America's most accident-prone cities

The top 10 list does not include Los Angeles. Another surprise? The city at the top of the list.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 7, 2011 12:06PM

This post comes from Matt Brownell at partner site MainStreet.


About 32,000 Americans are involved in traffic accidents every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you want to avoid joining them, you might want to take a look at which city you live in.


For the past seven years, car insurer Allstate has looked at its claims data for the 200 largest U.S. cities to see which cities have the fewest car accidents per capita. The latest results show that, for the second straight year, Fort Collins, Colo., is the safest driving city in America. The average driver in the city of 138,000 gets into a car accident just once every 14 years, 26% better than the national average (the average U.S. driver gets into an accident about once a decade).


But not every city is such a peaceful place to go for a drive. Post continues after video.


Here are the 10 cities that brought up the bottom of the list by getting into more car accidents than anyone else. Note that cities in Massachusetts were not included in the rankings, which means that Boston drivers get a reprieve.


10th most accident-prone: Alexandria, Va.

  • Estimated population: 150,006.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.4 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 55.9%.
  • Just south of Washington, D.C., many of Alexandria's residents spend their commute on the area's infamous Beltway, which we imagine contributes the lion's share of fender benders.

Ninth most accident-prone: San Francisco

  • Estimated population: 815,358.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.4 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 57.3%.
  • San Francisco has been the setting for some of cinema's greatest car chases, including classic sequences in "Bullitt" and "The Rock." But the reputation for dangerous driving apparently isn't all Hollywood magic, as the average driver there is 57% more likely than the average American to get into an accident.

Eighth most accident-prone: Jersey City, N.J.

  • Estimated population: 242,503.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.4 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 57.5%.
  • Jersey City is one of two New Jersey cities to make the top 10. That perhaps shouldn't come as a great surprise: Jersey was one of the states included in our worst roads list. If it's any consolation, all those accidents aren't necessarily causing a lot of fatalities, as the state ranks near the bottom in per capita driver deaths.

Seventh most accident-prone: Hartford, Conn.

  • Estimated population: 124,060.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.3 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 59.6%.
  • Hartford is informally known as the insurance capital of the world because of all the insurance companies that once made their headquarters in the city, and the industry still employs many of the city's residents. Hartford's drivers have done their best to keep all those adjusters and underwriters busy, with the average driver almost 60% more likely than the average American to get into an accident.

Sixth most accident-prone: Philadelphia

  • Estimated population: 1,547,297.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.2 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 60.2%.
  • Apparently there isn't much brotherly love once people get behind the wheel. Pennsylvania also made our worst roads in America list, though it largely earned its spot on the list for the dismal state of its bridges.

Fifth most accident-prone: Providence, R.I.

  • Estimated population: 171,909.
  • Average time between accidents: 6.0 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 66.7%.
  • Providence cracks the top five with drivers who get into accidents every six years.

Fourth most accident-prone: Newark, N.J.

  • Estimated population: 278,154.
  • Average time between accidents: 5.9 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 70.8%.
  • Newark and Jersey City are on opposites side of the famous New Jersey Turnpike, and we imagine drivers in both cities spend their fair share of time on the highway. And while many commuters to New York City choose to take the train into Penn Station, we don't doubt that a lot of these accidents are commuters who opt to drive into the Big Apple.

Third most accident-prone: Glendale, Calif.

  • Estimated population: 196,882.
  • Average time between accidents: 5.5 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 80.8%.
  • Los Angeles itself finished just outside the top 10, but Glendale, in Los Angeles County, checks in at No. 3 with drivers more than 80% more likely to get into an accident than the average American. Driving is pretty much the only way to get around the L.A. area, to the point that when the I-405 freeway had to shut down for a weekend back in July, local media dubbed the event "Carmageddon." Glendale is also the second California city to make the top 10, so it's no surprise that it's the sixth most expensive state to insure a car.

Second most accident-prone: Baltimore

  • Estimated population: 637,418.
  • Average time between accidents: 5.3 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 88.7%.
  • We can personally attest that Baltimore is a lovely city to visit, but in some ways it's a tough city to make home. The high crime rate landed Maryland on our list of the most crime-ridden states in America, and apparently it's a tough place to drive, too: Drivers there are almost 90% more likely than average to get into an accident. It's no surprise, then, that Maryland is also one of the states with the highest insurance premiums.

The most accident-prone city in America: Washington, D.C.

