Study: D.C. drivers worst in nation

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Photo - Drivers in the D.C. region are among the worst in the nation. (Examiner file photo)
Drivers in the D.C. region are among the worst in the nation. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

D.C. drivers are among the worst in the nation, getting into accidents twice as frequently as motorists nationwide, according to a new report.

Washingtonians get into car accidents every 4.7 years on average, according to insurance company Allstate Corp., which analyzed the company's own claims data between January 2009 and December 2010.

Travel woes for Labor Day weekend
Washington-area roads will be among the most congested in the nation this weekend, when residents head out for the three-day Labor Day holiday.
Washington is expected to be the fourth-worst city to drive in during the three-day weekend, according to INRIX, a traffic information provider. The city jumped up two spots from last year, when it ranked sixth in the country.
The worst times to travel are between 5 and 6 p.m. Friday afternoon, as residents try to escape the city as soon as possible -- traffic will start to get worse as soon as 2 p.m., according to the report.
For an easier drive, leave after 7 p.m. on Friday, or wait to drive off until Saturday morning, before lunchtime, according to Jim Bak, spokesman for INRIX.
Five safest cities
City Average years between collisions
Sioux Falls, S.D. 13.8
Boise, Idaho 13.8
Fort Collins, Colo. 13.6
Madison, Wis. 13.0
Lincoln, Neb. 12.4
Five worst cities
City (Average years between collisions)  
Washington, D.C. (4.7)
Baltimore, Md. (5.3)
Providence, R.I. (5.5)
Hialeah, Fla. (5.6)
Glendale, Calif. (5.6)

It's the fifth year in a row that D.C. motorists have had the dubious honor of placing last in Allstate's rankings, which determines how likely drivers in the nation's 200 largest cities are to crash their vehicles.

Three other cities in the Washington region also rank among the worst in the nation -- drivers in Baltimore get into accidents every 5.3 years, making them a close second to D.C. for the second consecutive year. Alexandria ranked 189th in the nation, while Arlington ranked 184th.

Drivers nationwide get into accidents about every 10 years, according to Allstate.

The report comes as no surprise to those who commute by car in and out of the District, or repair shops that have to deal with the constant collisions on the city's roads.

Drivers in the region don't pay enough attention, according to David Pham, owner of DP Auto Service in Northwest D.C. Motorists confused by the rush hour lane changes on Connecticut Avenue in front of his shop cause at least one accident per week, he said.

"People aren't checking their blind spots, especially at that time of day," Pham said. "And around the city, people are pretty aggressive."

The poor attitude on the road doesn't change when you get into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, he said.

"Even in Maryland a little bit, especially on the Beltway," Pham said. "People get annoyed, there's so much traffic congestion and people just get in these moods."

"It seems we've got some aggressive drivers and people who are impatient to get where they're going, and those things seem to contribute to why there's so many accidents," said Adam Polak, a regional spokesman for Allstate.

Car crash fatalities are at their lowest level nationwide since 1949, but more than 32,000 car crashes still occur every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The report doesn't analyze what causes those accidents, but Polak said some causes are common knowledge -- distracted and aggressive driving.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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