Arlington Drivers Not as Accident-Prone as D.C. Drivers

by ARLnow.com September 1, 2011 at 11:29 am 4,154 62 Comments

Arlington may be the safest city in the U.S. when it comes to traffic fatalities, but we’re also some of the most accident-prone drivers in the country, according to new data from Allstate Insurance. The good news: we’re less accident-prone than drivers in Alexandria, Baltimore and the District.

Arlington ranks 180 out of 193 cities in Allstate’s “Best Driver” rankings. That’s a downgrade compared to last year, when Arlington drivers ranked 174th. According to the latest data, drivers in Arlington go an average of 6.8 years between accidents.

By comparison, drivers in the safest city on the list — Fort Collins, Colo. — go an average of 14 years between accidents.

The District ranked dead last on the list, at 193rd, thanks to an average of only 4.8 years between accidents. Baltimore was the second worst, at 192nd. Alexandria ranked 184th.

File photo

  • Frivolous

    Tourist and Maryland

  • Maryland drivers are the worst, with the possible exception of drivers from PA.

    • Cate

      I really can’t believe how awful they are. I’m from Massachusetts so I’m used to crazy drivers, but Maryland drivers are a million times worse. I didn’t think it was possible, but…

      • E-Ross

        totally agree, and I have to drive in MD to work daily… they’re no better in Maryland than they are in VA or DC.

    • BoredHouseWife

      They always have been, at least since the 60’s.

  • brad

    Traffic causes accidents but keeps us at a safe speed.

    • SomeGuy

      Brad, you probably just made the most insightful comment that’ll appear in this post. The rest will be purely anecdotal about a terrible driver from another state or just vague generalized bickering about drivers from other states (e.g., “Dude, all Maryland drivers are the worst! I just saw one do something stupid yesterday!!”).

    • Garden City

      When I moved here from Birmingham, my insurance rates dropped in half. My agent said most of what happens here are fender benders. “They’re not dangerous because they can’t get up any speed.”

  • Bluemontsince1961

    I’ve lost count of the number of near misses I’ve experienced in the past couple of years in Arlington and all over Northern Virginia with:

    1) Cab drivers (especially DC cabs)
    2) Folks with the cell phone glued to their ears while driving
    3) Folks monkeying around with their blackberries/i-pods, etc., etc. while driving
    4) Loudoun County commuter buses
    5) Richard Petty wannabes coming up behind me like a bat out of hell and passing like an F-18 being catapulting off a carrier
    6) Folks not using their turn signals
    7) Folks that wait until the absolute last minute to merge when the merge lane runs out – and there is hardly any traffic blocking them

    I’d hate to think was DC drivers are like.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      Yes! Those LC connector buses are horrible!

      • JamesE

        they also squat in the left lane of 66, good god that pisses me off so much.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Exactly, JamesE! I notice they tend to drift back and forth across the lines, too. One of them nearly broadsided me on 267 East a month ago when I was driving back to Arlington from where I work in McLean. I’ve noticed also that their buses are pretty smokey, so maybe their buses are old or poorly maintained.

          • shirley

            i noticed a loudoun bus idles on Glebe Road at South 12th Street for 30 minutes during rush hour.

            PW ones suck too. They sit in the left lane of 395 going 55 mph on the back to home trip. clogs it all up.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            Shirley, that’s exactly what the LC buses do on 267 and 66; backing traffic up so people get frustrated and pass on the right, and then the bus starts drifting over the line into the lane. That’s what happened to me about a month ago. I leaned on the horn and the idiot bus driver apparently woke back up and moved back over to his side of the line. I haven’t commuted down 395 in a long time, but office colleagues that do tell the same stories as you about the PW commuter buses.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      btw, I have noticed that Red Top Cab’s generally drive very well.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Red Top cabs are the exception, most of them drive very well. DC cabs on 267 or 66……kamikazes.

      • jan

        I agree! I even call them from National airport rather than throw the dice with cabs in the line.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Jan, I do the same when I’ve arrived at National. I’d rather call Red Top and wait a few minutes.

    • KARLington

      dear husband…is that you?

      He rants constantly about #4 and #7.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        No, you have the wrong person. But I must not be the only person that finds #4 and #7 aggravating.

