Before you get behind the wheel to have one last squeeze of summer, might we suggest familiarizing yourself with the ten U.S. cities scientifically proven to have the most crash-prone, property-denting, addled drivers in America? There's a good chance you already live in one.
The data comes from the Allstate insurance company, which uses its experience insuring about 10% of all U.S. drivers to compile the chances that drivers in the 193 largest cities will have a vehicular boo-boo severe enough to warrant an insurance claim. Allstate uses its data to hail those cities with the safest drivers, like granting gold stars to students who never get in trouble.
But with a little handy data sorting, we can take care of the troublemakers ourselves. Let the naming and shaming begin...
10th: Alexandria, Va.
How bad are America's least bad drivers? In Alexandria, the colonial little suburb of Washington, the drivers are about 55% more likely than the national average to get tangled up in an accident, and the average driver goes about six years between major car damage. As the rest of the list will show, while Alexandria's drivers suck in comparison to the rest of the nation, by the accident standards of nearby cities they're A.J. Foyts.
9th: San Francisco
Whether it's because of the frequent fog, "Bullitt" re-creations or Ghirardelli-induced sugar comas, San Francisco residents are 57% more likely than the average American to bang into their fellow travelers. Remember: This is the part of the country that wants to write the software to drive cars for the rest of us.
8th: Jersey City, N.J.
Ah, Jersey City, the town that eternally looks on Manhattan like a fat kid in line for the Cheesecake Factory. We know the data shows its crash stats are identical to San Francisco's, but like everything in Jersey City, these data probably have everything to do with New York (which ranked 171st out of 193 cities). If you've lived in Jersey City for 6.4 years without a car crash, you're above average.
7th: Hartford, Conn.
One might think a state full of insurance companies would have the safest drivers, but Hartford residents appear to love recreating the allure of their favorite sport on the road. They're 60% more likely to bust another motorist, which would make them tops in the country if we sawed off the Eastern Seaboard and one part of California.
The city of brotherly cheesesteaks gets a lot of blocked traffic arteries thanks to motorists such as the woman who drove the wrong way down a freeway. It's also the largest city in the rankings of the worst 10, out-crashing Chicago, Los Angeles and the rest. Or maybe they just want their vehicles to look like the Liberty Bell.
5th: Providence, R.I.
Never been here. Know nothing about it. Oh wait — I did stop here once for gas, on my way to Cape Cod. Guess I was lucky to get out, since its residents crash 66% more frequently than average. Providence. Huh. Nope, drawing a blank. Wasn't there a movie with Alec Baldwin about Providence? Guess I could look it up. Nah, nevermind.
4th: Newark, N.J.
Still recovering from floods that turn its streets into jet-ski practice centers, Newarkians run their customized Hummers into each other at an alarming rate of 70% more than average; it's also the first city in the list where residents can't even wait six years before showing that one meathead what's what. Take heart: At least you have a cool mayor.
3rd: Glendale, Calif.
You can quibble that Glendale should be counted along with other Los Angeles suburbs as a big L.A. story, but its numbers are shocking. Every five and a half years on average, a Glendale driver gets into an accident. They're 80% more likely to have a crash than the national rate. Of all the possible explanations concering the freeways and traffic density, the most obvious explanation may be civic pride for native son Paul Walker.
Charm City residents apparently see their vehicles as just another crustacean waiting for its shell to be cracked open, getting into accidents at a rate 88% greater than the rest of us. If Edgar Allan Poe were alive, he'd write a poem about it, right after he finished suing the Baltimore Ravens for eleventy billion dollars.
1st: Washington, D.C.
As a frequent driver in our nation's capital, this surprises me not in the least. Washington's grandees are more than twice as likely to get in a wreck than the national rate, and go on average 4.8 years between urgent calls to the auto insurance adjuster. There are so many possible reasons — the city's cross-hatch street layout, it's population of drivers with diplomatic immunity, tour-bus related congestion — that it's hard to assign blame, exactly the kind of problem Washington excels in creating.