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Allstate: D.C. drivers are worst in U.S.

You think the guy in the rear-view mirror is about to rear-end you? You think the lady in the next lane is about to whack you from the side? You think that clown is going to run the stop sign and T-bone you?

If you drive in Washington, there's a better-than-average chance that you're right. In fact, the chance is 95.5 percent better than average, according to a new report from Allstate Insurance, which collects crash data from across the nation. Washington ranks dead last, behind 192 other cities.

The good news is that Washington was at the bottom of the list last year, and it's been near the worst for many years, so those who have escaped being in a collision probably are the best drivers in the country. The bad news is that Washington drivers get into crashes an average of every 5.1 years, so your number may be up. By contrast, the best drivers in the land are in Fort Collins, Colo., where collisions are 31.2 percent less frequent than the national average with an average of 14.5 years in between.

If fear of collision causes you to flee the streets of the District, don't bother going to Baltimore. It ranks just above Washington at the bottom of the list.

--Ashley Halsey III

By Ashley Halsey III  | September 3, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories:  District, Driving, Traffic Safety  | Tags:  Insurance  
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Would someone provide a link so that we can see for ourselves the report? I tried searching around for it, but to no avail. Thanks.

Posted by: informedtraveller | September 3, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

This ranking is racist. Fart Collins is one of the whitest cities on the planet.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 3, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Fort Collins is the home of the New Belgium brewery (makers of Fat Tire) and they give out free samples at the bar. Perhaps people drive carefully because they've been availing themselves of this glorious service.

Anyway, people in DC would rather wreck a $100,000 Mercedes than be polite.

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 3, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

And the DC's motoring public wonders why area cyclists do facepalms anytime th are monolithically labeled reckless scofflaws

Posted by: supersmax | September 3, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute. Are you telling me that drivers in Los Angeles have a better driving record than the DC area? I would like to know just where Allstate is getting their numbers.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | September 3, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I was just out in SoCal last week, driving on the freeways for the first time in 20 years, and I have to say I felt safer than driving the beltway. And this was at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon at the 5 and 605....

Posted by: ValleyCaps | September 3, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Three thoughts: one, ever tried driving around Georgetown, not just M and Wisconsin, but up in the neighborhood? It's like holding a Grand Prix with delivery trucks in an alley.

Two, it does not help that none of the authorities in the area seem to believe in enforcing tailgating laws until after an accident.

And three, nowhere else on the planet generates and exhibits a sense of entitlement like DC. Nowhere.

Posted by: szwheelock | September 3, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

it's because motorists in d.c. are from elsewhere....heh

Posted by: earthling | September 3, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

If you think this is bad - Look up the DC AIDS rate. It was so bad they had to combine it with MD and VA in order to show a lower percentage of total population. It was near the worst in USA.

Welcome aboard .

Posted by: 33jayave | September 3, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I just moved here from Miami, also near the bottom of the Allstate list. But without a doubt, Washington DC's traffic is way worse than Miami. Miami's poor traffic may be inflated by elderly motorists, but I can't think of why Washington DC's traffic is so bad. No one lets you in, seemingly no speed limits, no unoccupied space in between cars, cars willing to sit in the middle of the intersection while the traffic light turns red and traffic is backed up.

A lot of it deals with the constricted space in DC. Very few left turning lanes, right turning lanes, left traffic signals, very few lanes in general. In a two lane road, the right lane can be occupied by a person wanting to park next to a building and the left lane will be occupied by someone wanting to make a left turn. Insane. I will gladly take Miami's driving wackos over the plentiful Washington DC driving wackos ANY DAY.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 3, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

A lot of it deals with constricted space, but more of it deals with with so many 'I'm more important than you, and I'm in a hurry' people on their way to pay off another congressman or cut another shady deal.

Posted by: 21stCenturyCaveman | September 4, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Could this be related to the statistic that more than 40% of Washington Metro-area residents are foreign-born? Add that to the weak requirements for driver's ed and getting a license, and there you go. It's one thing to recognize stop signs, but if English is not your language, how do you figure out things like "No right turn 6:00 AM - 9:00 AM Mon-Fri"?

