America's Safest

You can feel pretty safe the next time you drive down the streets of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Why?  Because according to a new study from Allstate Insurance Company, the residents of Cedar Rapids rank as the safest drivers in the U.S.

The "America's Best Drivers Report" is the first-of-its kind ranking of U.S. cities with populations 100,000-plus.  Among the revelations was the startling fact that the average driver in the central Iowa city will experience an auto collision every 15 years, compared to the national likelihood of a crash every 10 years.  This makes Cedar Rapidians 33.28 percent less likely to have an accident than the national average. Of course, the study didn't just dwell on Iowa, as appealing as that might have been.  Allstate researchers analyzed internal data to determine the likelihood drivers in America's largest 196 cities would experience an auto collision compared to the national average.

Following Cedar Rapids were (in ascending order of crash likelihood) Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; Knoxville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Topeka, Kansas; Lakewood, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado and Birmingham, Alabama.

Conspicuously absent from this Top 10 list were residents of big cities.  That's not surprising since, according to Allstate, drivers in U.S. cities with populations of one million-plus are more likely than the national average to experience a collision. Phoenix was the top-ranked city for safety among cities with populations of one million or more.  It mirrored the national collision average of one accident every 10 years, while others were progressively worse.

Among other cities with a million-plus population San Diego was runner-up to Phoenix, followed by Houston, San Antonio, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Philadelphia.  A driver in Philadelphia is 46.2 percent more likely to be involved in a collision than the national average.

When it comes to medium-size cities of half-a-million to one million residents, Milwaukee ranked tops in safety.  In relative freedom from collisions the city made famous by beer was followed by Memphis, Nashville, El Paso, Oklahoma City, Tucson, Indianapolis, Denver, Jacksonville, and Portland, Oregon.   

"What makes this report from Allstate valuable is that it is based on real world collision data from actual drivers," said Allan Williams, the recently retired chief scientist and researcher at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "Also, Allstate's auto policies represent about 12 percent of the U.S. population, making this report a realistic snapshot of what's happening on America's roadways."

Why do some metro areas do well and others do poorly?

"Many factors contribute to how cities rank in the report," said Williams. "Some factors -- demographic makeup, commuting patterns and city design -- cannot be changed; others, like smart traffic engineering and strong law enforcement initiatives, can help to prevent crashes in metropolitan areas."

Auto journalist Luigi Fraschini is based in Cleveland, a city that failed to make any of the lists for safest drivers.