    • Cate

      I’ve seen a disturbing number of people with headphones on while driving. I can’t believe anyone would actually think that’s a remotely good idea.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Way back when, the cops would have pulled over someone driving with headphones. That was definitely a big NOT when driving. Times have changed; probably these days, a headphone wearing driver would only get cited if they got in an accident.

  • ClizzleDizzle

    Maryland drivers are the devil. VA drivers can be fast and rude, at least they have a sense of self preservation. Whenever I see an SUV with an MD tag on the 66 or toll road, I shudder. I understand that you do not value your life as parking attendant, housekeeper or professional thug very much, but I do mine!

    Although it must be said that people generally drive better on the toll road. I think there’s an argument for driving to be made much more expensive: quieter roads, less crappy drivers.

  • charlie

    every accident I have been in has been with someone from Maryland or someone who doesn’t speak English — another downside to our failed battle on illegal immigration and secession from the Union.
    I will bet people $100 if a car flying down the road like a bat out of hell is a over-equipped Japanese car (Maxima) with MD tags…
    we need to close that border again.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      I got rear ended the other day by a really hot chick with VA tags driving a brand-new BMW. I felt really bad for her though, it was her first day at her job and she was very hyper.

      • JamesE

        was it leased??

      • Z

        Don’t worry, her father/husband will foot the bill.

    • Smilla

      “secession from the Union.” Wha–?

      Are you blaming bad driving on the Civil War? Was the “failed” also supposed to apply to “secession” (in which case, you’d probably prefer, “The War Between the States” or the “War of Northern Aggression”)? Seriously?

      • drax

        I don’t even bother trying to get people like charlie any more. I just let them mumble.

        • charlie

          good. ten down, twenty more to go.

      • charlie

        well if we had been successful then we could put up a gate — the hell with interstate travel and having to accept MD drivers who come thru Virginia to get to their jobs in DC because the MD road suck and they can’t speed recklessly…

  • JimPB

    What have been the average times between accidents by year for Arlington drivers? This would enable seeing whether the time is relatively stable or if there is a trend.

    Any “break down” of the time between accidents for groups, e.g., seniors, adolescents, young adults, SES and racial/ethic groups.

    The police used to and likely still to collect and report data about the circumstances of accidents, e.g., the weather, road conditions, DWI, vehicles involved, driver characteristics. Insurance companies use some of this kind of data in setting premiums to cover claims and their operating costs (and profit). What are the implications for reducing accidents in such data?

    • Glebe Roader

      I’ll get right on this and I’ll have your requested detailed analysis on your desk by 5pm.

  • Vinh An Nguyen

    It’s hard to believe MD drivers aren’t at the bottom of the list..

    • SaveDaveMcKenna

      Anecdotal evidence shows that crotchrocket gangs are more prevalent in Maryland than Virginia.

  • bob

    So, give the low number of miles most arlington drivers clock up — something like 7000 a year — you can see how bad drivers are here.

  • Richard Cranium

    Next they need to release data on bank robberies per capita!

  • Vik

    I drive some, but also walk a lot. Maryland drivers are the most prone, in the area IMO, to drive as fast as they can, sometimes accelerating, without hitting you if you’re crossing the street legally at a crosswalk.

  • Dave

    I think a big problem is that in this area, we have drivers from not only all over the country, but the world. Every place has its own driving style that isn’t going to mesh well with others, and our area is so transient that no one knows what to expect from other drivers. DC has no one “way” to drive. I grew up around here so I just expect craziness/bad drivers and just deal with it.

    And I agree with others, those Loudoun County buses are the WORST.

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    It is my opinion that a good portion of bad driving in our area is based more on the fact that you have drivers from so many different locales vs. their inherent driving skills. The idea being that this area is a conglomeration of drivers from all over the country (and world) coming to live, work, and thus drive in our area. Every locale you visit has a different rhythm and style to their driving and traffic flow. If you live there, its instinctual. When you come to a new place to drive you are driving on the ingrained skills you have from home… not where you are now. It takes time and effort to adjust to new conditions… and most people don’t even consider this.

    Alas, there are just bad, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and rushed (i.e. “my appointment is more important than yours”) drivers on the road as well. As density increases, so will the hectic nature of our roads also increase. Can you fix these issues? Not easily. Can we all be more patient and aware of what is around us instead of just what’s in front of us? Yeah, we can.