As for those who were born and raised here - I agree with szwheelock, the sense of entitlement and self-importance is a big contributor to all the "me first and screw everyone else" driving around here.

Posted by: Lila1 | September 4, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Someone manages to sneak in another anti-immigration rant into a blog on traffic. Any problem we have must come from those dang foreigners! People have been saying things jlike that for over 100 years. 40% of DC residents are foreign-born? B.S. Pure b.s. Don't rely on e-mail messages for your status. Do some research.

Posted by: Sutter | September 4, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

The last three cars I had were totaled after being hit by someone else. I don't even bother much with preventative maintenance any more. Why spend money taking care of it? I'm going to get hit.

Advice while driving in DC. If you see someone with DC temporary tags, keep at least 100 feet away. There are several reasons they may have those tags, and none of them are good for you.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 4, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I believe this.

Here's one example. I reverse-commute on Connecticut Ave NW every weekday. That means that I'm using the two lanes, rather than the four lanes on the part of Conn Ave that has reversible lanes. I make a left turn at a light that has a left directional light. Usually, several cars are lined up waiting for the green let turn arrow. At least once a week, a car will use the lane on my left -- which is for cars going in the OPPOSITE direction -- to jump those of us who are in the proper lane, patiently waiting for the light. The queue jumper will just barrel past the patient drivers and make a hard left turn. I can't tell how many close calls I've seen because of this stupid behavior.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | September 4, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Most people driving around DC are not from here and are often ignorant of exactly where they are going or what the traffic patterns are, recipe for some pretty bad driving.

And I would say the stretch of 95 from Lauderdale to Miami contains the most dangerous drivers in the country, much worse than Beltway

Posted by: divi3 | September 4, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Divi3, you're right in saying there are dangerous drivers on that stretch of 95. But many times, there's enough space on the roadways to execute defensive driving techniques. Here in DC, if I see someone who is approaching me and looks like he's going to hit me, I can't do anything about it.
Miami is definitely worst for STAGED accidents. People brake too quickly so that they can get rear ended and sue the car behind them for lots of money. Chances to encounter that are pretty rare, but even with this I feel safer there.
And I refuse to believe most of the bad drivers are from other states. I'm pretty sure most bad drivers here are DCites who wouldn't know any better.

Posted by: jiji1 | September 4, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

No left turn lane is the problem.

Posted by: inspired1 | September 4, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I've been driving in Washington since 1966. Yes that's right. I'm surprised I'm still alive. So here's the deal--The fact that Wash has the worst drivers was no surprise to me, this is not a new thing folks. Specifically, the street/circle patterns are a mess. Nothing personal, but thanks alot L'Enfant, we attempt to drive in a city that was designed for horse and buggys for God's sake. Then there's the diplomats, who can do whatever. My Dad taught me to stay way back from them. And yes there are many driver's from other countries, I am pro-immigration, that fact has nothing to do with immigration. It's Washington; we have embassies and stuff here. Don't forget the tourists,run for cover. That's the way it is here, that's the way it's been since I can remember. If you live in the Wash metro area, get used to it. And then there's what I call the "death ramp" onto 50 in N Arl....oh never mind, there's not anough time or space

Posted by: arlingtonian6 | September 4, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

we saved 400/year switching from allstate. now I know why.

Posted by: mkoryd | September 4, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

jiji1 - Only a political partisan that happens to be a moron would inject politics into a report like this. you win as bonehead of the day!

Posted by: madmike272 | September 4, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for updating the original post with a link to the report. This puts it into better perspective and raises some questions too. Understanding the limitations of data availability, it should be pointed out that these data represent only people with All State insurance and within that group, only those making claims on their insurance.

Also, although the report mentions that the researchers did some weighting, it is not clear HOW they weighted.

It seems that the rankings could also be explained by the fact that a larger percentage of people in the DC area have All State insurance, or that All State has lower standards for those to whom it issues insurance.

Further, the fact that (as quoted in the report) "Allstate's auto policies represent about 11 percent of all U.S. auto policies" is irrelevant without knowing whether that number is an average of all 50 states.

