Not a Great Neighbor: Best and Worst Drivers in the US


Most people have seen the ads for car insurance companies, some featuring sleek reptiles, a man pretending to be an attractive girl out for a run, or a car destroyed by a falling pile of shopping carts. All of these companies want one thing: to convince you that in their hands are the best place to be after an accident. Even though a vigilant driver can often avoid an accident, sometimes local residents aren’t quite as careful. So, what city has the best drivers and what city has the not-so good drivers? Keep reading to find out.

It should come as a small surprise—well, maybe not to those who live there—that according to 425 Motor Sports, Washington, D.C. ranks as the most accident-prone city in America, with an average of only 4.8 years between accidents and—get this—a nearly 110% rate of getting into another accident! Why on earth…? It isn’t because of their location (though some residents of neighboring states may be a contributing factor), or the fact that foreign representatives and heads of state can declare immediate diplomatic immunity, even if the accident was his or her fault (not fair!). No, the real reason is the nightmarish highway surrounding D.C., known as The Beltway. Driving on this highway nearly guarantees an accident, with drivers often going 10+ miles above the speed limit, refusing to use turn signals, and “rubbernecking” car accidents (in which the driver cranes his or her neck to watch the horrific pileup and cluck sympathetically at the poor people involved). D.C. drivers pay a little over $2100 per year in insurance premiums, making their auto insurance one of the most expensive in the nation. Ouch!

By contrast, the safest drivers in America are the residents of Fort Collins, Colorado, who have an average of over 14 years between accidents and nearly 29% percent less likely to get into an accident overall, according to a recent study by a leading insurance company. Other cities rounding out the top ten include Boise, Idaho, with 13.4 years between accidents, Reno, Nevada, with twelve years between accidents, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, with 11.9 years between accidents. For larger cities with populations of over a million, Phoenix, Arizona, tops the list, with only a decade between collisions and only one percent more likely to get into an accident in the first place. (Note that for research purposes, an accident is “any collision resulting in a property damage claim.”) Not surprisingly, Colorado and Arizona drivers pay a little over $1,000 for car insurance premiums, while drivers in Tennessee pay less than $1,000.

Car accidents, no matter where you live, are unavoidable. How can a driver prepare for one and reduce his or her risk of injury in a car accident?

1. Wear your seatbelt. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but it can save a life in an accident by preventing your body from flying around or out of the vehicle. Pets, children and objects in the car can also become flying missiles, potentially causing severe injury to themselves or another person or pet in the car. Keep pets strapped in, in carriers or on the seat using special harnesses. As for the groceries, tuck them into the backseat, if possible.

2. Minimize distractions. In today’s age when people appear to have their cellphones permanently glued to their hands, texting and talking on the phone while driving can be fatal. Same goes with applying makeup, adjusting the dial on the radio and driving on too little sleep. Grab some coffee and let the phone chime on, live with the song on the radio for a minute. Songs end in a few minutes. So can a life if you’re careless behind the wheel.

3. Leave enough distance between you and other drivers. Most drivers tend to be annoyed by someone tailgating; even more so when he or she is being honked at by someone in too much of a hurry. So what if the car in front is not moving as fast? They may see or know something not obvious to the others around them.

4. Weather conditions. Rain, snow, sleet and hail may be part of a usual mailman’s rounds, but any form of driving that impedes vision or traction—including fog—is something to slow down and to expect the unexpected, as the clichéd saying goes.

Accidents happen: A slick patch of ice from last night’s storm, a drunk driver smashes into an innocent driver at an intersection, brakes in need of repair, a cat running in the street and a frantic jerk of the wheel to avoid hitting it; these things happen. Keeping a car in good repair, getting enough rest, not riding on someone’s bumper and wearing that drag of a seatbelt can help to prevent injury, but being aware of the surrounding area and knowing how the locals drive can greatly reduce those auto insurance premiums from jumping based on could-have-been-avoided car accident.

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