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Report ranks Spokane drivers No. 1 in state

Thu., July 9, 2009, midnight

Cites low collision rate

Complicated weather, uncomplicated intersections and wider, more open thoroughfares all help make Spokane’s drivers the best in Washington. Allstate Insurance’s fifth “America’s Best Drivers Report,” released Wednesday, concludes that the Lilac City’s drivers are better than Seattle’s. The Emerald City’s motorists average 8.3 years between collisions while Spokane’s average 10.6 years, the report states.

Seattle drivers may think the statistic is unfair because there are 400,000 more people to bump into there. But drivers in San Diego, with a million-plus population, also rank higher than those in Seattle, according to Allstate Insurance’s review of 200 U.S. cities.

Spokane is ranked 34th in the U.S. for best driving, while Seattle is 134th, according to the report. San Diego is 101st. The safest drivers live in Sioux City, S.D.

Experts say snow could be a key reason for Spokane’s safety record. It trains people to be careful.

“You talk to anyone on the coast – when they get snow, they are counting on people who are from here to get them around,” said Becci Humphrey, co-owner of B&B Driving School. “In adverse conditions, we definitely have the advantage.”

An inch of snow would shut down some cities, but in Spokane even driver’s education classes are a go, driving school owners said. “A lot of parents enroll the kids in the winter, because they want their kids to learn how to drive in the snow,” Humphrey said. “The kids who take the classes in the winter learn to drive with more caution.”

When there’s no snow, the driving school uses a “skid master.” The machine simulates a skid to teach drivers how to steer out of it.

Scott Yerges, owner of All Seasons Driving School, is from Tacoma. He considers Spokane a much better place for drivers.

“Part of it is we don’t have a lot of complex intersections or clover-leaf highway on- and off-ramps,” he said. “We are blessed with nice, wide-open spaces to drive.”

A.J. Seitz, co-owner of 911 Driving School, said Spokane’s slower pace and snowy streets make the city’s drivers the best: “The better you can drive in all kinds of conditions, the better driver you are going to be.”

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