We joke about it all the time: just how bad the drivers are in Boston and eastern Massachusetts. Older drivers sometimes comment that stop signs are simply suggestions, or point out that right-of-way is determined by which driver’s car is worth the least. The long-standing insult for Bay State drivers used by those from out of state—“Massholes”—has been adopted as a term of endearment by some residents to describe their own driving.
But now, at least one insurance company has reviewed the information in their claims database and come to a conclusion using that evidence: Boston drivers really may be the worst in the country.
Since at least 2007, Allstate, one of the country’s largest auto insurers, has produced its “America’s Best Drivers” report. The report looks at claims data from Allstate customers in the 200 largest cities in the United States to determine which areas were the safest for drivers in the previous year. For these rankings, Allstate defines “safest” as the average length of time that a driver who lives in that location will go between motor vehicle collisions. Nationwide, the average between collisions for all drivers is about ten years.
This year’s report places Brownsville, Texas, at the top of the list, with an average of 14.6 years between collisions. Anchorage, Alaska, received a special mention for showing the most improvement since the previous year, moving up fifty-eight places to rank as the sixty-ninth safest city. Boise, Idaho, was cited as noteworthy over time, succeeding in earning a spot among the ten safest cities eight years running. On a similar note, Colorado was commended for making the top ten more often than any other state since the report was launched (although this year the best it could do was a seventeenth place ranking for Fort Collins).
Boston claimed the title for worst with a paltry 3.7 year average between crashes and a crash likelihood more than 167 percent above the national average. That placed it 200th out of 200, but the rankings aren’t good for the rest of Massachusetts and southern New England, either: Worcester (199th) was ranked just behind, while Springfield (196th) and Providence (194th) joined Boston in the bottom ten. New Haven (190th) and Bridgeport (185th) also landed in the bottom twenty.
It’s easy enough to find fault with Allstate’s rankings. After all, they were generated by looking only at claims data from their own customers who agreed to let Allstate track them through its Drivewise telematics program. The picture could be skewed because Massachusetts drivers might choose to file claims for minor accidents more frequently than in other regions, for example. Things also can’t really be as bad for Massachusetts drivers as the rankings suggest, since the latest industry data show that Massachusetts is the only state sitting at exactly the national average ($1,325) for auto insurance premiums.
Even if the rankings don’t give a complete picture of what’s really going on, the overall seriousness of the issue can’t be denied. Traffic fatalities were up in 2015, with the biggest rate increase in more than fifty years. Even as overall vehicle safety continues to improve, driver behavior isn’t keeping pace. Distracted driving is increasingly a factor in serious crashes. All drivers need to be sure to keep their guard up and drive defensively, especially at this time of year. We’re now smack in the middle of what auto safety researchers consider the one hundred deadliest days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day during which traffic fatalities often increase significantly.
No matter how well you look out for your own safety and that of others when you’re behind the wheel, you can’t protect yourself from every possibility. If we take the Allstate rankings seriously, the problem faced by most Boston area drivers isn’t if they’ll be in an automobile crash, but when. If you find yourself the victim of a crash, turn to a practice with a solid understanding of Massachusetts automobile accident law. At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, we know how to help. Give us a call at 1-800-660-2270 for a free consultation to discuss your case, or contact us online by submitting the form at the bottom of this page.