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Driver safety in the city goes down the wrong road, insurance ranking shows

Chicago drivers are 28.1% more likely to get into an accident than the average U.S. driver.

Slowed inbound and outbound Kennedy expressway traffic seen from River Road and the Kennedy.
Slowed inbound and outbound Kennedy expressway traffic seen from River Road and the Kennedy.
Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

We all think Chicago drivers are among the worst in the country, but just how bad are we really?

Definitely below average.

Chicago dropped four spots to 133rd out of 200 cities in a national report about the best drivers.

The ranking uses Allstate Insurance auto claims in the country’s 200 most populous cities to calculate the likelihood that drivers will experience a crash compared with the national average.

The average American driver will be in a crash every 10.57 years compared to Chicago’s 8.26 years, meaning Chicago drivers are 28.1 percent more likely to get into an accident than the average driver in the United States.

Brownsville, Texas, is home to the nation’s best drivers, according to the report, and Baltimore has the worst drivers.

Victor Alvia, the owner of Windy City Driving School, said the biggest problem he sees among his students and other Chicago drivers is making mistakes out of fear while driving. Construction zones increase that fear, leading to more crashes, he said.

On Tuesday, there were 97 active road construction sites in Cook County, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Alvia said he notices that Chicago drivers tend to be impatient, which can lead to more collisions. Additionally, he said, some driving tests in Chicago might not be weeding out the bad drivers because they’re too easy and don’t test the skills that make a safe driver.

Joseph Schofer, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University, said factors like Chicago’s harsh winters or heavy congestion can make driving conditions more dangerous. However, he said, it’s hard to tell why Chicago might be so low on the list based on the current study.

If Chicagoans want to move up in the ranks next year, there are a few things to work on to become safer drivers, according to Allstate.

  • Keep your eyes on the road and get rid of any distractions that might get in the way of your driving.
  • Obey traffic laws.
  • Use a car’s safety features like turn signals and headlights.
  • Make sure you stick to the speed limit by giving yourself enough time to get where you’re going.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Leave enough distance between your car and other vehicles.
  • Never drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Read the full report below: