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|San Diego, California Statistics|
|City Density||4,337 people per square mile|
|Average Cost of Insurance||$4,414.64|
|Cheapest Car Insurance Company||Progressive|
|Road Conditions||Poor - 34% |
Mediocre - 30%
Fair - 19%
Good - 17%
Vehicle Operating Costs - $694
It’s not difficult to imagine.
Driving along La Jolla’s breathtaking coastline. Hitting the streets of the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Cruising the highway alongside the towering mountains of Julian. Jumping in the car to dine in Little Italy. Or, having a beach day in Coronado.
For the motorist looking to take on the roads of San Diego, California, there is no shortage of sights or destinations. But for those looking to explore car insurance coverage in California’s second-largest city, they’ll also discover no shortage of options — to the point where choosing the right provider may seem daunting.
Here’s the thing — determining the right course of action for your car insurance involves much more than just your vehicle. What part of San Diego you live in, how many miles you drive, and whether you own a home can impact your rates.
But if you’re wondering where and how you can even begin to find all of this information, we have good news — it’s all in this guide.
Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about driving in San Diego, from cheap car insurance rates, to company-to-company comparisons, to average rates by driving record.
We’re also digging into San Diego’s economy, giving you a closer look at wages, employment, and higher education.
Finally, we’ve got the inside scoop on the city’s busiest highways, tolls, public transportation, crime, and parking.
The best part? This guide covers all of these topics…and so much more.
Navigating the streets of San Diego as an informed driver begins here. You can also compare rates by entering your zip code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool.
The Cost of Car Insurance in San Diego
We’re sure you’ve heard it before — there are a lot of factors that impact the cost of your car insurance. For drivers living in San Diego, this is no exception. For instance, the community you live in — whether that’s North Park, Mission Valley, or Miramar — can result in significantly higher or significantly lower rates.
And of course, there’s always the company you choose to go with and what level of coverage you’re seeking for your car.
What you end up paying as a San Diego driver doesn’t have to remain a mystery. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of car insurance in San Diego, beginning with some basic demographics.
San Diego Rates by Age, Gender, & Marital Status
Male or female, single or married, young or old.
Whether we like it or not, our demographics can have bearing on what we end up paying in premiums.
So what does that mean for drivers living in San Diego?
Rates by Age
First thing’s first — the median age in San Diego is 34.5. This is important, because 35-year-old drivers in San Diego are paying some of the lowest rates:
In examining our Quadrant data for San Diego, we see the obvious — premiums for teenage drivers are the highest, and by a longshot. Our calculations show that the rates for 17-year-old drivers are more than three times higher than their 60-year-old counterparts, and more than two times higher than those of 25- and 35-year-olds.
In the end, 60-year-old drivers have the lowest average premium on this list, at just over $2,000.
Rates by Gender (Male vs. Female)
The fact that your gender can play a role in what you pay in premiums is a commonly known fact in the car insurance industry.
We compared the average rates between male and female drivers in San Diego and found the difference to be minimal, with men paying $161 more in premiums:
But here’s what you need to know — in the state of California all of this is changing, and it’s all as a result of the Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation.
As of January 1, 2019, outgoing California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones banned the use of gender in setting insurance rates for private passenger cars. In a press release, state officials go on to say
“the Commissioner’s Gender Non-Discrimination in Automobile Insurance Rating Regulation mandates that all automobile insurance companies operating in California file a revised class plan that eliminates the use of gender as a rating factor.”
Rates by Marital Status & Age
Finally, there’s the question of marital status. Who tends to pay less in car insurance premiums — single drivers or married drivers?
We combed the data for San Diego, and here’s what we found:
|Married 60-year old female||$2,063.00|
|Married 60-year old male||$2,068.32|
|Married 35-year old male||$2,298.94|
|Married 35-year old female||$2,340.99|
|Single 25-year old female||$2,930.89|
|Single 25-year old male||$3,019.45|
|Single 17-year old female||$5,804.91|
|Single 17-year old male||$7,042.47|
The verdict? San Diego residents who are married are paying lower rates across the board, particularly those in their 60s. And where the rates among single, 25-year-olds are either at or just below $3,000, the rates among single, 17-year-olds are exponentially higher than the rest. Single, 17-year-old males are paying rates more than three times that of married, 60-year-old females.
Cheapest Zip Codes in San Diego
Here’s a question: can your San Diego zip code make a difference in what you pay for your car insurance?
The answer? Absolutely. According to Allstate,
“Where you live and where you park your car overnight may affect your car insurance premium. Urban neighborhoods typically have higher rates of accidents, theft and vandalism than more rural areas, which means premiums may be higher.”
We gathered the data for San Diego in the table below:
|Zip Code||Average Rate|
So, which San Diego zip codes are paying the highest in premiums? 92105 (which includes City Heights and Oak Park), 92140 (near the airport), 92134 (includes Inspiration Point North), and 92135 (at NAS North Island). In each of these zip codes, San Diego drivers’ rates range between $5,100 and $5,700.
As for the zip codes with the lowest rates? Those in the communities of Scripps Ranch (92131), Sabre Springs (92128), and Carmel Mountain Ranch (92128) have nearly the same rates, at just over $4,414.
What’s the best car insurance company in San Diego?
