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The best and worst drivers in America

By Susan Ladika Posted : 09/15/2014

Angry driverIf you want to live in a place with the best drivers in America, check out cities in the West and Sunbelt, according to the "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report." For the second year in a row, Fort Collins, Colorado, leads the pack, with the safest drivers on the road. It's a far different story in the Northeast, where drivers rank among the worst behind the wheel.

The report looked at the frequency of car crashes among Allstate customers in the 200 largest cities in the United States. On average, a driver is involved in an accident every 10 years. But if you live in Fort Collins, you can expect to go 14.2 years between car crashes. (See all 200 cities ranked.)

On the other extreme, if you live in one of the cities at the bottom of Allstate's list, you should be prepared to get to know a local body shop. Residents in those locales file claims an average of every four to five years. Worcester, Massachusetts, ranks as the city with the most unsafe drivers in the nation, going just 4.3 years between wrecks.

Interestingly, the vast majority of crashes that take place nationwide, or 70 percent, occur at speeds of less than 35 mph, Allstate says.

The goal of the report is to "spark local and national discussion about the way cities can improve their driving records," says Michael Roche, Allstate's executive vice president of claims. Street layout, traffic signage and law enforcement vigilance all have a role to play in reducing accident rates. But much comes down to the individual driver. "Don't text, talk on your cell phone, put on makeup, eat or drink. They're all distractions that can lead to accidents," he says.

 

Best Drivers

1. Fort Collins, Colorado

Population: 152,000

Average number of years between accidents: 14.2

Last year's ranking: 1

This city at the foothills of the Rockies claimed the top spot in Allstate's best driver's report for the second year in a row, and the fourth time in the past 10 years. It also has the distinction of landing in the top 10 every year since the report first came out. Sgt. Joel Tower, who heads up the Fort Collins Police Services' traffic unit, says there's no magic formula for keeping the city's streets safe. If there was, "I'd package it and sell it." Biking and walking are popular ways to get to work, and the city has won plenty of accolades for being one of the country's top bicycle-friendly cities. Tower says good transportation engineering, law enforcement and motorist education all have a vital role to play in keeping city streets safe.

 

2. Brownsville, Texas

Population: 182,000

Average number of years between accidents: 14.2

Last year's ranking: 4

Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, Brownsville serves as a crossroads for the United States and Mexico. This Texas border city ranks right up there with Fort Collins as having the best drivers in the country, with drivers getting in an accident every 14.2 years. The city is located on the Rio Grande and serves as a major port for trade south of the border. Commute times are shorter than in many other places around the country. The city sees less precipitation than the national average, and you don't have to worry about snow days.

 

3. Boise, Idaho

Population 214,000

Average number of years between accidents: 14.0

Last year's ranking: 2

You're also not likely to be filing very many auto insurance crash claims if you live in Boise, the capital of Idaho. The city, situated on the Boise River and home to Boise State University, has won recent praise from Time magazine and from Forbes for its business success, fueled by a tech boom. It also can claim a flourishing cultural scene. The city is blessed with short average commute times and a semi-arid climate with low precipitation, which can help reduce the risk for wrecks.

 

4. Kansas City, Kansas

Population: 148,000

Average number of years between accidents: 12.9

Last year's ranking: 17

This is the only city on Allstate's best drivers list to be located in a major metro area. It's also the only city in the top 5 list to make a major move, going from 17th in last year's rankings to fourth  place today. You can forget the wheat fields in Kansas City, Kan. The city is a transportation, medical and manufacturing center located at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. Its neighbor, Kansas City, Mo., received the highest ratings of any major city on Allstate's list, landing in 12th place.

 

5. Huntsville, Alabama

Population: 186,000

Average number of years between accidents: 12.6

Last year's ranking: 7

This city in north Alabama is on the map for its role in the technology, space and defense industries, and has the best drivers in that state. On the downside, Weather.com rated it the worst in the nation for tornadoes. The city's hot, humid climate can make for severe summer thunderstorms, but the city normally gets just a couple of inches of snow each winter. Huntsville drivers have a shorter commute than the national average, and the city is less densely populated than the others on Allstate's list of best and worst drivers.

 

Worst Drivers

 

196. Providence, R.I.

Population: 178,000

Average number of years between accidents: 5.4

Last year's ranking: 192

The capital of Rhode Island is the third-largest city in New England, although it's small compared to the big boys in other parts of the nation. Founded in 1636 at the head of Narragansett Bay, Providence is one of the most densely populated cities on the worst and best drivers' list. The city receives plenty of rain and snow, which can make streets slick year- round. Providence has a much higher unemployment rate than the nation as a whole, but for the past couple of years the city has been in the midst of a major push to repave its roads.

 

197. Springfield, Massachusetts

Population: 153,000

Average number of years between accidents: 5.4

Last year's ranking: N/A (Allstate only began selling insurance in Massachusetts two years ago)

Springfield is one of three Massachusetts cities to make Allstate's worst drivers list. If you live here, you can expect to be filing a crash claim about once every five years. Like the other Northeastern cities at the bottom of the list, it's a centuries-old city, founded in 1636 along the Connecticut River. The city has faced higher unemployment than the national average, but has a diverse industrial base, including trade, transportation, education and health care. It currently has a number of revitalization programs underway or on the books. Like the other New England cities on the list, you'll have to contend with plenty of precipitation in Springfield.

 

198. Washington, D.C.

Population: 646,000

Average number of years between accidents: 5.1

Last year's ranking: 194

The nation's capital, which was founded in 1790, is ranked as the most congested in the country by the Texas A&M Traffic Institute. Washington is one of the most densely populated cities on the worst and best drivers list, and commuters face longer drive times than the national average. Add to that all the tourists who are struggling to navigate the city's streets. There's plenty of heat, humidity and rain in summer for the city on the Potomac River, and winter snows can bring Washington traffic to a grinding halt.

 

199. Boston

Population: 646,000

Average number of years between accidents: 4.4

Last year's ranking: N/A (Allstate only began selling insurance in Massachusetts two years ago)

The largest city in New England dates back to 1630, and the horse-cart paths of yesteryear have evolved into a confusing tangle of roadways. Boston is the most densely populated city on Allstate's list of best and worst drivers, and it's ranked as one of the most congested in the nation by Texas A&M's Traffic Institute. Long known as being a medical and university center, the city also is now a tech hub. The city fronts Boston Harbor, which spills into the Atlantic Ocean. There's lots of wet weather year-round, and the city can be slammed by Nor'easters, producing heavy rain and snow.

 

200. Worcester, Massachusetts

Population: 182,000

Average number of years between accidents: 4.3

Last year's ranking: N/A (Allstate only began selling insurance in Massachusetts two years ago)

New England's second-largest city is rated dead last on Allstate's best drivers list. It's another centuries-old city, permanently settled in 1713. It's a city with nine colleges and universities, and a high concentration of jobs in the education and medical arenas. The city is now in the midst of a major downtown redevelopment project, which includes a new road network in the city's center. Worcester is located about 50 miles west of Boston, but sees far more snow than coastal regions of Massachusetts. It also has plenty of rainy weather and can get walloped by Nor'easters blowing in from the coast.

 

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