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World & Nation

Safest-driving cities: Sioux Falls tops list; D.C. is at bottom

WASHINGTON — If you’ve driven in the nation’s capital, you already know this: It’s full of bad drivers. 

A new report from Allstate Insurance Co. confirms it, putting the District of Columbia at the bottom of the list of the safest-driving cities, with the average motorist involved in a crash every 4.7 years.  Nationally, the average driver gets into a collision every 10 years.

Safest city: Sioux Falls, S.D., where the average driver has a collision every 13.8 years.

Next are Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colo.; Madison, Wis.; and Lincoln, Neb., according to the report.  

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Car-loving Los Angeles, a daunting a place to drive, ranked No. 182 on the list of 200 cities, with the average driver getting into a collision every 6.7 years. 

That was better than, say, Philadelphia, No. 190, but worse than New York City, ranked No. 176. Chicago was 152. 

Other California cities and their rankings: Riverside, 110; San Diego, 124; Long Beach, 137; Anaheim, 143; Pasadena, 160; Torrance, 174; and Glendale, 191.

As for Washington, John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, told the Los Angeles Times that the District of Columbia has a large number of visitors, many of whom are unfamiliar with the roads. The city also has another dubious distinction, he says: the nation’s worst traffic congestion.

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“There is a nexus between traffic congestion and traffic crashes,’’ he said. “The average commute time here is 25.8 minutes, and a lot of mischief and traffic mishaps can occur in that time span. All that congestion can trigger stress and frustration behind the wheel, and drivers tend to speed and become more prone to road rage.”

“D.C. is also a polyglot city, the city of a thousand tongues and a thousand driving templates, with all the embassies and consulates here.  All those drivers learned to drive in other cultures, and they still have those driving templates in their heads,’’ he added.

Another factor: the district’s design, with its traffic circles, can be confusing to drivers, he said.

The report is based on Allstate’s review of two years of claims filed with the company for collisions resulting in property damage.  Allstate represents about 10% of U.S. auto policies. 

The report did not get into the causes of collision, but it was released as the U.S. Department of Transportation, which calls distracted driving a “persistent and growing epidemic,’’ began offering $17.5 million to states that crack down on distracted driving, including prohibiting texting while driving and allowing police to pull over violators solely for distracted driving.

Allstate said its report is designed to spur discussion about safe driving and is not used to determine insurance rates.

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richard.simon@latimes.com


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