Let’s be honest — trying to determine “the best” car insurance company in San Diego will be pretty subjective from driver to driver.
But one thing we do know is that cost will play a major determining factor, if not the top factor, for most.
Cheapest Car Insurance Rates by Company
Let’s begin with a look at the average overall rates of San Diego’s top providers:
According to these numbers, San Diego drivers with Progressive are paying some of the lowest rates, at just over $2,600. As for the highest rates? That distinction goes to Farmers customers, with an average rate of $4,589.23.
Remember — there is always room for fluctuation, as driver-to-driver rates will vary depending upon several factors.
Best Car Insurance for San Diego Commute Rates
Here’s an interesting fact — the average California resident drives 13,414 miles a year.
Factor in that type of mileage into their car insurance and San Diego drivers can expect to see a difference in their rates, depending on their provider.
With 4,200 square miles of land, San Diego drivers have a lot of ground to cover in their commutes. We took a look at what drivers with 10-mile daily commutes (6,000 miles annually) and 25-mile daily commutes (12,000 miles annually) are paying:
|Insurance Provider||10-mile commute/|
6000 annual mileage
12000 annual mileage
Our analysis found that no matter what provider San Diego drivers have, they’re paying more for longer commutes. The question then becomes, by how much?
- The biggest difference in rates can be seen among Nationwide customers. Drivers with longer commutes are paying about $1,000 more than their counterparts with shorter commutes.
- The smallest difference can be seen among State Farm customers, with a difference of roughly $280 between 10-mile and 25-mile daily commutes.
Best Car Insurance by Coverage Level Rates
We think it’s a no-brainer — drivers with higher coverage levels will pay higher rates, and drivers with lower coverage levels will pay lower rates. So, what does that look like for the average San Diego driver?
San Diego drivers who prefer to have the highest levels of coverage are averaging their highest rates with Nationwide, at just over $4,900.
On the flip side, San Diego drivers who prefer to have the lowest levels of coverage are paying the least amount with Progressive, at just over $2,300.
As for the provider with the lowest coverage rates across the board? That would be Progressive, which averages out at about $2,600. Farmers, on the other hand, has the highest average across all coverage levels, at $4,589.23.
Best Car Insurance Rates by Credit History Rates
Here’s another question — what do landlords, mortgage lenders, and insurance companies have in common?
They all look to your credit score as a means of determining risk.
But in the state of California, this practice is prohibited. According to the Insurance Information Institute:
“Most states generally permit using insurance scoring as a factor for determining premiums in personal lines. However…in California the use of credit is not permitted under Proposition 103 for rating auto insurance policies unless specifically allowed by the regulator.”
Best Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record
Crashes, traffic violations, and DUIs — whatever the infraction, you can pretty much guarantee that it will impact your car insurance premiums.
The experts at Investopedia say that, in the eyes of most car insurance companies, past infractions are an indicator of the type of issues drivers will have in the future. Drivers with worse records will be charged with an increased rate to compensate for the probability that the provider will need to pay out in claims on their behalf.
We looked into what San Diego drivers with clean records are paying in comparison to those who have had one speeding ticket, one accident, or one DUI:
|Insurance Provider||Clean record||With 1 Speeding Violation||With 1 Accident||With 1 DUI||Average|
In reading this table from left to right, we can see a steady increase in rates as we progress from a clean record to a DUI — that is, with the exception of one provider. Liberty Mutual drivers with one accident are paying higher rates than those who have had one DUI.
When it comes to drivers who have had one DUI, Allstate, State Farm, and Nationwide customers are paying the highest rates, all at over $6,000.
When it comes to drivers with clean records, customers with Progressive, Geico, and USAA are paying the lowest rates.
Car Insurance Factors in San Diego
Fact — in the world of car insurance rates, it’s not just about you. It’s also about your city and how well it’s doing.
In terms of San Diego and its economy:
- More than 120 San Diego companies made Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing companies in 2018, with San Diego’s Scientist.com cracking the top 10.
- Unemployment has been at record lows, but in some cases, wages have struggled to keep up with growth.
- Between June 2018 and June 2019, total nonfarm employment increased from 1,491,600 to 1,517,600, adding 25,700 jobs.
San Diego Growth & Prosperity
Let’s take a closer look at San Diego’s growth and prosperity, according to the Brookings Institution.
Experts say “growth indicators measure change in the size of a metropolitan area economy and its level of entrepreneurial activity. Growth and entrepreneurship create new opportunities for individuals and can help a metropolitan economy become more efficient.”
What kind of growth is the city of San Diego experiencing?
- San Diego’s overall rank in growth is 33rd out of 100
Jobs are up 7.1 percent (42nd of 100)
The gross metropolitan product (GMP) is up 14.3 percent (32nd of 100)
Jobs at young firms are down 12.9 percent (39th of 100)
When it comes to prosperity, experts with the Brookings Institution say:
“Prosperity captures changes in the average wealth and income produced by an economy. When a metropolitan area grows by increasing the productivity of its workers, through innovation or by upgrading workers’ skills, for example, the value of those workers’ labor rises. As the value of labor rises, so can wages. Increases in productivity and wages are what ultimately improve living standards for workers and families and the competitiveness of metropolitan economies.”
