Study: Fort Collins, Colo., Has Safest Drivers; D.C. Remains Worst

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A new report finds America’s safest drivers are in Fort Collins, Colo., while the least-safe are in the nation’s capital. In Allstate Insurance Co.’s annual Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report, the Colorado city (pictured) — about 65 miles north of Denver — earns the safest title among the 194 cities ranked. The insurer says its study found drivers in Fort Collins should average 13.9 years between collisions, which is 28.2% less likely than the national average. Boise, Idaho; Sioux Falls, N.D.; Brownsville, Texas; and Madison, Wis., round out the top five best-driver cities, with accident frequency ranging from 12.5 years to 13.9 years.

“We know that about the national average for the time a driver has [an accident] is about every 10 years,” Allstate spokeswoman Kate Hollcraft told us. “We’re looking at drivers in all of those cities as compared to the national average.”

Fort Collins was No. 3 in Allstate’s 2012 report, but it held the top spot in 2010 and 2011 — and placed second from 2006 to 2009. By contrast, Washington, D.C., had the worst drivers in the 2013 report, with a predicted average of just 4.8 years per driver between accidents. That’s 109.3% higher than the national average. A slew of East Coast cities — among them Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Providence, R.I., and Newark, N.J. — ranked in the bottom 25.

The nation’s capital has harbored the worst drivers from 2008 to 2012, according to Allstate. In fact, in the study’s nine years, Washington ranked last all but twice. “They’ve got a lot of people and a lot of cars in a small space,” Hollcraft said. “There are always a lot of factors that go into [the rankings], so we can’t say that it’s one or two. But there’s absolutely something to be said for cities that are more compact or more densely populated.”

Still, sprawling Southern California had a few cities among Allstate’s bottom 25, including Los Angeles and two suburbs (Fullerton and Glendale). Perhaps traffic promotes bad driving. Traffic information provider INRIX named Los Angeles the country’s most-traffic congested city in 2013. And six of INRIX’s most congested 10 cities ranked in the bottom 35 of Allstate’s study.

Allstate says it excluded all of Massachusetts due to limited data availability, so we don’t know how Boston — INRIX’s 10th most congested city — rates. The insurer claims to have about 10% of all U.S. auto insurance policies. It based the study on two years’ data to minimize the effects of phenomena like a bad winter or a long summer construction season, and the list reflects weighted averages of property-damage claims.

“Damage [is] not necessarily to property but to the car,” Hollcraft said. The insurer weeded out theft or incidental damage, like a tree branch falling on a parked vehicle, “so we’re really looking at someone’s driving habits.”

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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