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.