San Diego wasn’t quite as bad, ranking 40th on that same annual report compiled by INRIX on the "most congested urban areas in the U.S." list. San Diego came in at 184th in the "world's most congested cities for the 2018" traffic scorecard. The country's list is topped by Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles.

Sitting in traffic does more than just raise blood pressure. It can also hurt your wallet. In 2018, San Diego drivers lost approximately $781 each annually due to congestion. That’s nothing compared to Boston, which lost $2,291 per person.

According to the study, San Diego drivers spend 56 hours stuck in congestion per year, driving an average 15 mph during the last inner-city mile of travel.

Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco overshadowed San Diego on another congestion measurement list, too. GPS giant TomTom releases an annual traffic index, ranking the most congested cities by country and the world. With a 26% congestion level, San Diego landed at 17 in North America (number 12 in the United States) in a 2018 list that was topped by Mexico City, Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York. The city's congestion had increased by 1% from 2017. San Diego ranked 182nd for traffic congestion globally on the TomTom list.

 

Vehicle Ownership

Compared nationally, San Diego households are within the average range for car ownership. The largest share of households in the city has two cars, followed by one car, according to recent statistics from Data USA. The 2018 results also showed that nearly 20% of San Diego households had three cars and 5% had five cars.

A U.S. Census survey in 2016 showed that there were 1.8 vehicles available per household nationwide.

The study showed, in San Diego:

  • 2015 Households Without Vehicles: 6.6%
  • 2016 Households Without Vehicles: 6.3%
  • 2015 Vehicles per Household: 1.76
  • 2016 Vehicles per Household: 1.8

 

Vision Zero Initiative

Several regions in California are known for having the worst traffic congestion in the country, often translating into higher collision and accident rates. While San Diego is no Los Angeles in this regard, the city wrestles with its share of crashes and deaths on its streets.

In 2015, San Diego joined hundreds of cities across the country when its City Council signed a resolution to become a "Vision Zero" city with the mission to have "zero traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2025."

It was in 2014 that a group of national organizations originally adapted Vision Zero, which was developed in Sweden, to establish a national strategy on highway safety referred to as Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). It focuses on data-driven topics, such as safer drivers, safer passengers, safer users, enhanced medical services, safer infrastructure and safer vehicles.

 

Distracted Driver Law in San Diego

California law prohibits cell phone use while driving, except in hands-free mode. The only exceptions are if you’re driving on private property or use the phone to call emergency services. Otherwise, it's considered an infraction, and using a cell phone while driving can get you a $20 base fine for the first offense and $50 for the second.

In October 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 47, which penalizes drivers caught texting or using a handheld cell phone by adding a point to the driver's record. Personal injury attorneys Bisnar and Chase reported that starting on July 1, 2021, a point would be issued for any distracted driving conviction that occurs within 36 months of a prior conviction for the same offense.

 

Road Test Pass Rate

Road test pass rate data gathered from thousands of YoGov's DMV customers for the past years across the Bay Area shows that San Diego drivers have a 75% pass rate. Compare that to other California cities and towns, with a 41% pass rate in Los Angeles and 73% in Sacramento.