One of the first things people do when visiting a city is to complain about the driving. They could be less than a mile from the airport in their rented car, and they will say aloud to themselves, “God, the drivers here are terrible,” making sure to repeat this sentiment to all of their friends upon returning home. Of course, it’s mostly true, because cars are much more complicated than legs.
Every year, Allstate likes to confirm how awful we all are as drivers by releasing their annual “America’s Best Drivers Report,” and Seattle certainly made a mark, coming in at a whopping 173rd among 200 cities for how safe we our as drivers. Let’s put that number in perspective. If the county had 150 states, we would still rank as worse drivers than every single state capital. That’s embarrassing.
The study indicates that Seattle drivers are 36 percent more likely than everyone else to get into a car accident, which means that if there’s a collision between a Seattle driver and someone from elsewhere, it’s probably the Seattleite’s fault (my logic isn’t perfect here). Fort Collins, Colorado drivers, the do-gooders that they are, ranked first, whereas Worcester, Massachusetts appears to have the worst drivers in the country (my kind of town).
In 2013, we were ranked 160th, and in 2012, we were 154th. That means that in about six or seven years, we’ll be ranked the worst drivers in the country, and I’m all for it. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before any real change is made.
Before anyone takes this report too badly, remember that it’s just one report from Allstate. What about Geico or Progressive or Liberty Mutual? Maybe we fare better on their reports. There could be an insurance company which lists Seattle drivers as the best in the nation. When you average that against the 173rd ranking, it would put us at 86. Things are looking better already. How would you feel, Allstate, if we made a ranking of the worst insurers in the country, and put you at the bottom? It would hurt, wouldn’t it? Maybe you should think about that.
According to the report, we go 7.4 years between collisions, which is a little worse than the national average of 10, and a lot worse than the country’s best drivers in Fort Collins, who only get into car accidents once every 14.2 years.
It may seem like measuring car accidents is the right way to measure driving safety, but it leaves out so many aspects of driving, like parking, beating a yellow light, and getting away from the cops.
And what’s so bad about getting into a car accident every seven years? The human body completely replaces its skin cells every seven years–maybe our cars should do the same. A car accident can sometimes be a blessing in disguise, offering a chance to get rid of an old car, meet new people (the driver you hit), and learn plenty about how the court system works.
Why, one time I got into a car accident and the driver I hit wound up having me over for dinner, which I thought was nice, though they could have made a better meal, considering what I had to pay for the accident.
Allstate bases its study on the number of claims they receive, so it’s entirely possible that Fort Collins drivers are liars with their pants on fire who never report their car accidents. Maybe Seattleites are just more honest about how bad we are.
We do need to make a few changes in order to climb in the rankings, like stop reporting our car accidents so often. Keep them to yourself. Sometimes you have to believe that you’re a better driver in order to actually become one, and that’s not going to happen if you do things by the books.
It also couldn’t hurt to start sending packs of Seattle drivers to well-ranked places like Fort Collins in order to drive down their rankings, as well as encouraging Fort Collins residents to move here. These may not sound like great solutions, but we’ve been doing badly on these driver safety rankings for years. If we haven’t learned by now, we’re not going to learn at all.
Besides, every other week there’s some city ranking that places Seattle at or near the top, whether it’s job growth or food or cool places to live. So we do badly on the driving thing. Is that a reason not to live here?
Not at all. Keep enjoying the seafood and hiking and beautiful views, and if you haven’t already, get into a car accident. You want to feel like a local, don’t you?