San Diego’s overall rank in prosperity is 25th out of 100
Productivity is up 6.7 percent (25th of 100)
The standard of living is up 1.8 percent (52nd of 100)
The average annual wage is up 11.1 percent (19th of 100)
Median Household Income
Knowing the median household income in San Diego allows us to do two things — gain more insight into the local economy, and determine what share of a typical resident’s income is going toward car insurance.
According to Data USA, households in San Diego had a median annual income of $76,662 in 2017. This was more than the average U.S. median annual income of $60,336. What’s more, San Diego’s median income grew from $71,481 in 2016, which is a 7.25 percent increase.
Take a look at the chart below comparing the city of San Diego (in orange) with the county, metropolitan area, state, and country:
Using the median income of $76,662 and an average car insurance premium of $4,414.64, we can conclude that 5.76 percent of the typical San Diego driver’s income is going toward car insurance. Want to know how much of your income is going toward your premium? Simply enter your data in the free Calculator Pro tool below:
Homeownership in San Diego
To own, or not to own?
In the city of San Diego, it appears for the majority the answer is not to own.
Statistics show that homeownership in San Diego was at 47.1 percent in 2017. This is up from 45.7 percent in 2016. For drivers, these figures become more intriguing because many car insurance companies offer discounted rates to homeowners, as they are viewed as being more stable.
It’s also important to note that San Diego’s percentage of homeownership is lower than the national average of 63.9 percent. The graph below compares homeownership in San Diego (in orange) to other California cities, as well as the national average:
In terms of property value, Data USA reports the median property value in San Diego grew to $600,300 from the previous year’s value of $567,400. This is significantly higher than the average median property value in the U.S., at $193,500.
Education in San Diego
The opportunities for higher education in San Diego are vast. The city is home to more than 50 higher-learning institutions, and according to City-Data.com, San Diego has three major universities — San Diego State University (SDSU), the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), and the University of San Diego (USD).
We wanted to know which universities awarded the most degrees in San Diego. Here are the top three (also illustrated in the image below):
- Ashford University with 13,260 degrees awarded
- San Diego State University with 9,079 degrees awarded
- University of California, San Diego with 8,531 degrees awarded
San Diego is also home to several community colleges:
- San Diego Community College District
- Grossmont College
- MiraCosta College
- Palomar Community College
- San Diego City College
- San Diego Mesa College
- San Diego Miramar College
- Southwestern College
Wage by Race & Ethnicity in Common Jobs
San Diego residents can learn a lot about their community by taking a closer look at what income workers are earning, particularly based upon race and ethnicity. While we could not find this data specific to San Diego, here’s what we found for the state of California:
In 2017, the highest paid race/ethnicity of workers were Asian. At an average salary of $69,782, they were paid 1.11 times more than White workers, who had the second-highest salary at $63,110.
The table below illustrates the average salaries among various races and ethnicities and across various industries:
We wanted to take this data a step further and see what percentage of these workers’ income is going toward their car insurance. We looked at the largest group of workers, categorized as “Miscellaneous Managers,” and compared their respective salaries against an average premium of $4,414.64:
|Race or Ethnicity||Average Salary||Percentage of Income Going Toward Insurance|
|Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander||$128,245.00||3.44%|
|Two or More Races||$110,079.00||4.01%|
Based on this data, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are paying the smallest percentage of their income toward car insurance, at 3.44 percent. Those paying the largest percentage are categorized as “other” at 6.78 percent, followed by Blacks at 5.79 percent.
Wage by Gender in Common Jobs
We also compared wages across gender and common jobs. Once more, this data was not available at the local level, only the state level. That being said, the average salary for Californian men in 2017 was $75,050, compared to $59,658 for women.
The table below breaks down average salaries between Californian men and women across various industries. Here, it’s obvious that males are making more than their female counterparts across the board — with the biggest difference seen among miscellaneous managers, and the smallest difference seen among cashiers.
We took the average salaries among men and women categorized as “miscellaneous managers,” and calculated what percentage of their income is going toward car insurance:
|Gender||Average Salary||Percentage of Income Going Toward Insurance|
Here, we can see that even at a lower average annual salary, women in California are paying a higher percentage of their income toward car insurance.
Poverty by Age & Gender
In spite of San Diego’s booming economy, Data USA reports that as of 2017, the percentage of people living in poverty in the city is higher than the national average.
Statistics point to 14.5 percent of the population living below the poverty line (approximately 197,000 people), compared to the national average of 13.4 percent. The demographic most prevalent in this group are females ages 18 – 24 (a 10.8 percent share), followed by men ages 18 – 24 (a 10.6 percent share). The graph below gives a greater breakdown among more age groups:
Poverty by Race &Ethnicity
As we dig even deeper into this data, we can see which racial and ethnic groups in San Diego are experiencing the most poverty.
The racial or ethnic group with the greatest number of people living below the poverty line in San Diego are Whites, at a share of 40.8 percent. Following this group are Hispanics at 31.1 percent, and Asians at 9.2 percent.
Employment by Occupations
Curious to know what are the most commonly held jobs in San Diego? According to Data USA:
- The highest number of people (52,015) are working in Management Occupations (excluding farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers)
- 22,654 people are working as Retail Sales Workers (but not as cashiers)
- 21,135 people are working as Engineers.
Driving in San Diego
Admit it — you want to know what driving in San Diego is really like. Is it bumper-to-bumper traffic? Roads that are in disrepair? And what about tolls, public transit, and parking?
