“Best” or “worst” lists are often dubious propositions; though they are entertaining, most of the time, they're little more than non-expert opinion compilations.
But they're potentially enlightening when bolstered by something objective, like statistics. Such is the case with the notion of which American cities have the “safest” or “worst” drivers, which analysis of insurance claims city by city can illuminate.
The Worst of The Worst
California could have made a better showing in these rankings. The Golden State managed the unenviable feat of having two of its cities crack the top five worst overall drivers in the U.S. They're the only state with multiple entries in the top five of either list.
Out of the 70 U.S. cities used to collect data for these rankings, Fresno consistently appears in the top 10 for DUIs and ranks 11th in overall driving citations. There may be some solace in how Fresno has improved, though; they used to be third overall in the U.S. for DUI rankings, but now they're only seventh.
California's other not-so-golden city in these rankings is Riverside, which cracks the top five for DUIs and overall accident rankings. Curiously, Riverside's speeding violations are much lower, though by no means excellent, 33rd out of 70 in the nation.
This data suggests that there's not necessarily a correlation between speeding violations, overall accident rates, and DUIs. Or at least law enforcement there has devised more effective methods for deterring drivers from speeding.
According to the statistics, professional racing stronghold Indianapolis, Indiana, is filled with drivers who think they're pros, yet they must possess professional driver skills or razor-sharp judgment. They rank 17th or higher in every category.
Dayton, Ohio, which has reportedly seen the highway patrol crackdown on speeding significantly, ranks as one of the top three worst cities in the country for speeding violations. Dayton's DUI and overall accident rates are much less severe, ranking 18th and 33rd in the U.S., respectively. So those speeding numbers are the main reason they’re classified as the second worst driving city in America overall.
Taking the crown as the worst-driving city in the U.S. is Virginia Beach, Virginia, which ranks within the top third percentile of each of the four driving statics: DUIs, speeding, accidents, and citations. They ranked highest in overall citations at fifth in the nation overall.
The Best of The Best
Showing astounding improvement over last year – when it had the most accidents of any city in the country and its drivers ranked as the third-worst overall in the U.S. is Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which now ranks as the city with the fifth safest drivers in America overall.
Hartford, Connecticut, is the city with the lowest DUI totals. They're also the second lowest in overall traffic citations. Surprisingly, they are in the top 50 for speeding violations, ranking 42nd overall.
Going by the metrics, Louisville, Kentucky, lands on the podium for having some of the safest overall drivers in the country. They rank in the top 10 for the four previously mentioned statistics and place 69th out of 70 cities for the second-lowest total in the country for driving citations.
Taking silver is Little Rock, Arkansas. Regarding driving citations, drivers in Little Rock get fewer per year than any other U.S. city. They also have the second lowest DUI and accident totals of any American city. Curiously, they almost broke the top 50 for speeding violations, coming in at 53rd overall.
And The Winner Is…
Detroit, Michigan. Yes, that is correct; according to insurance statistics, the Motor City has the safest drivers of any city in the U.S. This is likely due to its low number of yearly driving citations, having the 5th lowest number of them nationwide. They also have the lowest number of reported accidents in America. Regarding speeding tickets, Detroit has the second-lowest tally of any city in the country.
Here's where the narrative of Detroit having the safest drivers in America takes a sudden turn; insurance statistics only account for what is reported – not everything that happens. For example, the Motor City has incredibly high driving insurance rates, so many accidents likely go unreported.
So, in the end, this list did reveal something enlightening – statistics sometimes tell only some of the story.
- Expertise: automotive news, dramatic writing & cinema.
- Education: San Francisco State University, B.A. Cinema Production (2013), San Francisco State University, M.F.A. Creative Writing (2021).
- Feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for professional play development at Z Space in San Francisco.
- Over 1,000 automotive news articles have been published on the web.
Jarret Hendrickson is a writer. He got his start when he was accepted into San Francisco State University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in 2018. While earning his degree, his short plays, The Captain (2019) & Fight Night (2020), were performed at San Francisco State University's annual Fringe Festival. His feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for the 2020 Greenhouse Professional Play Development Workshop at Z Space in San Francisco. While studying dramatic writing and screenwriting, he concluded that Se7en is the perfect modern screenplay. He received his MFA in the fall of 2021. In addition to his interest in writing and movies, Jarret also has a long-standing interest in automotive news, which dates back to his picking up a copy of MotorTrend when he was ten. His interest in all things automotive really blossomed at age 15 when he test-drove the 1994 Volvo SE that would accompany him for the next decade. His ongoing interest in cars helped him secure his first freelance writing job when he was hired to cover automotive news for axeladdict.com, where over 1,000 of his articles were published. You can find him on X (the social media platform formally known as Twitter) @jarrethsfpa and on Linkedin. Jarret currently covers the daily ebb and flow of the automotive industry for Wealth of Geeks.