By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
A study by Allstate found that drivers in Washington D.C. get into accidents with a greater frequency than any other U.S. city.
Living in Washington D.C., I do whatever it takes to avoid driving. Even when Google Maps tries to convince me that it will take half the time to drive somewhere as opposed to walking or taking the Metro, I rarely bite.
And when there are places that are unreachable by foot or transit, driving is stressful and frustrating and can take twice the time that it "should" according to Google.
If you live in the District of Columbia it comes as no surprise that the city has the nation's worst drivers. But now there's proof.
A study by Allstate found that D.C. is home to the worst drivers in the U.S. The insurance company came to this conclusion by identifying the collision frequency of city residents in 193 of the largest U.S. cities. And in Washington D.C., the average driver gets into an automobile accident once every 4.8 years. To put that into perspective, the national average is once every 10 years and the city with the nation's best drivers, Fort Collins, Colo. has an accident frequency of once every 14 years.
"Human behavior is the biggest cause of accidents. It is vital for us to educate American drivers about safe driving behaviors they can demonstrate on the road that will help make our roadways safer," said Mike Roche, executive vice president, Allstate's Claim Organization.
Human behavior is certainly a major factor in accidents: everything from distracted driving to road rage. However, when you live in a place, like D.C., that in many way is built more for people than for cars, high volumes of vehicle traffic jam up roads and frustrate drivers. A trip that should take 20 minutes ends up taking an hour.
Individually, residents can relieve congestion by taking themselves off the road by living near where they work or living near a transit stop that will get them there.
But cities around the world are also working on innovative ways to relive congestion in the city.
The blog This Big City has a great series of articles exploring the issue of urban congestion. The articles explore:
- Congestion pricing - commuters pay to drive in the busiest places, at the busiest times
- Mileage taxes - a tax based on how many miles you drive
- Road trains - linked by a wireless sensor, a group of cars is pulled by a professional driver at the front -- think drafting bicyclists
- Improving transit infrastructure
Would these solutions help D.C. lose its status as the nation's worst drivers by relieving the congestion that drives its residents mad (and into each other)? There's no easy answer, but it certainly wouldn't make things any worse.
Sep 1, 2011
I would think more of the study if it had more than one insurance company's data. Allstate did not even include Toronto, Canada. It had Vancouver, BC ....and the whole province of Ontario. Baaa haaa haaaa! That's Allstate!
Tips to Blend in with DC drivers: 1. Never indicate - this will give away your next move. A real DC driver never uses indicators. 2. Under no circumstance should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, this space will be filled by at least 2 taxis, a bus and a BMW, putting you in an even more dangerous situation. 3. The faster you drive through a red light, the smaller the chance you have of getting hit. 4. Never, ever come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and it will only result in you being rear-ended. 5. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to check if the people entering the highway are awake. 6. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as a guideline. They are especially not applicable in DC during rush hour. That's why it's called 'rush hour...' 7. Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn't mean that a DC driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot. 8. Learn to swerve abruptly. DC is the home of the high-speed slalom driving thanks to the government, which puts potholes in key locations to test drivers' reflexes and keeps them on their toes. 9. On average, at least three cars can still go through an intersection after the light has turned red. It's people not adhering to this basic principle that causes the big traffic jams during rush hour. I hope this was helpful
I'm seeing a lot of ranting and blaming one political party or another etc. Washington DC was planned 220 years ago in 1791 (14 years before the first automobile of any kind in the US, and almost 100 before the 4 stroke engine was designed,) based on the layout of Paris. This design is still greatly unchanged. There are up to 6 way intersections all over, using traffic circles, but not "modern" traffic circles. These old traffic circles now have traffic lights where each street meets the circle. There are no freeway type roads through DC. A major part of the accident rates there can be blamed directly on the road system, and most of the rest on driver stress level and distraction due to the road system. Of course you get gridlock when you have 6 intersections and traffic signals on a multi-lane circular road only around 100 ft in diameter.
All the foregoing comments are valid points. Having been a 20 year commuter by car from 1972 to 1992 from the suburbs near Andrews AFB to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, I can attest to the worsening driving conditions in and around the DC metro area. Retired since 1992 and still living in the suburbs, I rarely venture into the District for anything because of the high risk of driving inside the Beltway. The biggest problem seems to be the inattention of drivers and the attitude that nothing is illegal as long as you don't get caught. It is common to see drivers in narrow community streets driving 35 MPH while texting or talking on the cell. It isn't any wonder that people here just take the occasional "accident" for granted as part of living in the area. As long as the "car is king culture" remains the dominant force in the area, we can all expect to see a continuation of the deterioration of the driving conditions in and around DC. Oh, and this is also why we have some of the highest auto insurance rates in the US. We are all paying for this Wild West driving mentality.
