Getting from one place to another means driving, at least for millions of Americans. We live in small towns and suburbs of major metropolitan cities, or have to commute from one side of the city to the other to our jobs, school, to visit family or friends or run errands. Clogged streets and freeways, distracted driving, traffic signals out of sync, unhinged behavior behind the wheel – all this contributes to a growing dissatisfaction and much less safety with driving.
This is especially true if you live in, drive in or around one of the most dangerous cities for drivers. The Safest and Most Dangerous Cities for Drivers is an annual compilation from NerdWallet, a financial analytics website. On this year’s list, the top 10 most dangerous cities are:
- Detroit, Michigan
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- San Bernardino, California
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Atlanta, Georgia
- New Haven, Connecticut
- Dallas, Texas
- Worcester, Massachusetts
- Fatal accident rates – using data from the 2014 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the 2014 population figures from the S. Census Bureau.
- Accident likelihood and number of years between accidents – from the 2015 Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report.
- Auto larceny and motor vehicle theft risk ratings – determined from NeighborhoodScout’s proprietary data.
- Average annual auto insurance rates – from NerdWallet.
What the Analysis Found
Key takeaways from the NerdWallet analysis of 196 American cities (four were excluded due to missing data for motor vehicle theft and auto larceny) are:
- Large cities tend to be the most dangerous,
- There are higher risks for drivers in cities in the South and East Coast,
- It’s more expensive to insure cars in the country’s most dangerous cities (47 percent higher).
What Drivers Can Do to Deal with Driving in the Most Dangerous Cities
Short of moving out of a dangerous city, what can you do to effectively deal with driving in one? Some of the strategies may include utilizing one or more of the following:
Try telecommuting. If you go to an office every day, you might think that you have to continue this work pattern. Why not ask your boss if you can telecommute one or two days a week? You’ll have to be persuasive if this has never been done before in your workplace, as some employers may not want to alter what’s been working for years. Suggest a trial period so you can demonstrate your productivity. If you can show that you working from home can contribute to the company’s bottom line, you might win this argument.
Go in early, stay later. There are driving patterns each day when the roads and freeways are most congested. This happens morning and evening five days a week, guaranteed. Factor in bad weather and it gets even worse. The more vehicles on the road, the greater the risk of getting involved in an accident. An effective strategy here is to make your morning and evening commute at hours other than peak. This may mean you get up an hour earlier and put in a little more time on the back end at work, but the tradeoff in terms of your sanity and safety may be well worth the effort.
Use an alternate route to/from work, school or other driving destinations. If you’ve typically used a single route to get to and from work, go to and return from school, drive to your errands and regular destinations, take some time to map out different routes you can take and still accomplish the task. Use MapQuest, your car’s navigation system or ask friends, neighbors or co-workers the routes they’ve found to be the fastest and/or least congested. Besides, if there’s a major accident or road construction delays, it pays to know ahead of time another way you can use. In addition, taking a different route will help keep you safer (less traffic, less impatient drivers willing to take chances, etc.) and make for a less stressful commute.
Get on the bus, train or subway – or carpool. The next time you’re on the freeway, take a look at how many vehicles have a single driver and no passengers around you. The numbers are likely to be quite staggering. Instead of contributing to that mass of single-occupant vehicles, consider not driving at all. If feasible, use alternate transportation: bus, train or subway. If a vehicle is the only way to get where you’re going, see if you can join a carpool or ride-sharing vehicle. Again, fewer vehicles on the road is one of the best ways to ensure overall safety.
Consider a job change. While not as out of the question for most people as moving to another city or town, another way to cope with driving in the country’s most dangerous cities is to consider changing jobs. See if you can find one that’s closer to where you live. Better yet, if you can freelance from home and don’t mind being your own boss (with all the perks and disadvantages that brings), you won’t have to drive at all to get to work. Think of it this way: If you’re not on the road, you can’t be involved in an accident, have your car stolen or broken into while you’re at work, and so on.