California has a traffic problem, everyone knows that. You can’t stuff a tenth of the country’s population into one state (and put most of them near the coast) and not end up with some backup around rush hour.

While the backup does tend to get most of the headlines due to the long lines of traffic, that doesn’t mean the traffic is the biggest problem. Or, not the traffic in and of itself. The biggest problem is the accidents the traffic causes.

In 2014, for instance, more than 13,000 people received non-fatal injuries which required serious treatment due to car accidents. That’s only the beginning of the problem, unfortunately, because California also is the state with the most deaths due to car crashes. That number is a stunning 3,000 per annum. That’s 3,000 deaths per year in California, which makes up about one in every eleven deaths nationally one that takes place on our roads.

However, there’s reason not to get too upset and consider drastic measures. It’s worth pointing out that one of the major reasons the number is so high is because so many people live in this state. After all, if we have a tenth of the population and an eleventh of the car-related fatalities, we’re slightly ahead of the game, right?

That may be right, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing more to keep our roads safer. An increase in lanes and a greater policing of speeds would do a great deal not just to ease traffic but to lower the figures of those who are injured and die in car accidents. A further requirement for a review course of the rules of the road, or a more stringent testing before giving licenses would also help with these issues.

Living in a place with so many people, we have to work together to keep each other safe. Using more space, keeping a better eye on the problem, and increasing our knowledge and awareness of what is going on on the road and what we should do would all go a long way towards keeping every one of us safer.

California prides itself on pushing for a better world together, on being ahead of the rest of the country on big, bold initiatives. Let’s be the first state to take on car accidents and really make a significant difference in those numbers. Let’s aim not to have one in every eleven fatalities but one in every twenty-one, or every thirty-one. If we can make that kind of change, the rest of the country will follow suit. We could end up making a major difference to a whole lot of lives, but we’ve got to start working together on this issue and pushing for more to be done.

Otherwise, we’ll just end up sitting back, content with how things are, and that’s the sort of attitude that leads to things getting worse, not better.