While getting a rundown of all of these conditions may seem nearly impossible, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered all of the details to give you a fuller picture of what it’s like to drive in San Diego.
Roads in San Diego
Given the size of the city, it’s hard to picture San Diego without any major highways and thoroughfares. But what you may not know is whether these roads are tolled, have red-light cameras, or are in good condition. Let’s dig into each topic:
According to the Interstate Guide, California is home to 12 active routes, making up over 2,400 miles of roadway.
This, of course, begs the question — how many of those interstates are in San Diego?
The answer? Four. Interstates 5, 15, 805, and 8 can all be found in San Diego. (This, of course, does not include a larger number of State Roads that can also be found in the city).
Interstate 5 spans the West Coast, beginning in San Diego and ending in Blaine, Washington.
Interstate 805, also known as the Jacob Dekema Freeway, connects the border zone with the homes of Eastlake and Sorrento Valley.
Interstate 8 connects drivers from San Diego to Casa Grande, Arizona.
Finally, there’s Interstate 15, which spans as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico.
What probably does not come as a surprise is that there are toll roads in San Diego. They can be found on Interstate 15 and the Southbay Expressway.
- For the I-15 Express Lanes, tolls range from 50 cents to a maximum of $8. Tolls are calculated based on the number of miles you travel and the congestion in the Express Lanes at the time of entry.
- For the Southbay Expressway, tolls vary depending on distance and whether or not a FasTrak account is being used
Speaking of FasTrack, drivers can open up an account and purchase a transponder to avoid having to stop and pay. To learn more about opening an account, visit the FasTrack San Diego Region website.
Popular Road Trips and Sites
Let’s be honest — finding something fun to do in San Diego shouldn’t be difficult. After all, in a city widely known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and popular tourist destinations, the options are plentiful.
To name some fun destinations found on Only in Your State:
- Iron Mountain — one of the most popular places to hike in the county
- Balboa Park — home to more than 16 museums, as well as numerous gardens and trails
- The Geisel Library at UC San Diego — a library with unique architecture, found at UC San Diego
And, here are some more sites named on City-Data.com:
- The San Diego Zoo — one of the largest, and most famous, zoos in the world
- Sea World — the popular aquatic theme park
- Hotel del Coronado — one of the most iconic, beachfront hotels in the world
Finally, you can check out this Expedia Travel Guide video for more inspiration:
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Potholes, dips, and bumps — in just what condition are San Diego’s roads? And in what ways are drivers paying the price?
- 34 percent of the roads are in “poor” shape
- 30 percent are considered “mediocre”
- 19 percent are in “fair” condition
- 17 percent are in “good” condition
- Estimated Vehicle Operating Costs run at $694
In doing a simple internet search, we found several San Diego news outlets allude to a national study claiming San Diego’s roads are costing taxpayers thousands annually in city upkeep and repair.
San Diego Speeding and Red Light Cameras
In the city of San Diego, Red Light Cameras are a thing of the past.
In 2013, then-Mayor Bob Filner ended the city’s Red Light Photo Enforcement Program, instead emphasizing police patrols.
Vehicles in San Diego
If you’re reading through this San Diego car insurance guide, chances are good that you own a vehicle.
When it comes to vehicle ownership in San Diego, some key factors to examine include the city’s most popular cars, the city’s most stolen cars, and the city’s overall crime rates.
Most Popular Vehicles Owned
According to YourMechanic, sedans from Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet tend to be the most popular vehicles across the country. But in a Southern California city like San Diego, one might begin to picture sleek convertibles or sports cars as being the top vehicles of choice.
However, that isn’t the case.
YourMechanic’s list of the most popular cars per city reveals that in San Diego, Toyota pickups are number one.
A popular Toyota pickup truck can be found in the Tacoma.
- In terms of safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2019 Toyota Tacoma Small Pickup/Crew Cab Pickup some of its highest rankings in crashworthiness, superior rankings in front-crash prevention, and lower rankings in its child seat anchors (see the full review here).
- In terms of fuel economy, Toyota Tacomas range from 18 – 21 miles per gallon (combined city and highway), depending on its size and engine.
Number of Cars per Household
Data shows that the average number of cars found in a typical San Diego household is two. In fact, the occurrence of two cars per household is more prevalent in San Diego (at a 41.9 percent share) than it is at the national level (40.5 percent).
Households Without a Car
On the flip side, our data shows a very small percentage of San Diego households without a car. In fact, from 2015 to 2016, that percentage went down from 6.6 to 6.3 percent, with the number of vehicles per household increasing:
|Year||Percentage of Households|
|Vehicles Per Household|
Speed Traps in San Diego
If there’s one thing any driver despises, it’s a speed trap. And, if you’re like most drivers, you’d like to know where they’re located.
That’s where the National Motorists Association comes in, with Speedtrap.org. In listing California’s Top 10 Worst Speed Trap Cities, Santee — a suburb of San Diego — comes in at number one, with five listed speed traps at a 100 percent acknowledgment rate.
Vehicle Theft in San Diego
One minute it’s here, and the next, it’s gone.
Undoubtedly, there are few things scarier than realizing you’ve become a victim of vehicle theft.
The truth of the matter is, some vehicles are targeted more frequently than others. What part of town you’re in and where your car is parked can also play a significant role.
