Pittsburgh ranks among worst for frequency of crashes

Yinz drive bad.

That pretty much summarizes the findings of a report issued Tuesday by the Allstate insurance company, ranking the nation’s 200 largest cities for driver safety.

Pittsburgh came in at number 187 and dropped in the overall ranks for the sixth consecutive year. Allstate determined that the typical driver here gets in a collision every 6.6 years, with the national average being one bang-up per decade.

Viewed another way, Pittsburghers were 51.3 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than the nation’s drivers as a whole.

Among cities with populations of 250,000 to 499,999, Pittsburgh came in dead last in the rankings, behind Miami and Oakland, Calif.

The safest American city was Fort Collins, Colo., with the average driver crashing every 14.2 years. Rounding out the top five were Brownsville, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Kansas City, Kan.; and Huntsville, Ala.

Allstate spokeswoman Julia Reusch said the company issues the annual report to congratulate drivers in the safer cities and raise awareness in places like Pittsburgh that did not fare well.

“The reaction we generally get from cities on the bottom of the list is shock, and they want to know how they can get better,” she said.

The company uses collision data and does not analyze whether factors other than poor drivers — such as weather, terrain and road quality — factor into crash totals, Ms. Reusch said. But she noted that Pittsburgh, with lots of bridges, tunnels and congestion, is “a city that’s set up to be not so easy to drive through.”

Among the few cities that fell below Pittsburgh in the 2014 America’s Best Drivers Report were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Boston — and, no surprise here, Philadelphia, which was the most unsafe city among those with 1 million or more inhabitants.

The rock-bottom worst place for safe driving was Worcester, Mass., where the average driver finds himself or herself at the body shop every 4.3 years, with a crash rate nearly 135 percent ahead of the national average.

Allstate analyzed claims data for its policyholders for 2011 and 2012 to develop the rankings. The company said it issues about 10 percent of all auto insurance policies in the U.S.

Pittsburgh has never fared well in the 10 years of Allstate’s reporting, peaking at 124th safest in the 2008 report. Since then, it has slipped in the rankings every year.

How do we get better?

“The overall No. 1 tip — and it sounds so simple, but people don’t do it — is to pay attention to driving,” Ms. Reusch said, noting the proliferation of distractions available to motorists.

Also, “check the local traffic reports. If you’re stressed out and rushing to get somewhere, you’re not going to be the safest driver,” she said.

If there was a shred of good news in the report, at least for people hereabouts, it was in the footnote: “The report is not used to determine auto insurance rates.”

America's best drivers

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1868 or on Twitter @pgtraffic.

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