Even assuming that All State insurance is equally distributed in every state at 11% (an unlikely assumption), then it STILL is only representing at best slightly more than 1 out of 10 insured drivers. And yet Allstate claims this is "realistic"!

It does not seem to me that the All State report gives us any accurate data. It does not seem that different than just asking one's acquaintances where they think drivers are better.

Posted by: informedtraveller | September 4, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

This report does NOT say that DC drivers are the worst, but that more collisions per capita happen in DC than anywhere else. What's the difference? DC is full of drivers from MD and VA. In fact, a traffic survey of major commuter thoroughfares in the city will probably find that MOST drivers don't have DC plates. And as any longtime metro area resident knows, it's VA drivers who cause the most trouble, not DC or MD drivers.

I've been rear-ended at stoplights twice in 10 years, both times by Virginia drivers: one who was busy gabbing on her cell phone, and one who was drunk.

DC may be an accident-happy place, but don't blame DC residents without proof that we're the ones causing the trouble.

Posted by: gpark | September 4, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Arlington and Alexandria are also within the bottom 20, so it's safe to say the ranking is valid region-wide (there are no MD cities in the list other than Baltimore).

And, based on the wording of the article, it isn't clear whether it's counting accidents in the city, or accidents anywhere by drivers who have policies & live in the city. When I read "The report ranks America's 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency to identify which cities have the safest drivers," I take that to mean it counts drivers who live in the city, regardless of where they drive - not out-of-state drivers who have an accident in DC.

And if this survey covers 11% of the ~200 million licensed drivers in the US, that's a pretty valid dataset. Even if AllState covered half that percentage in DC (probably a low estimate), 5% of 600,000 is on the order of 30,000 people. Most political polls get by with surveys of just hundreds of people, or low thousands, and that's usually deemed to be good enough for 3-4% error.

For example:
1288 people:

780 people:

Posted by: Chris737 | September 4, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

And while we're talking statistics, let's go back to the AIDS comment. It's silly to compare DC to other states when demographics are so different. Take a look at the rates by Metro areas:

"In 2008, the highest rates of new AIDS diagnoses were in Miami (42.8 per 100,000 people), Baton Rouge (40), New Orleans (32.4) and Baltimore (32.3)."

At ~25 per 100,000, DC's in a tie with NYC, Atlanta, San Juan, Jacksonville, Columbia, and Jackson.

So, have fun, kids.

Posted by: Chris737 | September 4, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I noted drivers in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico as the worst in the USA...and my comment was deleted. Not racist in any way...why was it deleted??? Go figure!!!

Posted by: DecafDrinker | September 4, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: cadynhenry04 | September 5, 2010 2:09 AM | Report abuse

I believe the statistics are flawed, I noticed that although the accidents happen in DC, the tags of the cars involved are from other justifications.

Posted by: d5haqwt | September 5, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Chris737, you make some good points, but I think it's about sampling more than numbers. I think that political polls are more likely to have better sampling (closer to random) than this study which has a very selective (and thus less likely to be generalizable) sample.

Posted by: informedtraveller | September 5, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Not sure what purpose these data serve other than to justify rate increases for DC area drivers. How about a little more analysis? For example, why has Hampton VA gone from being ranked the 110 safest city for driving in 2005 to being ranked 40 in 2009?

I would rather rely on safety stats from NHTSA and the state highway safety offices to make my judgments about road safety. This "study" is interesting, but--quite possibly--DC's last place finish may not be owed (entirely) to poor driving skill.

I'm not an Allstate customer, but this logic applies to any insured driver...
If I drive a new car in the DC area, if I'm already paying a lot for insurance, and if I have a low deductible... then I am a lot more likely to report a crash claim to my insurance company. The aggregate effect of this is that people pay more for insurance and they are more likely to make claims because they pay more for insurance.

I think there are a lot of Allstate customers in Cleveland and Chattanooga who drive 1998 Accords with either liability insurance only, or cheap policies with high deductibles. I won't report a minor collision to Allstate under those conditions, would you?

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | September 5, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Miami has far worse drivers than in DC. I can attest to that because I am from there, and I was just there these past two weeks, and nothing has changed. But DC does have some pretty bad drivers, especially the ones that hog up the far left lane and don't move to the right for faster vehicles.

