We Oregonians like to complain about drivers from other states. We lambast Californians for speeding, and label Washingtonians as hoggers of the left lane. But regardless of whether those stereotypes hold true (you know the other west coast states complain about Oregon drivers just as much), the truth is different parts of the country see different driving styles. That means certain communities have considerably worse driving records than others.
Enter the 8th annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report™”. The insurance company used claims data to rank the top 200 largest U.S. cities with the safest drivers. For the fifth time Sioux City, South Dakota ranks as the winner with drivers going nearly 14 years between crashes. The national average is ten years. On the flip side, Washington, D.C. takes last place with drivers crashing, on average, every 4.7 years.
Regardless of location, though, we’re betting we could all improve our skills on the road. Here’re Allstate’s recommendations for becoming a better driver both in and out of the city:
Big-city vs. Small-city Driving
- Allow plenty of time to reach your destination. Stop-and-go traffic, gridlock, traffic signal stops, pedestrian walkways and events that create traffic detours can add time to your travel.
- Know what’s happening in the city during the time you’re driving. Find out if there are events that may impact traffic, and listen to traffic reports on your car radio. Avoid traffic jams or explore alternative routes, if possible.
- Stay alert. Be prepared to frequently stop or slow down for pedestrians, emergency vehicles, delivery trucks, parking cars, taxi cabs, and public transportation vehicles such as city buses.
- Get directions to where you’re going. Review directions carefully in advance. If you get lost mid-trip, safely pull over and wait until you feel calm enough to get back on the road, using that time to get directions, check traffic or call for help.
In smaller cities and suburban areas:
- Watch the speed limit. Speed limits may be greater than in city traffic, which can lead some drivers to speed up and make roads dangerous.
- Look out for pedestrians, especially children. While there are typically fewer pedestrians or obstacles than in large metropolitan areas, there are also typically fewer crosswalks, so pedestrians may be less aware of traffic rules such as where and when to cross the street.
- Know the rules of the road. Suburban streets typically have fewer streetlights and signs, or greater distance between lights and signs. This means darker conditions when driving at night and less opportunity to be reminded of speed limits and other road rules throughout the day.
- Keep a safe distance – especially around large vehicles. Large vehicles like semi-trucks are more likely found on suburban roads than in large metro areas. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others, and know that truck drivers might have limited visibility. If you attempt to pass a truck, make sure you have plenty of time and space to maneuver safely.