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A shameful distinction

I drove through 16 states and many cities this summer and saw poor driving everywhere.  And though driver error is universally prevalent, the data-scientists from an auto insurance quote Website, Insurify, set out to quantify where the worst drivers are.

When they identified their top 20 cities with the worst drivers, Spokane was listed in the number four spot.  In a study of communities across the nation revealing the worst drivers, number four is not a distinction to be proud of.

The rankings in their research are based on a set of 1.4 million car insurance shopper applications.  Each applicant was asked whether any drivers on their policy request had been cited for a driving incident where they were at fault in the past seven years. At-fault incidents include accidents, DUIs, failures to stop, speeding, reckless driving, passing violations, and other causes for citation.  Using this information, they were able to calculate the percent of drivers in each city with a history of at-fault driving incidents.  After determining the city in each U.S. state with the highest percentage of drivers reporting an incident, they ranked the top twenty.  They also included city statistics on the two most common types of incidents in each city — speeding violations and at-fault accidents — against the national averages for these offenses.

The resulting statistics for Spokane were:  Percent of drivers with an at-fault driving incident were 29.06%; they are 65% more likely to receive a speeding ticket than the average driver and 21% more likely to get in an at-fault accident than the average driver.

At least we did not top the list.  That honor when tot Greer, South Carolina, where drivers were a whopping 103% more likely to get a speeding ticket and 63% more likely to have an at-fault accident than the average driver.

Lowest on the list of 20 was Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where 24.28% of drivers had an at-fault accident, but were only 40% more likely to get a speeding ticket.  So, as a community we could do much better, especially when considering that there are hundreds of cities that did not even make the list. 

Excessive speed, inattention, impairment and aggressive driving account for most of our driving woes.  Besides that, we are in the midst of the most deadly time of the year for traffic accidents, so now is a good time to increase vigilance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently reported that summer and early fall are the deadliest times of year on the country’s roads, attributing this to the increased number of road trips and miles driven.  In fact, July and August see approximately 116 road deaths per day in the U.S., making these the deadliest months on record.  With more vehicles in motion during peak vacation time, drivers face an elevated risk of getting in an accident. 

Let’s work at changing that reality.  One does not have to drive very much to see driver shortcomings.  There’s not much we can do about that except be attentive and drive defensively enough to accommodate others’ errors.  But it is under our control to avoid making mistakes, or learning from making one to not repeat it.  Hopefully, those occasional “close ones” will serve as reminders to stay alert without causing serious mishaps or mayhem.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at precisiondriving@spokesman.com.