  • I got that PMA

    DC Drivers, MD Drivers, Mini Vans and Cab drivers. I don’t think people know how to use a turn signal anymore.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      In this area, I wonder if many people’s reactions are:

      1) Turn signal? What’s that?
      2) Turn signal? I don’t neeeeeed to stinkin’ turn signal!
      3) That funny looking stalk on the left side of the steering column is some kind of interior automotive decoration.

      • drax

        Yes. Turn signal use rate is about 30% around here. Dolts.

  • BoredHouseWife

    you really must drive defensively here.

    my biggest complaints:
    1. tailgaters that are so close to your rear that they could hitch.
    2. left lane vigilantes
    3. those who like to hover in my blind spot.
    4. those who furiously text while on 66, with their eyes focused solely on the phone. be stupid when you are alone plz.

    • JamesE

      Left lane vigilantes are the worst. It is law to yield to faster traffic even if said traffic is speeding.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Exactly, JamesE. They only frustrate drivers behind them into doing even crazier and rash things.

      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        I would like to see the reference for that…I am having a hard time picturing a law that says that you must yield to people breaking the law.

        • Thes

          Virginia code:

          § 46.2-842.1. Drivers to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highways.

          It shall be unlawful to fail to give way to overtaking traffic when driving a motor vehicle to the left and abreast of another motor vehicle on a divided highway. On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right to allow the overtaking vehicle to pass as soon as the overtaken vehicle can safely do so. A violation of this section shall not be construed as negligence per se in any civil action.

          • Thes

            (You can see there is no exception if the vehicle being overtaken is already going the speed limit.)

          • CW

            I’ve seen this before, and it always reads somewhat oddly (though not as oddly as the paradoxical and circular pedestrian/crosswalk language). While the language of the code is quite clear, it almost seems like the statutory language was directed at police vehicles. “Audible or light signal” – are they really suggesting that people blow their horns or flash their lights at another driver? This is usually, in the context of the letter of the law, a no-no.

            Moreover, I don’t understand the context of this piece of the code. It has that last sentence built in basically saying that you can’t be found negligent in a civil action for ignoring it. So are there criminal or other penalties associated somewhere else in the code? Absent this, what incentive is there for anyone to follow it?

        • drax
    • Bluemontsince1961

      You said it, BoredHouseWife.

  • they’re lost

    Did you ever consider the fact that Maryland drivers might be getting lost when they are unfortunate enough to have to drive on our tangled confusing sorry overwhelmed underdesigned outdated annoying NoVa road system? Just like we suburban VA drivers are in MD — or DC — on their equally awful roads. So maybe next time you get ready to unleash your road rage on a Md driver, take a deep breath, realize they are probably trying to figure out where to go, ease off the gas a little, and give them plenty of space. If everyone calmed down there would be fewer accidents.

    • CW

      Ohhh, so they’re lost! The perfectly explains the whole “going 25 mph over the speed limit then slamming on the brakes, speeding up when approaching crosswalks with pedestrians in them, ignoring traffic control devices, broken cars with mufflers dragging on the ground, instant lane changes, high on crack, tailgating, running over curbs” part. Makes perfect sense.

      • Rick James

        Cocaine’s a helluva drug!

      • they’re lost

        Probably explains it better than ascribing driving habits to an entire state’s population, especially since every place I’ve ever lived that’s near a state line, people always say, “oh, drivers from FILL-IN-THE-BLANK STATE” are the worst ever.

        What, pray tell, is in the water in Md that makes them do all the things you profess above? Wait! They drink the same water we do!

        • Hattie McDaniel

          It ain’t the water, it’s the malt liquor.

        • Richard Cranium

          I propose that we use the money currently funding the Artisfail to instead pay for a study to answer the question you pose: What exactly is it that makes Md drivers soooo bad?

          • they’re lost

            they’re driven crazy by virginia drivers

    • Bob32

      That is BS. They are not lost. I drive down GW Parkway every day to the Mt Vernon area. And every day, I am passed at about 70 or higher by MD drivers. Every time, it’s someone from MD. Usually in a giant American-made SUV. Much of the time, they drift back into the right lane without signaling.

      They clearly aren’t lost, because there GW is a long, straight road that only goes to about two places (Mt. V and Ft Belvoir).

  • Matt B

    Maryland drivers can’t merge… Virginia drivers don’t know what a yield sign is…. and DC drivers have no concept of how highways work.

  • Roquer

    strict enforcement, and more suspended driver’s licenses would be a good start.


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