Why Does Boston Have So Many Bad Drivers?

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

Boston has 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.

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

Why do we have so many bad drivers here?

This conversation originally aired on Aug. 27, 2014


Dan Strollo, CEO of In Control Crash Prevention Training.


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'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 No. 1 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."


Forbes: Where To Find The Nation's Best — And Worst — Drivers

  • "The metro area that’s home to the most dangerous drivers in America is Boston, MA, where motorists are 157.7% more likely than the norm to get in a crash, with an average frequency of one incident every 3.3 years. In fact, of the 10 cities where drivers tend to get in the most wrecks, seven are snuggled away in Northeastern states and the District of Columbia, with the other three situated in traffic-clogged California, including those havens for safe and sane driving, San Francisco and Los Angeles."

This segment aired on September 2, 2015.


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