Allstate report highlights most crash-prone cities

Fort Collins, Colo., drivers are some of the best on the road, while those in Washington, D.C., are among the worst, according to Allstate's seventh annual America's Best Driver's Report. The report, which ranks the 200 largest U.S. cities, uses Allstate claims data to determine which places are car crash hotspots.

The rankings
Allstate represents about 10 percent of all U.S. auto policies, according to the report.  Because Allstate doesn't serve some markets (Boston, for example), there are some gaps in the data. But the study's findings still provide "a realistic snapshot of what's happening on America's roadways," according to Allstate.
To determine its rankings, Allstate took into account its auto crash claims and calculated how often the average driver in each city could expect to get in an accident. An auto crash was defined as any collision resulting in a property damage claim. In the winning city, Fort Collins, drivers can expect to get in a collision every 14 years, while those in Washington, D.C., can expect a collision every five years. The national average is about 10 years between accidents.
According to Allstate, the top three safest cities to drive are:

  1. Fort Collins, Colo.
  2. Boise, Idaho.
  3. Lincoln, Neb.

As for the most dangerous, the top three are:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Baltimore.
  3. Glendale, Calif.

Looking at the data, a pattern emerges: Larger cities tend to have more collisions. Here are the rankings for the safest U.S. cities with populations of 1 million or more -- the "safest" big cities. Not only do none of these cities crack the top 50, but every single one has an auto collision rate that's higher than the national average.

  1.  Phoenix (55 overall).
  2. San Diego (117).
  3. San Antonio (142).
  4. Houston (155).
  5. Chicago (157).
  6. Dallas (167).
  7. New York City (171).
  8. Los Angeles (182).
  9. Philadelphia (188).

Profile of the winner
Fort Collins has led the Allstate rankings for the past two years, according to the report. In an Allstate release, Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat credited "the responsible behavior and safe driving habits of our residents." Extra-wide city streets, an intuitive grid layout, the flat topography common east of the Rocky Mountains and red-light cameras all help create a safe cityscape for drivers.
Congestion means crashes
The Texas Transportation Institute publishes its own annual report, the Urban Mobility Report, which ranks traffic congestion in U.S. cities, as measured by the amount of time motorists spend waiting in traffic. The 2010 report shares traits with the Allstate's America's Best Drivers Report. In fact, the most congested metro areas in the Texas Transportation Institute's report (Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco) rank poorly in the Allstate report.
Although far from a perfect correlation, the common thread between traffic congestion and safety ratings is population density. As people and vehicles become more closely packed together, the potential for auto accidents goes up. Auto insurance companies take into account the likelihood that you'll get into an accident when calculating your rate. And if you live in an area where accidents are common, you'll probably see a higher premium. So, if you're thinking of making the move to larger city, make sure the larger premiums fit into your budget.

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