We did some digging and discovered that when it comes to vehicle theft in the state of California, the FBI ranks San Diego as the fourth-highest in the state, with 6,143 vehicles stolen. San Diego is surpassed only by Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland.
We also discovered that the San Diego County District Attorney regularly compiles lists of the top stolen vehicles. Here’s the county’s list from 2017:
|1||2000 Honda Civic||1997 Nissan PK|
|2||1998 Honda Civic||2001 Honda CRV|
|3||1997 Honda Civic||2004 Toyota Tacoma|
|4||1996 Honda Accord||2014 Jeep Wrangler|
|5||1997 Honda Accord||1999 Honda CRV|
|6||1995 Honda Accord||2017 GMC Sierra|
|1995 Nissan PK|
|7||1999 Honda Civic||2004 Chevrolet Silverado|
|8||1994 Honda Accord||1998 Honda CRV|
|9||1995 Honda Civic||1997 Jeep RNG|
|2017 GMC SAV|
|1997 Honda CRV|
|10||1996 Honda Civic||2006 Ford F250|
|1988 Toyota PK|
Speaking of the District Attorney, as of June 2019, the office announced the end of one of the biggest auto theft schemes in San Diego County history:
Safest Neighborhoods in San Diego
There’s no other way to put it — knowing that your neighborhood is considered safe is really important.
We checked in with Neighborhood Scout, which provides national Crime Risk Data in the following categories: Total Crime Risk, Violent Crime Risk, Property Crime Risk, Murder, Rape, Robbery, Assault, Burglary, Theft, and Motor Vehicle Theft.
First, we examined the group’s list of the Top 10 Safest San Deigo Neighborhoods:
Violent Crime Comparisons Per 1,000 Residents
From there, we wanted to provide a closer look at crime in San Diego. In comparing violent crime per 1,000 residents in San Diego to the rest of California, the rate in San Diego is lower at 3.72, versus 4.49.
The chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in San Diego is also lower than that of the state — one out of 268 in San Diego, versus one out of 223 in all of California.
Finally, San Diego’s Crime Index is 27 (with 100 being the safest), meaning San Diego is safer than 27 percent of all US cities.
Here’s a breakdown of the city’s annual crime rates, including those categorized as “violent” crimes and “property” crimes:
|San Diego Annual Crimes||Violent||Property||Total|
|Number of Crimes||5,287||27,397||32,684|
|Crime Rate |
(per 1,000 residents)
Bumper-to-bumper roads, standstill speeds, and constant frustration.
Newsflash — no one enjoys sitting in traffic.
A general rule of thumb is that the bigger the city, the more traffic motorists can expect. And with over 1.4 million residents, you can guarantee that San Diego drivers know their fair share of traffic headaches.
Traffic Congestion in San Diego
The INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard claims to be “the most in-depth congestion and mobility study of its kind,” studying trends in six continents, 38 countries and more than 200 cities. San Diego makes this list, at a ranking of 184. San Diego, however, is not as highly-ranked as other California cities like Los Angeles (#47), San Francisco (#65), or Sacramento (#156).
|Rank||Hours Lost in Congestion||Percent Change from |
Previous Year (+/-)
|Cost of Congestion |
According to these stats, San Diego drivers lost about 2.3 days’ worth of time stuck in traffic, at $781 per driver.
All of this “traffic talk” naturally leads us to look at the average commute times of San Diego drivers.
Data USA reports that San Diego drivers generally have a shorter commute time than the typical U.S. worker, at 22.9 minutes (compared to 25.5 minutes). We also learned that 1.94 percent of San Diego’s workforce has “super commutes” of over 90 minutes. The graph below compares San Diego commute averages (in orange) to the rest of the nation:
Finally, when it comes to whether San Diego drivers prefer to drive alone or carpool, the results are overwhelming, showing 75.4 percent of drivers ride alone.
To gain more insight into the size of San Diego’s highways, we turn to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
Three San Diego interstates have made the administration’s list of highways with the most lanes:
|San Diego Highway||Number of Lanes|
Keep in mind that the number of lanes represents the total number of lanes in both directions for multi-directional roads (for instance, northbound and southbound). These figures do not include toll plazas.
How Safe Are San Diego’s Streets and Roads?
From car crashes to pedestrian fatalities — we are now taking a closer look at just how safe San Diego’s streets and roads are.
To do this, we’re dissecting data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and breaking them down by the categories that matter the most to you.
First, we’re looking at the number of fatalities in San Diego County. The data reveals that from 2015 to 2017, the numbers are going down:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
Next, we examine fatalities in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver (BAC = .08+). In addition to seeing a significant increase from 2014 to 2015, we see the numbers remain higher in 2016 and 2017 (in spite of a slight decrease in the latter years):
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
As for single-vehicle crash fatalities, the overall data from 2013 to 2017 reveals widespread fluctuation, with fatalities going both up and down during the period:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
When it comes to fatalities in crashes that involve speeding, we see a troubling trend in San Diego county — a consistent increase from year-to-year:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
An upward trend can also be seen in the number of crash fatalities involving roadway departures, specifically between 2014 and 2016:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
With fatalities in crashes involving an intersection (or that were intersection-related), we see a decline going from 2016 to 2017:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
With passenger car occupant fatalities, we see a decrease in 2017. This comes out of two years of identical stats.
