SunBreak | Allstate: You really suck at driving, Seattle

Out on the Parkway, originally uploaded by sea turtle.

Apparently, the message is that you had better be in good hands if you’re driving in Seattle, because you’re more likely to get into an accident. Out of a field of 200 U.S. cities, Seattle comes in 154th. Where the national average for car accidents is one every ten years, in Seattle, the average driver will collide–or be collided with–every 7.9 years. (Whereas an average Sioux Falls driver, in the top spot, will go almost 14 years between smashups.)

The Eighth Annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report” is not supposed to be a shaming document. “We don’t want drivers in Seattle to be discouraged by their ranking. Instead, we want the report to challenge drivers in Seattle to make positive changes to their driving habits that will in turn make the city a safer place to live, work and raise families,” is the diplomatic framing of Shauna McBride, Allstate’s Regional Spokesperson.

But let’s go ahead and note right here that Tacoma is worse–in 156th place. Thosepeople drive like maniacs. Around the Northwest, Spokane comes in 43rd, slightly bettering the national average, at 10.6 years between bent fenders. But Boise, Idaho, is the real star, coming in second, just a hair behind Sioux Falls. Boise! We throw up our hands.

As Allstate’s tips on safer driving boil down to “drive more safely,” they may be of limited use. One might reasonably assume that people who drive in a rush, distractedly, without a clear idea of where they’re headed, tailgating, unaware of the rules of the road, speeding, and without looking for pedestrians have been told, repeatedly, to be more careful already, without it sinking in. And actually, all of those sound like Seattle driving behaviors, except for the not watching for pedestrians part. (Not that people aren’t run down and killed even so.)

All that is needed now is an overlay of smart phone penetration in U.S. cities, so we can see the relationship between distracted driving and collisions. (Or, to triage the problem, distracted driving and fatalities.) “Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind,” says the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

For you statistical wonks, here is some background on the Allstate report’s reliability:

A weighted average of the two-year numbers determined the annual percentages. The report defines an auto crash as any collision resulting in a property damage claim. Allstate’s auto policies represent about 10 percent of all U.S. auto policies, making this report a realistic snapshot of what’s happening on America’s roadways.

The SunBreak is an online magazine of news & culture. A conversation about the things on Seattle’s mind.

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10 thoughts on “SunBreak | Allstate: You really suck at driving, Seattle

  1. Number/proportion of claims are not nearly as interesting or telling as the value of the claims. I’ll hazard that a significant percentage of claims in Seattle/Tacoma are, e.g., I-5 fender benders resulting in minimal property damage and no human damage. Not to say that my neighbors don’t suck at driving…

  2. I have no trouble seeing Seattle having more than its share of accidents, but I’m more interested on our local rates for serious injury and/or fatality. My suspician is that those numbers will be on the low end, but I have no research to back it up.

  3. i had a dishonest driver swipe me around here and then avoided speaking with both her and my insurance company to go over details only to eventually tell them after many phone inquiries it was my fault and i turned into her. and they just took her word for it and i was stuck with the bill. don’t bother calling police for minor accidents (which is what i did)… immediately get witnesses and their contact info if someone hits your car. like jump out of your car and pull people over if you need to since i guess this he sad she said kind of thing happens all the time. just sharing so others here can learn from my mistake.

  4. … and nowhere does the link say a thing about Seattle being so horrible. Has the link changed?

    I realize all the Californians and Canadians here make it down right treacherous to drive, but Allstate is ONE insurance company. Frankly, their rates were absolute shit when I phoned them. I have State Farm and always have. Allstate’s rates were more than twice what State Farm’s were. In short, I take anything Allstate says with a grain of salt.

    I have no accidents or tickets on my record. Guess that makes me overdue?

  5. I’m not convinced this means squat either. All this might prove is that ALLSTATE’s drivers in Seattle suck. This might be meaningful if they surveyed a range of companies and states and adjusted for places where some companies may not offer coverage. Plus, some companies won’t insure “just anybody”. They might insure only safe drivers or drivers of a group that may typicall have fewer accidents. Maybe Allstate is an “insurer of last resort” in WA. Who knows? This data doesn’t prove squat.

  6. Having lived and worked in New York City, San Diego, and San Francisco; driven numerous bands across the country on tours, I can honestly say that I have seen more ignorant drivers in this city than anywhere else I’ve been. Apparently no one in Seattle has heard of a turn signal, stopping at red lights, parking in the same direction as traffic flow or pedestrian right of way. Oh, and when you hit a pedestrian/ someone on a bike/ another car, you should probably stop and not hightail it out of the area. Thankfully a handful have heard about using their headlights after dark, which makes you a bit better than the drivers in Los Angeles. Congrats.

  7. Everywhere I’ve lived (and I do mean EVERYWHERE) people say the same shit about the drivers. “…well, I’ve lived [fill in the blank], and nobody here knows how to use turn signals, or to stay out of the passing lane, or, blah, or blah, or blah blah blah… People in [fill in the blank] drive SO much better than here…” (wherever here is).

  8. … but only compared to other areas I’ve lived and driven extensively(New York City, Conneticut, Eastern WA).
    I find they are more aggro than in New York City, in fact. But when drivers here aren’t being totally aggro and/or passive aggressive – than they’re just being plain passive – it is really extremes. And the astounding lack of turn signal use here drives me nuts. But since I use my signal, I’ve found on the freeway especially, that people don’t let me in, they speed up and close the distance as soon as it goes on. The whole driving slow in the left lane thing is also too annoying. And no, I’m not from elsewhere, I moved to Seattle as a teen and got my driver’s license here. Plus I had three motorcycles before even getting my own car – no accidents.