Published On: Wed, Aug 29th, 2012

Allstate Analysis: Washingtonians Are Nation’s Most Accident-Prone Drivers

When my mom is in town, visiting from the south where local roads are 5-6 lanes wide and speed limits far exceeding DC’s citywide speed limit, she drives like a bat out of hell [whatever that means]. Back in Fayetteville, NC, there aren’t pedestrians to dodge, car doors opening to avoid or traffic lights and stop signs every 10 seconds. It’s all pedal to the metal.

When she gets on N. Capitol Street, she gets it confused with the All-American Freeway in Fayetteville, essentially a highway cutting through the camo-collared town where going 55 mph puts you in the slow lane. It is understood that in Washington, DC, you cruise 35 mph or risk a ticket from any of the plethora of speed cameras popping up all over DC like an infestation of weeds.

But a ticket is the least of your problems. Drivings in Washington, DC, get in accidents twice as frequently as motorists nationwide. Getting into collisions once every 4.7 years, Washingtonians are the worst drivers in the nation.

It’s the fifth year in a row that D.C. motorists have had the dubious honor of placing last in Allstate’s rankings, which determines how likely drivers in the nation’s 200 largest cities are to crash their vehicles.

Three other cities in the Washington region also rank among the worst in the nation — drivers in Baltimore get into accidents every 5.3 years, making them a close second to D.C. for the second consecutive year. Alexandria ranked 189th in the nation, while Arlington ranked 184th.

Drivers nationwide get into accidents about every 10 years, according to Allstate.

My mom once said slow drivers create accidents. Not sure what her rationale is, but driving slower does tend to create a false sense of security that we have time to react faster to accidents waiting to happen, hence we text, we talk on the phone, we get distracted more than when we’re racing at 70 mph on the highway.

Or maybe it’s because everyone is driving sub-40 mph that we drive closer to each other. No one tailgates at 70 mph on the highway, unless trying to get a slow driver to get out the way. But at 35 mph, the distance between two cars shrinks quickly, leaving much less time to react to a car that’s stopping in front of you.

Then again, maybe it’s because Washingtonians drive slower than the rest of the country that it’s the visitors that are causing all these accidents? Let’s just hope it won’t ever be my mom and her lead foot.

5 Safest Cities

Numbers represent average years between collisions

  • 13.8 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • 13.8 Boise, Idaho
  • 13.6 Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • 13.0 Madison, Wisconsin
  • 12.4 Lincoln, Nebraska
5 Worst Cities
  • 4.7 Washington, DC
  • 5.3 Baltimore, Maryland
  • 5.5 Providence, Rhode Island
  • 5.6 Hialeah, Florida
  • 5.6 Glendale, California
Car crash fatalities are at their lowest level nationwide since 1949, but more than 32,000 car crashes still occur every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The report doesn’t analyze what causes those accidents, but Polak said some causes are common knowledge — distracted and aggressive driving.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.