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
When it comes to pedestrian fatalities in San Diego County, we see slight decreases year-to-year from 2015 to 2017. However, a 2017 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association ranked San Diego as the 7th-highest in the country for pedestrian deaths.
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
Since 2014, pedalcyclist deaths have been on the decline in San Diego County:
|San Diego County||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017|
The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) provides us with data comparing fatalities on a variety of road types in San Diego and California in general.
Here are some basic definitions to help you navigate this data:
- An arterial road is designed for large amounts of traffic, like highways.
- Roads known as minor arterials link cities, towns, and geographical areas.
- A collector road in urban areas “collects” local traffic and bring it to arterial roads. In rural areas, collector roads serve as intra-county connections.
|Road Type||Fatalities in |
San Diego County
|Freeway and Expressway||38||459|
In all, San Diego saw 215 fatal crashes of California’s 3,304.
Finally, here’s a look at railroad crash data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation:
|Highway User Speed||Calendar Year||Highway||Highway User Type||Rail Equipment Type||Non-Suicide |
|15||2012||26TH AND COMMERCIAL||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||0|
|15||2012||16TH & COMMERCIAL ST||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||0|
|0||2012||NAPLES STREET||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||0||0|
|2012||CARLSBAD VILLAGE DR||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||1||0|
|30||2012||28TH AND COMMERCIAL||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||0|
|0||2012||CHESTERFIELD DR||Truck-trailer||Psgr Train||1||5|
|3||2012||COMMERCIAL STREET||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||1|
|10||2012||IRIS AVENUE||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||0|
|2013||MISSION AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train||1||0|
|0||2013||SORRENTO VALLEY BLVD||Automobile||Commuter||0||0|
|2013||CARLSBAD PEDESTRIAN||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||1||0|
|2013||MISSION AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train||0||1|
|0||2013||GRAPE ST||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||0|
|2013||CIVIC CENTER DRIVE||Pedestrian||Commuter||0||0|
|2014||HAWTHORNE ST||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||1||0|
|2014||GRAND AVE||Pedestrian||Freight Train||1||0|
|2014||UNIVERSITY AVENUE||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||0||1|
|0||2014||WEST PARK AVENUE||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||1||0|
|0||2015||CASSIDY ST||Automobile||Psgr Train||0||1|
|2015||MARKET ST||Pedestrian||Freight Train||1||0|
|2015||COMMERCIAL STREET||Pedestrian||Psgr Train||0||0|
|2016||LAS POSAS ROAD||Pedestrian||E||0||0|
Allstate’s America’s Best Drivers Report
If you’ve ever asked yourself whether San Diego drivers rank among the nation’s best or worst, Allstate has you covered.
Thanks to the provider’s annual “America’s Best Drivers” Report, we gain a better insight into how San Diego drivers compare to those across the United States.
Here’s the bottom line — out of 200 cities, San Diego received a 119th-place ranking in 2019, which is down three spots from its 116th place ranking in 2018.
Here are some more stats we pulled from the report:
|Allstate America's Best|
Drivers Report® 2019
|2019 Best Drivers Report|
|Average Years Between|
|2018 Best Drivers Report|
|Change from 2018||-3|
|Relative Collision Likelihood||24.70%|
Events per 1,000 Miles
Another noticeable standout? The likelihood of a San Diego driver getting into a collision is 24.7 percent.
Ridesharing in San Diego
We know that ridesharing services are surging in popularity — not only among passengers looking to save but also among drivers looking to supplement their income.
We went to RideGuru to see what rideshare services are available in San Diego:
In plugging in different destinations on the site, we found that in many cases, ridesharing services were less expensive than traditional taxis. Prices will undoubtedly vary from destination to destination, so it’s important to always compare prices
E-star Repair Shops
As if getting in a car accident wasn’t bad enough, trying to figure out where to get your vehicle repaired can also prove to be challenging.
With the Esurance E-star Direct Repair Program, San Diego drivers can view a list of shops regarded as high-quality and highly-rated.
We gathered a list of the top 10 E-star Network repair shops in San Diego:
|SE COLLISION||2175 HANCOCK STREET|
SAN DIEGO CA 92110
P: (619) 260-1167
|CARRILLO AND SONS COLLISION CENTER||4680 OLD CLIFFS ROAD|
SAN DIEGO CA 92101
P: (619) 287-7200
|ALL-AMERICAN PAINT & BODY, INC.||8315 BUCKHORN ST|
SAN DIEGO CA 92111
P: (858) 467-0700
F: (858) 541-1101
|CALIFORNIA AUTO BODY||1921 ROOSEVELT AVE|
NATIONAL CITY CA 91950
|NATIONAL CITY CA 91950|
P: (619) 477-9141
F: (619) 477-8253
|CALIBER - SAN DIEGO - MIRAMAR||6598 MIRAMAR RD|
SAN DIEGO CA 92121
|SAN DIEGO CA 92121|
P: (858) 453-3800
F: (972) 906-7164
|ELITE AUTO COLLISION REPAIR CENTER||4949 BALTIMORE DR|
LA MESA CA 91941
P: (619) 667-3788
F: (619) 667-3981
|PHILIP THEARLE'S AUTOWERKS, INC.||8809 MISSION GORGE ROAD|
SANTEE CA 92071
P: (619) 449-0111
F: (619) 562-8009
|ABX COLLISION CENTERS, INC.||11875 SORRENTO VALLEY ROAD|
SAN DIEGO CA 92121
P: (858) 486-4476
F: (858) 486-1706
|FIX AUTO CHULA VISTA||2285 MANYA ST|
SAN DIEGO CA 92154
P: (619) 429-7800
F: (619) 628-1570
|TORREY PINES COLLISION||11633 SORRENTO VALLEY ROAD|
SAN DIEGO CA 92121
P: (858) 350-0397
Weather in San Diego
It’s called “Sunny California” for a reason. And in the city of San Diego, mild temperatures and a mild climate are the norm.
