Editorial: With Major Accident Crashes Up 40%, Drivers Must Begin to Change Habits

By Mike Burkholder


In the past week, it may seem like East Contra Costa County has had an uptick in vehicle crashes, but the truth is 2018 data is showing East County is actually having an increase in vehicle crashes.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, there was one fatal crash in Pittsburg while East Contra Costa Fire reported 10 patients in a matter of two-hours in three separate vehicle crashes. On Sunday, there were more crashes.

On Monday, sadly a 10-year-old juvenile was struck in a cross walk in Brentwood and remains in critical condition. Meanwhile in Antioch, 3 juveniles were struck near Antioch high School—one being a hit and run. There was also another hit-and-run on Kirker Pass involving a motorcycle. All of this within about a 90-minutes time frame.

The point is, there are hundreds of other examples including a female who was struck in a crosswalk on Empire Ave on September 5 in the City of Oakley. She was airlifted to a local hospital.

Photo provided by Contra Costa County Fire

Further proof of peoples inability to drive safely these days, Contra Costa County Fire Engines have been struck at least 4-times in 2018. Hitting a fire engine is pretty impressive on Highway 4, especially with an excuse of “I didn’t see the fire truck”. If people are hitting fire engines, we all may be in trouble on East County roads.

According to data requested by this publication from Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (CONFIRE) and East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), here are the number of vehicle crashes between January 1 through September 17, 2018 when compared to 2017:

CONFIRE (Battalion 8 only)

  • 2017 – 494 total accidents / 2018 – 554 total accidents (10.83 % increase)
  • 2017 – 72 accidents with rescue / 2018 – 118 accidents w/rescue (38.98 increase)
  • Overall increase is 15.77% in accidents

ECCFPD (Battalion 5 only)

  • 2017 – 339 total accidents / 2018 – 434 total accidents (8.7% increase)
  • 2018 – 59 accidents with rescue / 2018 – 84 accidents w/rescue (42% increase)

From the data, not only are there more vehicle crashes, the crashes are bigger and more serious. Furthermore, we have not even hit rainy season and the issue is not limited to just one city or area, but all of East Contra Costa from Bay Point to Discovery Bay.

A 40% increase in accidents with rescue equate to more time spent on scene of a vehicle crash as multiple fire engines are required which also requires more police to shut down roadways and in some cases, multiple AMR units are requested to the scene for transport. No one wins in this scenario.

I’d also like to point out that due to the high number of vehicle crashes, this publication has actually stopped publishing traffic crashes because it would be full of them each day. We now focus on the more major crashes that impact traffic.

After a pedestrian was struck in a crosswalk in Oakley, they were airlifted to a local hospital.

It is time for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclist to become more willing to follow traffic laws, speed limits, parking, and laws around school zones. Each are equally responsible for road safety and need to begin paying more attention.

Let’s go a step further.

Think about it, how much trust are you putting into other drivers not to crash into you? Not to hurt you? If you are crossing a cross walk, trust that a driver will actually stop and let you cross? We are getting to a point where people are either ignoring traffic laws and speed limits, or simply just do not care anymore.

We are almost at the point where we may begin having to wear mouth guards where we drive, even a football helmet or gear just to make it home safely. If you put trust in others, they should return the favor and put trust in you to not be a jackass on the road.

Do we all need to login to our Amazon Accounts and purchase a Dash Cam? Just to have in case someone else hits us?

Some will argue we need more police and traffic units. Yes, I agree, but even if they doubled in staffing they still can’t be everywhere. Furthermore, even if police gave out more tickets, which they have been doing, it wouldn’t change driving habits.

Here are some of the recent reporting of citations from proactive traffic enforcement details over the past several months.

Photo by Pittsburg Police

On September 5, Antioch Police reported that a traffic enforcement detail netted in 120 citations to citizens while Pittsburg Police say on June 26 a similar operation resulted in 124 citations.  Brentwood police reported on June 27 an operation in Brentwood and Oakley resulted in 86 citations—with one citation for a driver going 105-mph.

One conversation I had with a traffic officer recently was they could give 100-tickets per day times 7-officers and it would still not change habit because some people do not want to change their habit. Traffic cops are doing their part, which we should all appreciate as they are giving tickets out on their way to work.

For example, officers that live in Brentwood and Oakley that commute westbound are now patrolling Highway 4 on their way to work–this is brilliant by the way!

If officers are stepping up, its time the community also step up with regards to traffic safety. There is no reason for a huge jump in major accidents–especially 40%. I will not pretend to know the answer, it is a big problem, especially with marijuana DUI’s, but there has to come a point where we all become responsible in changing driving habits and the mentality that people can get away with speeding, running red lights, parking illegal, and other non-safe traffic maneuvers east county drivers have created for themselves.

As a community, we need to become more self-aware of their own driving habits, remove distracted driving opportunities such as phones and other idiocies and simply drive from Point A to Point B in a safe manner.

Ultimately, we should all become more patient and courteous on our roadways when people’s lives are at risk.

Mike Burkholder
Publisher of ECT
[email protected]


  1. Gee Mike, “Drivers must change their habits” that is a “no-brainer” there. I bet you too think Hurricane Florence was a “really wet hurricane”, “wettest on record in terms of water” like that idiot who is occupying the White House.

  2. The fact of the matter is that east county has the worst drivers in the bay area, many drivers ignore the California Vehicle Code and approach driving like a free for all. People such a hurry regardless of the science that clearly shows that speeding and running red lights saves very little time in reaching the destination, but increases the potential for accidents and injury to other drivers and pedestrians by a huge factor. I find it hard to believe that some of these crazy drivers were able to even pass a driving test and raises the question do they even have licenses. Common courtesy and mutual respect for others seems to be at an all time low in the public arena and not just in driving but in all aspects of day to day life. Rather than evolving as a species the human race seems to be devolving to a lower standard, I’m sure that sociologists have research data on this but I blame the lack of the importance of a moral compass is partly to blame.

  3. Some times you have to say the obvious so people can get it through their thick skulls. Really Vince, so rude. Thanks Mike, an article some people need to read every day.

  4. I think the problem is that anyone with $30 bucks can get a driver’s license here. The tests are a joke. Stupid people are allowed to drive. This should stop. They run others off the road like the one I’ve seen driving on SR-4 eastbound many times. They just drive right into you when you’ve got less than a car length in front of you. Change lanes without looking whom they are cutting off and then complain if someone follows them and gets them in a “road rage.” People are not paying attention to what’s going on around them when they drive. They are too busy texting or yapping with their cell phones in their ears.

  5. The majority of these crashes occur on the freeways where now there seems to be no speed limit. This is NOT Germany! Or the Italian autostrada. The speed limit on our freeways must be lowered! People are distracted and many simply do not pay attention to their driving. CHP needs to spread out more and start cracking down on those drivers. There are quite a few who should not even have been given drivers licenses.

  6. I was heading west on SR-4 when a couple were arguing loudly and the woman was trying to grab the stirring wheel from the guy! Swerving all over the lanes! You want to settle your differences? Get off the freeway and pull into some street and duke it out!

Comments are closed.