Posted by: Chazo | September 5, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

No wonder my insurance rates were cut in half when I moved away from the DC area!!

Posted by: gfhoward258 | September 5, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I believe that there is a conspiracy to slow traffic in the DMV area so that these big construction companies can profit from adding more lanes to the highways. Just something to think about.

Posted by: Beautymarq | September 5, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

On the list, there is no city in MD except Baltimore. I live in a place having large immigrant communities in MD, and I somewhat agree with the theory about foreigners. I'm an immigrant myself and I've witnessed many drivers' offensive, reckless or stupid driving behaviors in my area. The driving condition has been getting worse. Some keep driving at the sign "NO TURN ON RED", some suddenly stop at the intersection after passing the stop line, many keeps moving cars at the intersection although cars are already backed up and no more space, and etc. When I got my driver's license in my country before coming to US, there was a mandatory half-day class teaching driving etiquette and how to drive defensively. Requirements of driving school or some classes might help many immigrants understand good driving behaviors before they hit the road.

Posted by: furan12 | September 5, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I could have told you this for free.

A stop sign is not a suggestion. You really do need to come to a full stop and perform a head scan. Someone could be trying to cross the street.

"Right on red after stop" again, this is not a suggestion.

I think the biggest problem is population density. DC is not really as big as the LA metro area, for example. We're all crammed in here. You've got to fight 100,000 other people to act as the chauffer for your pampered kids so they can go to their pampered kid activity stuff. So yeah, you are going to drive 75 in a 40 MPH zone, but only because your life, time and money are worth more than the people you are sharing the road with. On the GW Parkway, I understand the Park Service police made a killing with their speed traps set up yesterday. 40 MPH is not a suggestion, my neighbors. That road was not designed to function as the racetrack for the Daytona 500. Why do we not respect life and limb of our neighbors anymore? Because we don't respect our own?

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | September 6, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

No surprise to me. I am leaving the DC area this month after 17 years here. Here's my top 5 suggestions for drivers in this area:
1) Always drive for the road conditions whether it be crowded, complex city streets, congested traffic or rain (for goodness sake turn on your headlights so we can see you!)
2) Don't text, eat, talk on the phone, play a musical instrument (yep, we've heard about it here), or anything else but driving while driving--it's dangerous, period.
3) Don't speed in residential areas--the life you save may be your neighbor's or your neighbor's kid.
4) Stop for a school bus and know the rules--some folks driving here may not even know what they are. My Iraqi friends that visited here from Baghdad actually asked "What's a school bus? Why do we have to stop for it?"
5) Don't drive like your schedule, friends, school, kids, job, etc. are more important than everyone's health and well-being. It's like flipping everyone the proverbial bird.
My most memorable DC traffic moment? Watching a Honda Civic squeeze between two cars at a red traffic light to make a right turn.
So, goodbye DC. I'm looking forward to cheaper car insurance rates in Texas. It's not always been fun driving here, but I'm a survivor and you can be, too, If you always watch out for yourself and the other guy while you're out there on those crowded streets and highways, you will make it. See ya!

Posted by: mwalsh1055 | September 6, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I was literally run off rt. 7 in loudoun by someone coming into my lane. He then had the balls to shout at me because I blew my horn at him. After skidding down the grass median, I regained control and instructed him how to fornicate with himself in less genteel terms.

BTW, I'm from NJ, and the drivers here are even worse. NY/NJ drivers are angrier, faster, and less patient, but the drivers here are BY FAR stupider, more ignorant, and less skilled behind the wheel. And again, the feeling of entitlement is off the charts.

After 3 years of driving here, I feel like i need a valium and 10 deep breaths just to get behind the wheel. This is after 15 years of driving in Dirty Jersey. Every time I drive here i think that this might be the day I die.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | September 7, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Ummmm, my schedule, friends, school, kids, job, etc. are more important than everyone's health and well-being. If you can't handle that, get off the road! If you have to die so that I can make it to the Cheesecake Factory in time, isn't it worth it?

Posted by: jiji1 | September 7, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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