If You Stop in These Cities, Be Ready to Stop!

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CARS.COM — Like Big Apple residents who proudly proclaim “I (heart) NY,” you may love your city dearly. But depending on how the place you live performed in a recent Allstate Insurance study, driving in your beloved hometown may be quite a hard-braking affair.

Related: Where Do the Best, Worst Drivers Live?

As part of its annual America’s Best Drivers Report released earlier this year, Allstate researchers studied braking habits of drivers in the 200 largest U.S. cities. It compared each of those cities’ braking tendencies to the national average of 19 hard-braking incidents per 1,000 miles driven per capita.

“A hard-braking event is defined as slowing down 8 miles per hour or more over a one-second period,” Allstate said in a statement. “Allstate found a correlation between hard braking and collision frequency. Cities with higher collision frequency also recorded more hard-braking events.”

In other words, the more your fellow citizens tend to slam on the brakes, the more they tend to crash. Beyond the obvious safety hazards associated with traffic crashes, there’s the additional wear and tear on your car to be considered.

“Hard braking in itself won’t harm your vehicle. Antilock brake systems have virtually eliminated loss of control due to skidding … which used to lead to severe damage,” Scott Keene, education manager at Universal Technical Institute’s campus in Lisle, Ill., told “Continuous hard braking will accelerate tire-tread, brake-pad and rotor wear. Frequent application of the ABS motors and solenoid can lead to premature part failure or ABS malfunction.”

Keene noted another consideration: “It is also not much fun being a passenger with a hard-braking driver!”

To that end, Allstate researchers determined that the most courteous drivers in terms of coming to a slow ‘n’ steady stop more often than not live in the Midwest and the more sparsely populated areas of the South and West. Compared with the national average of 19, Madison, Wis., led the pack with just nine hard-braking incidents per 1,000 miles driven, followed by Anchorage, Alaska (9); Honolulu (10); Des Moines, Iowa (11); Wichita, Kan. (11); and Boise, Idaho, Lincoln, Neb., Kansas City, Kan., Chesapeake, Va., and Jackson, Miss. (all 12).

The top 25 hardest-braking cities, followed by the number of braking events per 1,000 miles, are:

1. Philadelphia, 33

2. Miami, 26

3. New York, 26

4. Newark, N.J., 25

5. Paterson, N.J., 24

6. Hialeah, Fla., 24

7.  Sterling Heights, Mich., 23

8. Yonkers, N.Y., 23

9. Hollywood, Fla., 23

10. Bridgeport, Conn., 23

11. Chicago, 23

12. Pembroke Pines, Fla., 22

13. Miramar, Fla., 22

14. Baltimore, 22

15. Scottsdale, Ariz., 22

16. Warren, Mich., 21

17. Jersey City, N.J., 21

18. Detroit, 21

19. Chandler, Ariz., 21

20. Phoenix, 21

21. New Haven, Conn., 21

22. North Las Vegas, Nev., 21

23. Glendale, Ariz., 20

24. Tempe, Ariz., 20

25. Memphis, 20

By metropolitan area, the hardest-braking areas are:

1. New York-Newark-New Jersey, N.Y., N.J., Pa., 22

2. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa., N.J., Del., 21

3. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., 21

4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla., 21

5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., 20

If you live in an area that has high-braking activity, Allstate offers the following tips to help mitigate maintenance and avoid the costs of a crash:

  • Leave ample room between you and other vehicles. One car length for every 10 mph is commonly advised.
  • Minimize distractions — smartphones, navigation systems, eating, grooming, etc. — while driving.
  • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination, accounting for unexpected gridlock and detours.
  • Stay alert for pedestrians, emergency vehicles, delivery trucks, parking cars and public transportation vehicles.

At some point, no matter where we live, we’ll all need a brake replacement. Learn how to tell when your brakes need replaced here.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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