Oklahoma City Road Safety Overview

Oklahoma City Road Safety Overview

According to the U.S. News & World Report, Oklahoma City has the third-highest traffic fatality rate in the U.S. after Albuquerque and Louisville. Taking this into account, the same report lists Oklahoma City as the 13th riskiest city in the country for drivers.

These dangers do not make the city unnavigable. Understanding Oklahoma City’s road safety issues can help you avoid them so you can drive around the city safely.

Oklahoma City Car Accident Statistics

According to the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) 2021 Crash Facts Report, Oklahoma City had 5,398 traffic crashes in 2021 that caused injury or death. It had another 13,537 crashes that caused only property damage. That year, the city had a population of 662,314 residents, and its drivers had 18,935 traffic accidents.

These crashes included the following:

  • 250 pedestrian accidents
  • 88 bicycle accidents

The state did not release the number of single-vehicle accidents for 2021. But the crash totals include collisions with fixed objects like buildings and bridge supports. They also include crashes where a vehicle ran off the road or rolled over without colliding with any other vehicles.

Car Accident Outcomes

A car accident can produce a wide range of outcomes depending on the speed of the vehicles and the nature of the collision. According to the OHSO, traffic crashes in Oklahoma City in 2021 caused:

  • 99 fatalities
  • 356 serious injuries that required an ambulance
  • 1,736 minor injuries that produced a visible, non-incapacitating wound
  • 5,599 complaints of pain or other symptoms without any visible wound

Based on the city’s population that year, you can calculate that it had a traffic death rate of 14.9 traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents. This number is lower than the state average of 19.1 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents but higher than the national average of 12.9 traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Dangerous Times To Drive In Oklahoma City

According to the OHSO Interactive Crash Map, the most dangerous time to drive in Oklahoma City happens during the afternoon commute. Crashes jump significantly starting around 3 p.m., then peak between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. They drop slightly until about 6 p.m. before they fall off significantly for the evening.

Weekdays have relatively uniform crash numbers, with one exception. Crashes jumped over 16% on Friday compared to the average for the rest of the week. Weekend days had lower crash numbers than weekdays. The average number of crashes on weekend days was about 11% below the average for weekdays.

Causes Of Oklahoma City Car Accidents

Most Oklahoma City crashes happen for only a few reasons. Some common causes of traffic accidents in the city, according to the OHSO, include the following:

Failing To Yield

Intersection crashes almost always result from a failure to yield the right of way. Examples of driving behaviors that fit within this category of traffic violation include:

  • Disobeying stop signs and red lights
  • Going out of turn at multi-way stops
  • Turning left or right before oncoming traffic clears

These violations can produce side-impact collisions. Worse yet, most drivers with the right of way expect a clear intersection. As a result, these crashes can occur at full speed, with one vehicle crashing into the door of the other car.

The speed and point of impact can cause the door to collapse. The occupants of the vehicle can suffer crushing injuries that disable or kill.

Distracted Driving

Distractions can include anything that pulls you mentally or physically away from driving. Examples of distractions include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Texting
  • Adjusting the sound system
  • Talking to passengers

Distracted drivers cannot spot road or traffic hazards. Distractions also prevent drivers from reacting when they finally see them.


Speeding includes exceeding the speed limit and driving too fast for conditions. High speeds increase the risk that a driver will lose control of their vehicle. It also increases the crash energy, so any collision produces more serious injuries.


When drivers follow too closely, they do not have enough time to stop safely. As a result, they can cause a rear-end crash.

The occupants in both vehicles will whip back and forth after a rear-end crash. As a result, they may suffer serious injuries such as whiplash, concussions, and chest bruises.

Intoxicated Driving

Intoxicated driving is not a common cause of crashes overall in Oklahoma City. But it is the fourth most common cause of fatal traffic accidents.

Drugs and alcohol impair a driver by:

  • Affecting their judgment
  • Slowing their reflexes
  • Altering their ability to judge speed and distance

Alcohol-related crashes in Oklahoma City injured or killed 356 people in 2021. Drug-related collisions injured or killed 170 people in the city that year.

Road Safety For Vulnerable Road Users

Vulnerable road users include pedestrians and bicyclists. These people have no protection from injuries in vehicle collisions. As a result, they have a higher risk of both injury and death when cars hit them. In 2021, collisions with vulnerable road users in Oklahoma City caused:

  • 26 pedestrian fatalities
  • 2 cyclist fatalities
  • 200 pedestrian injuries
  • 69 cyclist injuries

Once you account for those who suffered no injuries, over 90% of people in pedestrian accidents suffered injury or death. Similarly, nearly 81% of people in bicycle crashes suffered injury or death.

Navigating Oklahoma City Safely

Oklahoma City’s crash numbers paint a deceptive picture. The total number of crashes, injuries, and deaths seems low. But bear in mind that Oklahoma City only has about 660,000 residents. As a result, these low numbers mean that accidents in the city have a huge impact on local drivers.

You can avoid a crash if you drive the speed limit and slow down when the weather turns bad. Put away your cell phone while you drive, and exercise caution at intersections. Finally, drive sober and always wear a seat belt. You can navigate the city’s roads and intersections safely with just these few tips.