In looking at the U.S. Climate Data for San Diego, we can see the results are pleasant, to say the least:
|San Diego Weather||Average|
|Annual High Temperature||69.8°F|
|Annual Low Temperature||57.5°F|
|Average Annual Precipitation - Rainfall||10.4 inches|
|Days per Year with Precipitation - Rainfall||43 days|
|Annual Hours of Sunshine||2958 hours|
|Average Annual Snowfall||N/A|
Beautiful weather aside, San Diego has had its occasional share of natural disasters. According to City-Data.com, San Diego County has seen a total of 35 natural disasters, including fires (19), floods (15), storms (9) and landslides (5).
Information like this serves as a reminder of the importance of comprehensive car insurance coverage, which addresses the damage your car may sustain in unpredictable weather events.
Public Transit in San Diego
Buses, trains, and trolleys — public transportation is alive and well in the city of San Diego. In fact,
The city’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) serves 88 million annually, or 300,000 trips each week.
We’ve compiled a table highlighting rates across various forms of MTS:
|Type of Transportation||Adult/Youth Rate||Senior/ Disabled/ Medicare|
(Routes 225, 235, 237)
(Routes 20, 50, 60, 110, 150, 870, 950)
|MTS Rapid Express/Premium|
(Routes 280, 290)
(Routes 888, 891, 892, 894)
|1 zone: $5 |
2 zones: $10
|1 zone: $2.50 |
2 zones: $5
|MTS Sorrento Valley COASTER Connection|
(Routes 972, 973, 978, 979)
Passengers who ride more frequently can also purchase passes, which range in price from $5 a day to $165 monthly. To get a complete breakdown of pass rates, click here.
For the San Diego resident looking to explore other modes of transportation, like bikes and scooters, you’ve got options.
Renters are typically charged with an initial unlocking fee, then charged by-the-minute. Both are activated by apps, which you can download in the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Parking in Metro Areas
Let’s be honest — whether you’re looking to park in the street or use a metered space, parking in metro areas can be challenging, especially in larger cities like San Diego.
Here’s what you need to know about metered parking in San Diego:
- The city manages 5,700 metered parking spaces.
- The majority of parking meters are enforced Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
- However, meters within the Hospitality Zone in Downtown or Hillcrest Commercial Zone in Hillcrest operate until 8 p.m.
- Meters can be paid by coin, credit card (Visa, Mastercard, and Discover), by mobile phone (only with meters displaying a green Parkmobile app sticker), or by Near Field Communication (NFC) payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay on certain enabled meters.
We learned that parking in San Diego can be so challenging, some are renting out spots as a way of making some extra money:
Parking garages are also an option in downtown San Diego. Head to this site to learn more about parking garages available in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Air Quality in San Diego
To the experts, it’s pretty simple — “dirty cars, dirty air.” Vehicles have a significant impact on the air quality of any city, including San Diego. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:
“Cars, trucks, and buses powered by fossil fuels are major contributors to air pollution—transportation emits more than half of nitrogen oxides in our air, and is a major source of global warming emissions in the US. Studies have linked pollutants from vehicle exhaust to adverse impacts on nearly every organ system in the body.”
So, what can be said about the air quality in San Diego? We looked at stats from the United States Environmental Protection Agency:
|Air Quality in |
San Diego - Carlsbad
|Days with Air Quality Index||365||365||366|
|Days Unhealthy for|
|Days Very Unhealthy||n/a||n/a||n/a|
These stats show that it has been rare for the city to have unhealthy days — so much so, there were none registered in 2018. However, for those who are considered sensitive, that number has fluctuated over the years.
The military is an important and significant part of the San Diego community. The San Diego Military Advisory Council reports:
Approximately 140,000 Active Duty and civilian employees of the Navy, US Marine Corps (USMC), Coast Guard, and VA together with Reserves of all branches of service worked in San Diego County during FY 2017.
San Diego drivers with ties to the military will undoubtedly want to know what their options are — namely, if they qualify for special discounts or rates.
– Veterans in San Diego
In looking at where military personnel living in San Diego have served, Data USA reports that the largest group can be tied to the Gulf War, at 29,651 people. The second-largest group can be found in the 21,852 who served in Vietnam.
Military Bases in San Diego
With the city’s large military population comes an impressive number of local bases, including:
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
- Marine Corps Case Camp Pendleton
- Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
- Naval Base Coronado
- Naval Base Point Loma
- Naval Base San Diego
- U.S. Coast Guard Station San Diego
Military Discounts by Provider
Knowing which providers offer members of San Diego’s military community car insurance discounts is key, and we want to make getting that information easy.
