Why People in These 5 Cities Drive Safer Than You

Written by | Updated August 20, 2013

The national car accident average for drivers is roughly 10 years between accidents. This means the average driver can expect to be in an accident approximately once per decade. Some cities across America have much lower averages as tracked by Allstate Insurance Company, including the nation’s safest city to drive, Sioux Falls, SD. Drivers there can expect an average of 13.8 years between accidents, or 27.6 percent lower than the national average.

Sioux Falls, SD

Rounding out the top five are:

Boise, ID at 13.8 years between accidents

Boise, Idaho
Fort Collins, CO at 13.6 years between accidents

Fort Collins

Madison, WI at 13 years between accidents

Madison Wisconsin
-Lincoln, NE at 12.4 years between accidents

Lincoln, NE

So, what is it about these cities that cause its citizens to be safer drivers? Can it be something as simple as friendly, courteous drivers? Do smaller streets cause congestion and slower overall speeds? Have city planners done an admirable job in laying out its roads and thoroughfares? Do extended periods of inclement weather keep drivers home in these cities?

The answers, according to traffic experts and insurance companies, it’s a combination of all of the above.

Driver Behavior

The largest contributor to car crashes is driver behavior. How a driver reacts to an unexpected event, how aggressively they drive, and whether they drive defensively or not are driver behaviors typically factored into accidents.

Drivers in smaller towns typically enjoy less stress than people in larger urban areas. Stress is a leading cause of rage behind the wheel, aggressive driving, and narrowed focus, which leads to diminished situational awareness.

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion and automobile accidents are usually correlated. Smaller urban areas tend to have less traffic overall, which means less congestion. This is the opposite of large cities, like Washington, D.C., which is ranked the nation’s worst city for driving and is arguably one of the most congested cities in America. Based on Allstate’s research, drivers there can expect to be in a fender-bender every 4.7 years, or 119 percent of the national average.

Road Design

Smaller cities and old urban centers have something in common: their roadways were designed to get motorists from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. This means direct routes to and from shopping areas, waterfronts, business districts, and residential areas. Most small cities and large inner cities have roadways setup on a grid, which makes traversing the town much simpler.

Urban sprawl in large metropolitan areas, homes of the nation’s worst cities for drivers, tends to cause a breakdown in the grid structure, with each suburb effectively doing its own thing. Cities are often forced to create routes around existing buildings and natural structures, things that weren’t there when the city was established.

Circuitous routes, streets with similar but different names, and overall unfamiliarity are leading causes of automobile accidents. The top cities for drivers listed above enjoy superior road designs, due primarily to the fact their smallish population doesn’t require anything different.

Inclement Weather

Unless you work from home, there’s little that can be done about driving in bad weather. Rain is the most common form of bad weather faced by drivers and it does diminish visibility dramatically. However, it doesn’t keep people indoors, like snow.

With the exception of Boise on the top five cities list, each has an average snowfall that exceeds the national average. When considering snowy conditions and bitter cold temperatures, some factors from other categories come into play, including:

-Drivers in smaller cities drive less miles per year than drivers in larger metropolitan area. This means they will drive less miles, overall, on those snowy roads.
-There is less traffic congestion in smaller cities, which means drivers will face fewer cars on snow-covered roads.

Snow removal crews in smaller cities have fewer miles of snow to clear, which means they are typically cleared from end-to-end in less time, meaning more drivers will enjoy safer roads sooner.

The safest cities for drivers in America are smaller urban centers. Drivers in these cities typically enjoy more direct routes around the city center, and have far less congestion than larger metropolitan areas, which is a leading cause of traffic accidents. All this leads to residents who deal with far less traffic-related stress and drive fewer miles each year. Any way you look at it, the less time you spend behind the wheel, the less chance you have getting into an accident.

Photos courtesy of bjwolf, David Kingham, and Obrien Digital.

Written by John Roskelley

John is a hockey fan, frequent fisherman, and former Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. He nerds out to finding new gadgets that help keep his family safe. Learn more

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