Glendale drivers considered among worst in the country, but city disagrees

A file photo from 2015 shows a rollover crash near the intersection of New York Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
A file photo from 2015 shows a rollover crash near the intersection of New York Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
(Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

For the 12th year in a row, Allstate Insurance has placed Glendale near the bottom of its list of U.S. cities with the safest drivers.

The insurance company released its list this week as part of its Best Drivers report, which groups 200 of the largest cities in the U.S. and ranks them according to how likely drivers who are Allstate customers get into a traffic collision and how many years go by before getting into another one.

Glendale drivers are considered 83% more likely than the national average to get into a collision.

The company represents nearly 10% of all motorists in the country. Collisions are counted regardless of severity, from a minor fender-bender to a major crash.

The 2017 rankings have Glendale at 195, the same spot it held last year, with drivers typically getting into a collision every 5.5 years. Having consistently ranked low in Allstate’s report since 2005, the highest Glendale has ever been ranked is 190.

Kansas City, Kan., has the best drivers, according to the report, with residents getting into a collision every 14.9 years. They are also 32.8% less likely than the national average to get into a collision in the first place.

Boston, Mass., came in dead last as the worst city. There, drivers get into collisions every 3.6 years and are 179.6% more likely than the national average to get into a collision.

As for the California city that has the safest drivers, that distinction goes to Oxnard, which ranked 70. According to Allstate, drivers in the Ventura County city go 9.1 years before getting into another collision and are 9.5% more likely than the national average to get into a collision.

Back in Glendale, city spokesman Tom Lorenz said the data used to rank the cities wasn’t scientific and is only based on a narrow sample pool.

Lorenz also called it a “very bad optic” because it only takes the top 200 cities in the United States and leaves out hundreds of similar municipalities.

“If we’re on a list of best drivers then we have the best drivers — everybody gets it backwards,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the world of alternative facts, we don’t have all the facts when we look at the Allstate report.”

Chris Cochran, a spokesman with the California Office of Traffic Safety, agreed with Lorenz and said the study was as “unscientific as you can get” when basing its figures only on insurance claims rather than actual crash reports.

“Just claims. Any size claim,” he said. “Claims for anything, even backing into your garage door.”

For more scientific figures, the traffic safety office has its own set of vehicle-collision rankings. However, the most recent figures are from 2014.

Cochran said its numbers are not more up to date because the department relies on statistics from other agencies including the California Highway Patrol, the state Department of Justice and the state Department of Transportation.

Those figures are then analyzed, with the Office of Traffic Safety taking the time to figure out why a statistic changed from one year to the next or why a certain collision occurred.

In the 2014 figures, Glendale is grouped with 56 other cities that have a population between 100,001 and 250,000 people.

Cochran said the city has done consistently well in the Office of Traffic Safety’s rankings.

For overall collisions, the city ranked 49 out of 57, which is good for the state’s report because it’s the opposite of the Allstate report — the higher a city ranks on the list, the worse its drivers.

With collisions that result in a fatality or injury, the city ranked 35, and for ones where alcohol is involved, Glendale came in at 51.

One area where Glendale ranks high with the traffic safety office is pedestrian-related collisions — 16 out of 57.

“Glendale is pretty bad at pedestrians, always has been,” Cochran said.

Split into additional categories, the city came in at 47 for collisions involving pedestrians younger than 15, but it is first for those involving pedestrians over the age of 65.

Twitter: @Andy_Truc