We’ve compiled a table below letting you know which of the city’s largest insurance providers offer a military discount:
|Insurance Provider||Military Discount Available|
USAA Availability in California
In the world of car insurance, no other company is as closely tied to the military as USAA. We wanted to compare USAA’s rates to other large providers in California.
What we found was simple — USAA not only had the lowest average rate on this list, but it is also nearly a thousand dollars below the state’s average.
|Insurance Provider||Average Rate||Higher/Lower than |
Unique City Laws
Here’s what every driver needs to know — the laws that regulate your roads vary from state to state, and sometimes, from city to city.
But where staying up-to-date on San Diego’s rules of the road may seem intimidating, you don’t have to worry — we’ve done all of the hard work for you.
In this final section of our comprehensive guide, we’re taking a look at all of the need-to-know laws unique to San Diego, and to California.
New Driving Laws
First, let’s talk about some new laws that went into effect in the state of California, effective January 2019. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, here are some changes you can expect:
- Driving Under the Influence – Ignition Interlock Device: From January 1, 2019, to January 1, 2026, this law mandates repeat offenders for driving under the influence (DUI) and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury, to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a period ranging from 12 to 48 months.
- Driving Privilege for Minors: This law repeals a juvenile court’s authority to suspend, restrict, or delay the issuance of a driver’s license of a habitual truant or ward of the state for up to one year.
For a full list of new laws, click here.
Cell Phones and Driving in San Diego
When it comes to the use of cell phones while on the road, the law is straightforward:
- California bans all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. There are exceptions for certain emergencies.
- Drivers ages 18 and up can use hands-free phones with earpieces, as long as pieces are not found in both ears.
- Texting while driving is prohibited.
San Diego Parking Laws
Where can San Diego drivers legally park? And, what’s the deal with “wheel cramping”? Here’s a rundown of some of San Diego’s most important parking laws:
- No vehicle may be parked continuously at one location on any public roadway for more than 72 hours.
- Parking is prohibited in alleys, except to actively unload goods or passengers, or if the alley has been designated as a parking zone.
- Wheel cramping (i.e., turning your wheels toward the curb when you park) is required on all grades over 3% (hills) with or without the presence of signs.
- Officials go on to say drivers should: “block your wheels diagonally against the curb by turning your wheels into the curb when facing downhill and out to the street when facing uphill.”
- Parking is prohibited in the following places:
- in an intersection or a crosswalk;
- within 15 feet of a fire station driveway or fire hydrant
- on a sidewalk or parkway;
- on the roadway side of a parked vehicle (double parking);
- in a bus stop;
- in a tunnel;
- upon a bridge (unless otherwise posted);
- in such a manner that obstructs the free use of the street;
- in a center median strip unless signs are posted permitting parking on the median; and
- in front of a public or private driveway (even your driveway)
For a complete listing of parking rules and regulations, click here.
Food Trucks in San Diego
Given the popularity of food trucks, drivers may be curious to know what kind of regulations the city has in place. Some high points of the local law include:
- Mobile Food Trucks operating in the city MUST have a permit.
- Mobile food trucks are permitted in a majority of downtown, but approval may be required in certain areas.
- Specific documents and plans MUST be submitted to the city ahead of time.
To review all of the requirements, click here.
San Diego Car Insurance FAQs
Do you still have some lingering questions about living and driving in San Diego? We figured as much — that’s why we’ve assembled this list of Frequently Asked Questions.
How Do I Get a San Diego Driver’s License?
If you are new to San Diego but coming from another California city, your state license will still be valid. You will, however, want to complete a change of address form. Depending on your circumstances, this may or may not require a visit to your local DMV. You can learn more about the process here.
If you are moving to San Diego as a new California resident, you must get a California driver’s license within ten days. According to state officials, “residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.”
If you are over 18 and getting a California license for the first time, you’ll need to follow some important steps, starting with filling out an application. See the full list of requirements here.
How Long Does It Take to Drive From Place to Place in San Diego?
While drive times will vary by time of day and location, the San Diego Tourism Authority provides these estimates from downtown:
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – 2 hours
- Coronado – 7 minutes
- Escondido – 30 minutes
- Hotel Circle – 10 minutes
- Julian – 90 minutes
- La Jolla – 20 minutes
- Mission Bay – 15 minutes
- Oceanside – 45 minutes
- San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field) – 10 minutes
- Tijuana – 30 minutes
- Ensenada – 2 hours
- Rosarito – 1 hour
Do I Need a Car in San Diego?
Whether you need a car will ultimately depend on where you live and work. But remember, public transportation is an option. You can begin to explore routes and schedules by visiting the Metropolitan Transit System website.
Is Living in San Diego Expensive?
The state of California is known for its higher-than-normal living expenses, and the same can be said of San Diego. According to Payscale.com, the cost of living in San Diego is 44 percent higher than the national average. The website also reports that San Diego’s housing expenses are 136% higher than the national average. Whether you can afford to live in San Diego will largely depend on your income, as well as other day-to-day factors such as utilities and transportation.
You’ve officially reached the end of our complete guide to car insurance in San Diego. Now is the time to begin shopping around for the best car insurance rates. Comparing is easy — just enter your zip code into our free comparison tool now.