In its latest resifting of data, Allstate factored in population density and compared cities to their surrounding suburbs and recalculated.
You guessed it: D.C. = 197.
On top is Madison, Wisc. Even New York City didn’t look so bad (No. 4) once population density was figured in. We seem to like it near the bottom, however, because D.C. was in the exact same spot overall in 2015, too.
Also not a surprise: Washington had more frequent auto insurance claims than its surrounding suburbs because, in general, densely trafficked urban streets become bumper car pavilions more often than those in suburbs with wider, less traveled roadways (although those broad, high-speed arteries can be particularly deadly for pedestrians).
Is it that Washington is filled with so many transient people who don’t know where they’re going? Or that the city was designed by a Frenchman who favored style over practicality? Or that everybody’s so important around here that no one can put down the phone?
The insurer’s 2016 Best Drivers Report — which was issued in June and updated with population density and suburban data late last month — also offers a sort of report card on a region’s drivers based on how often they slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. The data come from the insurer’s Drivewise program, which uses telemetry to monitor drivers on the road. By downloading the app onto a smartphone, participating drivers can reduce the cost of insurance by demonstrating that they are safe drivers. The insurer defines “hard-braking” as a rapid stop that slows a vehicle 8 miles per hour or more per second. Besides hard-braking, the program monitors speed and time of day.
D.C. drivers had an average of 17 hard-braking events per 1,000 miles driven — slightly better for the city proper than its metropolitan area, which had a rate of 17.9. The report does not rank the 200 cities in terms of hard-braking rates, but D.C. and its suburbs fared better than New York City (25.6), Baltimore (21.6), or Detroit (21.1). Hialeah, Fla., of all places, had a rate of 24.4. Is it the race track there?
Allstate, which handles about 10 percent of the auto insurance market in the United States, says its annual ranking is designed to initiate a conversation about safe driving. A spokeswoman said it’s also sort of an attaboy or attagirl to drivers in those top-rated towns (and was a bit coy about how these rankings correlate to relative insurance rates).
“If you city is ranked a bit lower, we encourage the drivers to refocus,” Allstate spokeswoman Karen May said.