If you’re looking to move where the drivers are more cautious than the norm, better consider a small town. That’s the conclusion one could glean from this year’s rankings of the nation’s safest driving cities as compiled by the Allstate Insurance Company in Northbrook, Ill.
Based on property damage claims registered over a two-year period (from January 2010 to December 2011) the relatively sleepy town of Fort Collins, Colo., leads the list with motorists that are 28.2 percent less likely to cause a collision than the national average. Drivers there also typically enjoy a leisurely 13.9 years between accidents.
Other cities landing on the top 10 list of safest driving locales include: Boise, Idaho; Sioux Falls, N.D.; Brownville, Texas; Madison, Wis.; Reno, Nev., Huntsville, Ala.; Visalia, Calif.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Eugene, Oregon. The most crowded of these burgs is the university town of Madison, where its 240,323 residents place it 82nd on the list of largest U.S. cities, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau based on 2012 figures.
As one might expect, areas suffering the most accident-prone motorists include many of the nation’s most densely populated metropolitan areas, with Washington D.C. leading the pack in that regard. Residents of the nation’s capitol are 109.3 percent more likely to get in accidents than the general population, and go a mere 4.8 years between wrecks.
The remainder of the 10 areas having the worst drivers in the country include: Baltimore, Md.; Providence, R.I.; Hialeah, Fla.; Glendale, Calif.; Philadelphia, Penn.; Alexandria, Va.; Miami, Fla.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Arlington, Va. Surprisingly, car-clogged Los Angeles ranked only 14th among the cities with the most accident-prone motorists, with New York City and Chicago – large cities with efficient public transportation systems – ranked much farther down the list.
Among the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas – those having a million or more residents – Phoenix, Ariz., was deemed the safest, with motorists just 2.0 percent more likely than average to pilot their way into a crash. Phoenicians typically spend an average 9.8 years between collisions. Other safer big cities include San Diego, San Antonio, Chicago and Houston.
Clearly, driving carefully in a large city can be more difficult than in a sparsely populated area, but each affords its own set of challenges. For example, auto-safety experts suggest those traveling to a big city heed the following tips:
• Allow plenty of time to reach your destination – backups, traffic signals, pedestrians and the inevitable construction routes and detours are almost certain to adversely affect travel times. Expect to stop or slow down for pedestrians, emergency vehicles, delivery trucks, parking cars, taxicabs and city buses.
• Be alert for changing traffic conditions – listen to traffic reports on the radio or use a navigation system that displays traffic information and explore alternate routes to minimize delays.
• Plot a course ahead of time on a map or use a GPS to find the most efficient way to get to a destination; if lost, safely pull over and ask for directions or if you feel threatened, call for assistance.
Meanwhile, those headed into rural areas should be especially careful to follow these guidelines:
• Mind the speed limit; fight the urge to unduly open the throttle and drive less safely on open roads, particularly if it’s an unfamiliar area.
• Keep an eye out for pedestrians who might cross an otherwise open road without the benefit of marked crosswalks.
• Maintain a safe distance from the traffic ahead, especially from large trucks which may have limited visibility; make sure there’s ample space and opportunity to pass a truck, particularly on a two-lane road.