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Why Does Boston Have So Many Bad Drivers?11:09

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A 1934 car accident. (Courtesy Boston Public Library)closemore
A 1934 car accident. (Courtesy Boston Public Library)

Boston has some of the worst drivers in the country. That’s not just the stereotype, that’s the conclusion of a survey by Allstate Insurance Company, which released a list of the best and worst drivers in the country Tuesday.

Massachusetts was the biggest loser. Of the top 200 metropolitan areas in the U.S., Worcester came in dead last, edged out by Boston at 199 and Springfield only slightly better at 197.

Why do we have so many bad drivers here?

Guests

Dan Strollo, CEO of In Control Crash Prevention Training.

Highlights

On reacting to the results of the study:
Dan Strollo: "I don't have any trouble believing it at all. What's kind of interesting — if you look at the details they gave us on the study, the likelihood of getting into a crash if you live in Boston, compared to the national average, is 129 percent. So, we really are not doing ourselves any favors. And I think, we don't necessarily see the same loss of life as some states have, or urban areas, simply because of the traffic issues. We can't get up to enough speed, necessarily, to be doing as much harm...but we're crashing on a much more regular basis than a lot of other people."

On the mistakes drivers make in Boston:
DS: "I've lived in the Midwest, I've lived on the west coast. First and foremost, this really is a national issue, period. Because the United States used to be one of the safest places in the world to drive back 40 years ago — back in the 70s. Now, we're pretty consistently down at the bottom of that list, regularly. So, we just have to improve as a nation. But I think in Boston...it's a badge of honor to not use your blinker. It's the idea that you can just ride up behind somebody and stick there. For a long time, we were the number one in rear-end collisions and most of that's due to people just tailgating and not caring enough to give the safe distance, and it's never going to get you anywhere quicker, it's just something we tend to do."

On driving tests in America:
DS: "If you want to go watch a driving test for your average 16- to 18-year-old who's going through drivers ed, the drivers ed school may take the actual course pretty seriously and spend a lot of time working on things, but the test itself is three to five minutes of driving. Whereas, in other countries, it's an hour. They're actually forced to do things like put the car into a skid and prove they can regain control. Here, it might be a three-point turn or it might just be driving around the parking lot and come back and they're done. And I'm kind of making it out to be a little less than it is, but five minutes is about the maximum they're going to spend behind the wheel to prove that they're safe to be out on the roads with us. And then somewhere north of 50 percent of them crash in the first few years. That's not a good number."

On bad behavior breeding bad behavior:
DS: "It's a bit contagious. I mean, I'm not going to argue that point at all. And as you see more people not following the rules, other people tend to start to do the same thing. But it puts us at this incredible disadvantage — things like rotaries. Here, rotaries are this incredibly scary concept for a lot of people, but in other countries they're integrating them more into the roads because they're actually safer. If people followed the rules and knew the laws and yield to the people who are already in the rotary, it allows you not to have to stop. It reduces the number of people getting T-boned. There's all these huge benefits to it, but we just haven't gotten the concept down because we don't pay attention to the rules."

On seat belt usage in Massachusetts:
DS: "We were worst in the country two years ago. Then, last year, I think we ended up being — I think — 47th, not because we got any better but because three states got worse. So, again, we're supposed to be incredibly intelligent group of people, but we don't recognize the value seat belts brings, not just to keeping us from getting hurt but to keeping us in control of the vehicle in the first place."

More

Slate: Which U.S. City Has The Worst Drivers?

  • "Everyone who has ever set foot on an accelerator thinks they know where the worst drivers live, but they can’t all be right. I set out to determine which city’s drivers most deserve our steering-wheel slamming, bird-flipping frustration."

Forbes: Cities With The Best — And Worst — Drivers

  • "Auto safety is a two-way street, so to speak. No matter what kind of vehicle one drives and how prudent one is while operating it, the likelihood of getting into an accident often depends upon the carefulness or recklessness of other motorists."
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