  • Estimated population: 599,657.
  • Average time between accidents: 4.8 years.
  • Increased chance of an accident: 107.3%.
  • Just 40 miles south of Baltimore is the undisputed champ of bad drivers: Washington, a city whose very existence is defined by the nightmarish highway surrounding it, the Beltway. The average D.C. resident pays $2,146 in insurance premiums a year, and given that they're more than twice as likely to get in an accident as the average driver, we'd say that's pretty justified.

More on MainStreet and MSN Money:


Sep 7, 2011 2:06PM

Remember when the only distraction was the A.M. radio, the cigarette lighter and some screaming kids?!  Technology killed the safe driver, doesn't matter where you live.


If you have no clue where you are going prior to leaving the house, don't leave - coming to an abrupt stop because you are lost in NOT AN OPTION!!

Sep 7, 2011 2:49PM
DC is most accident prone because of all of the foreign diplomats who don't care what they hit.
Sep 7, 2011 2:50PM
I know that MSN has to fill up space with these silly stories but they should at least hire competent people to write. MSN Money partner says that 32,000 people were involved in traffic accidents each year. In reality, 32,000 people were KILLED in vehicle accidents in 2010. Do you realize that this is a spectacular goof? What has happened to journalism?
Sep 7, 2011 3:59PM

The Baltimore area is, without a doubt, full of rude, me-first, get-out-of-my-way drivers who can't even manage the basic courtesy of using their turn signals.  Remember people, turn signals are for signaling the INTENT to turn, you know, in advance of the actual turn.  Flipping the signal switch when you're already half way through the turn is of no use to anybody. (rant over)

Sep 7, 2011 8:55PM

High percentage of accidents per capita does not directly correlate to poor driving. Did anybody bother to factor in winter driving conditions? Poorly designed roadways? Insufficient lighting? Rural vs. metro driving? Anything like that?




So, I'm not sure the conclusion--that these cities have the worst drivers--is correct. A more likely conclusion to draw is that these cities have the worst or the most challenges for any driver.


And being a bad (inattentive? unskilled?) driver is not the same as being a rude driver. In my city which will remain unnamed, we don't have lots of bad drivers, though we have our share. But we sure do have lots of rude drivers. Road etiquette has gone straight to Hell in the last 30 years, and I don't see it getting any better any time soon. Turn signals mystify people here, stop signs are a suggestion, Yellow on a traffic light means hurry your **** up, and everyone's speedometers read 5 mph slow--unless you're on the freeway, and then they read 10 mph slow. Horns don't work, but fingers and subwoofers do, and then there are the low riders whose cars won't go over 40 or speed bumps. Tailgating is a highly developed art form, mostly performed by drivers of Hummers, 4WD trucks and large SUV's whose schedules are more important than your life. Drivers here also carry guns: shootings as a result of road rage are not uncommon.


Be careful out there. Don't drink and drive. Don't text and drive. Don't yak on the cell and drive. Pay attention. Just drive. Be courteous and practice good road etiquette. The next driver you cut off, flip off or tailgate may just shoot you for your trouble.



Sep 7, 2011 4:26PM
I can not even believe that RI is 5th, it should be 1st!   This state is absolutely the worst.  We have drivers  who do not acknowledge stop signs, pedestrians in cross walks, go thru red lights (after 3-4 seconds long), talk and text on cell phones (not paying attention), take up 2 spaces when they park,  try to pass on the right (when there's no lane)!,  and here's the best.....drum-roll please.......they stop in the middle of the street for yard sales or are not sure which way to go, then get mad when you beep at them!!!!
Sep 7, 2011 9:02PM

Who made this list?

How could Boston be excluded?

Sep 7, 2011 3:52PM
How on earth can Miami not be on this list?  I don't know what their methodology is, but I'd say it has to be wrong. Detroit drivers may be the fastest, and Boston drivers may be the most hard-headed, but after traveling and driving all over the U.S., Miami drivers are absolutely the worst. In just 2 days driving around Miami, I saw 3 major wrecks.
Sep 7, 2011 4:32PM

Surprised Las Vegas wasn't  #1.  I swear every state has sent their worst drivers here.  Nevada drivers are great, outside LV city limits, but all the transplants have brought their bad habits with them.  No one seems to know what a Stop sign means, and they must have some religious scruple against using their turn blinkers.  These are two of the lesser problems.

Sep 7, 2011 3:02PM

To RealityChuck funny I didn't see anything on here regards to race, Those cities have a high concentration in people commuting in general. most of which are in in-climate cities. The other stat no shown is that most accidents are in commute to work, hmmm maybe that's why AZ, FL and San Diego aren't on the list - retirement locations.


You also need a leeson on urban development - White flight (running away thats a different topic), But I can take you to communities that they are complete white gettos. Typically when those with money leave communities that were striving so do businesses and community updates, hence the term urban blight. You apparently have other issuse that are unrelated to topic on hand and need to work them out.

Sep 7, 2011 3:19PM
Of course LA is not listed; it was compiled by counting insurance claims.  Anyone should know that illegal aliens with "legal" California drivers licenses do not have insurance coverage,  Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Sep 7, 2011 2:21PM
This list is definitely wrong.  It would be nice to know the exact criteria of this study.  I live in a sanctuary city (Denver, CO) and I happen to live in a predominantly illegal part of Denver.  Seemingly weekly, coming home to my apartment, I notice badly damaged vehicles sitting in the parking lot.  At first I didn't know what the deal was, but after living here a while you meet people and start to get an idea of what is really going on.  When an Illegal (not all) gets into an accident, they flee the scene and dump the vehicle in a parking lot.  My car was hit and runned in the parking lot my first year in CO.  Most don't have insurance and they get and I.D. an then a car loan under an assumed name.  So when trouble strikes they just dump the car and the trouble is gone.  They walk home like nothing has happened. 
Sep 7, 2011 2:46PM
I live in northern Ca. We have the worst drivers ever. They are so stupid the can't even look out their rear view mirror to see someone waiting for them to pull the f... over in the fast lane. They can't merge or even park. They need to change the driving test!
Sep 7, 2011 2:44PM
BTW, the article says that "32,000 Americans are involved in traffic accidents every year."  Actually, there were 32,000 traffic DEATHS in the U.S. last year, not just accidents.
Sep 7, 2011 2:30PM
I live in the Baltimore/DC area (have for 20 yrs) and grew up in New York City.  I have to agree with this article.  Washington and Baltimore drivers are horrible.  Baltimore in particular, where I drive back and forth to work using several routes, have the worst driver etiquette I have ever seen anywhere.  Any move that you can imagine that is reckless and dangerous, is exhibited in these areas as a matter of course.  Agressive drivers....the norm here.  I have driven in third world countries whose drivers are more courteous.   I am not at all surprised.  Every rush hour there are numerous accidents on every major roadway, every day.    I wish it were not so.  
Sep 7, 2011 7:38PM

I couldn't agree with Idomyownstunts from Vegas more!

I have lived in California, Utah, and Florida, spent time in NYC and Chicago and I can tell you that NOWHERE are the drivers worse than Vegas.

They are the least courteous, rude, most prone to road rage of anyplace I have ever been.  Drivers in Vegas have the attitude that "I have to be ahead of you no matter what the cost and I don't care who I have to kill to get there.  Turn signals are used as often as windshield wipers are here.  Speed limits, especially in residential areas are totally disregarded.  50 is the average speed in 35 mph zones.

Vegas may not have as many accidents per capita as the top listed cities here but Vegas is definitely among the top when it comes to the worst drivers.  On the strip it's ever worse...Vacationers and Cabbies are LAWLESS

Sep 7, 2011 5:11PM

Let's not forget about the awesome metropolis that is Atlanta.  I think a city where the majority of residents watch NASCAR during the weekends and re-enact the races during the work week should at least merit an honorable mention.

Sep 7, 2011 1:27PM
Actually the East Coast has more people than the West coast. More people equals more accidents. Simple math, has nothing to do with who has the worst drivers. Besides people from the west move out east and vice versa everyday. We are one giant melting pot, no one is any better than the other.
Sep 7, 2011 6:57PM
You really need to be on the freeway in Las Vegas during rush hour to see prime time road rage at its finest. Probably got D.C. beat by ten car lengths.
Sep 7, 2011 1:53PM

As the article states: "For the past seven years, car insurer Allstate has looked at its claims data for the 200 largest U.S. cities to see which cities have the fewest car accidents per capita."


This means that they have already taken into account the population density not just the total number of accidents. A smaller population means you have less people to spread the accidents over, while a larger population would have more people to average the accidents over. So those that show up on this list have drivers that on average get into more accidents more often that other large cities period. Maybe Los Angeles and New York City don't show up since more people use public transportation but are still counted in the per capita average.

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