You think? Of course, makes sense everything else is gridlock here. Drivers are not just bad, but also belligerent.
The overall ratio of politics-based people. I've long-since stopped expecting, or even hoping for even baseline 'average' levels of working intelligence or common-sense from them. Two things which tend to assist in a level of quality in driving experience.
The DC area has a partial excuse: The majority of drivers living in and around the Beltway are from the 50 states and not from the DC area. That means that there are 50 different driving cultures involved. For example, the first snowflake each fall causes instantaneous traffic congestion. However, driving conditions are worse in other areas. For example, both Florida and Massachusetts drivers have to be very extremely cautious of out-of-state drivers who have the following driving habits: They tend to insist on slowing for yellow lights and stopping for red lights. They also make full stops at stop signs and insist on signaling before turning or changing lanes. And worst of all, out-of-state drivers will only exceed speed limits by a mere 15 or 20 miles per hour.
One of the reasons is that when it was built it was designed with Paris as an inspiration with long roads and traffic circles (roundabouts) to ease the flow of traffic. Course in DC they put up TRAFFIC LIGHTS at all of these and that just slows things down. Then with High Density housing - mainly built in the 1930s and 1940s - then the BIG boom of building in the 1960s due to the Johnson expansion of tens of thousands of Government Jobs created due to the social programs that were created - and now needing to be run - plus the transfer of military work traditionally done by people IN the military to civilian (to show that the size of the military is down - but only counting those in uniform) you now had a mix of people who lived the 1950s house / lot dream working in a HIGHLY concentrated Federal zone where there is NO HOUSING at all - and when 500,000 people have to get to work in DC each day there is either the subway or car. There IS no other way. They would have to widen every road - eliminate traffic lights - and build LOADS of more parking structures - or build 200,000 - to 500,000 more apartments in the city that would rent at 600 to 900 a month in order to get people to give up their yard, dogs, cats, pets and all their outdoor activities that can be done in their existing neighborhoods order to wipe out the traffic problems. I do not see the Federal Government willing to build pretty, secure, 30 to 50 story high end apt buildings that will NEVER break even and always require appropriated money in order to achieve this "social" living goal - but then, it IS DC where reality is seldom an obstacle to doing things!
The study provides no explanation for why DC is the worst. This is entirely understandable for 1 done by an insurance company & no criticism is intended. The piece offers "built more for people than for cars" & inadequate streets for the volume of traffic. Assuming that's true, isn't that also true for other East Coast cities? Politicians themselves are a tiny fraction of the total population but I wonder how many other jobs turn over more frequently, as a consequence of the election cycle, than in other cities. 1 would think there's a correlation between unfamiliarity with an area & the accident rate.
The DC area's bad drivers aren't news for anyone who has half a brain - sadly, most of the drivers in this area don't have half a brain, know it and don't care. Vain and incompetent drivers with too many cell phones, too many children not in seat-belts, too busy applying make-up, and too many over-sized cars designed to overcompensate for small, uh, egos.
To be a truly democratic member of a democratic society each member must be responsible for their own thoughts, feelings & actions. It's no good doing what you like regardless of others, If you want a cohesive society that is reading the same book and on the same page. We are still an adolescent society that desperately needs to mature and become adult.
Traffic lights are a total waste of resources . They are expensive to instal, & maintain & don't do the job they were intended for. Roundabouts keep the traffic moving and the waste of fuel due to idling traffic waiting for the lights to change is seriously reduced.
Each individual must be responsible for their own thoughts, feelings and actions. That's what it takes. It's that simple
There is no respect for another's freedom to choose. More proof that Americans don't know what Democracy is.
The nanny state mentality encouraged and supported by poor government policy has created an American society where personal responsibility is not expected. What used to an accident is now automatically some one else???s fault. A big government mandated label required on a hot cup of coffee is there because a woman was clumsy enough to spill coffee on her self while driving and sued because no one had warned her hot coffee could burn her. Just this month the EEOC, a federal government agency, sued Old Dominion Freight line because it took a drunk driver off the road in compliance with DOT regulation, another government agency. Apparently the EEOC feels a drunk has a right to be behind the wheel of a big truck, in spite of DOT regulations. Where is the personal responsibility when a government agency supports putting a dangerous man behind the wheel of a 40 ton truck?