I Suspected…

The Business Journal is covering a report by Allstate Insurance that ranks Portland’s drivers among the worst in the nation.

Given the spate of crashes with people walking and biking, not to mention a rash of driving into streetcars, I can’t help wonder if we’re getting worse…

13 responses to “I Suspected…”

  1. Perhaps the conscientious drivers among us are more likely to use alternate means of transportation, whereas unsafe driving often springs from hyper-individualistic attitudes and a lack of empathy for others–that may correlate with a hostility to more passive or communal ways of getting around.

    (In other words, the good drivers are spending less time driving…)

    A second explanation: Many drivers aren’t as well-trained about driving in environments where there are lots of small, hard-to-see objects (bikes, peds) around.

    A third explanation: Increased congestion and traffic calming, generally, lowers safe driving speeds–and perhaps some drivers haven’t made the shift. (Smeed’s Law in reverse). Allstate’s report appears to be based on the number of claims filed, as opposed to the severity of wrecks (for which value of claims might be a proxy)–in a high-congestion, low-speed environment I would expect to see a lot more fender-benders (or more serious accidents when a bike or pedestrian is involved), and a lot fewer high-speed, get-out-the-jaws-of-life type collisions.

  2. People around here don’t know how to drive because they are trying to live the dream of the 90’s instead of paying attention to the road

  3. They are looking at the wrong statistics. While collisions that cause property damage are annoying, the more important metric is injuries and deaths. The loss of human life and suffering should be our primary concern.

    I think the reason we top the collision list is that we are a denser, more urban environment. There is more traffic, so you are going to have more collisions. However, these collisions are generally at a lower speed, so the injury and death rates should be lower.


    Oregon is 33rd on this list, and more rural states are at the top. Where would you rather live?

  4. I think Allstate needs to travel more.

    Also: Eric is correct.

    Anecdotally they are a way high percentage of bonehead moves on the roads.

    I would be interested in seeing the breakdown of how many of those property damage claims are the fault of Washington drivers.

    It seems to me like they are the ones constantly at odds with everything else on the road.

  5. @ Eric +1.

    While admittedly, it’s anecdotal, my experience in walking and cycling around the Portland area is that if I’m involved in a close call, many times there’s a WA-plated vehicle involved.

  6. Per the study there are 40 cities with worse drivers than Portland (one of which is Seattle). In 9 of those cities the likelihood of accident is more than double what it is in Portland and one (Washington DC) is 4 times higher. We might be below average Chris, but we’re hardly among the worst.

    Also, I’d say any methodology that concludes Chicago drivers are safer than Portland drivers is manifestly flawed.

  7. Correction, the relativity of nine cities is more than double. That means the chance of an accident is at least 21% higher for those cities and more than 60% higher in the case of DC.

  8. Mrs Dibbly & I witnessed the aftermath of a car vs streetcar collision on SW 10th a few weeks ago. The SUV driver tried to pass the streetcar & make a right turn in front of it, just as the streetcar started to pull away from the stop. Score: streetcar 1, SUV 0.

  9. I’m surprised by these stats, Oregon drivers (from Portland to Ashland, and even most places between) seem much more polite and less reckless than those in California, Arizona, Washington, Texas or Florida – the states I have visited enough to form an opinion. And as mentioned above, Portland has a low rate of fatal crashes. Are Oregonians more likely to report minor collisions to their insurance, compared to drivers in other states?

    I know that in the 2 collisions I have been involved in, the other drivers (who were at fault) did not want their insurance notified. One probably did not have insurance, the other was driving a rental car (backed into my car) and paid cash for the damages. Both happened in California.

  10. I certainly see a lot of reckless driving all the time, and lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people blowing red lights that had been red for a while. Not long ago, a light that had been red at least eight or ten seconds was run by some car who missed a pedestrian by inches, not to mention a bus. I think it’s a combination of impatience and lack of consideration for others. They wouldn’t be behaving the way they do otherwise. Frankly, I hope gas gets more expensive and thus driving goes beyond the means of more people. I think many drivers got their licenses out of boxes of Cracker Jacks. Let’s face it, some people are not of the right temperament to operate a motor vehicle, and such people oughtn’t to be driving. I see evidence of this every single day. It can be very scary being a pedestrian in this town sometimes…

  11. I have noticed an increase in stale-red light running as well. It’s quite terrifying, and I would like to think that it is due to distracted driving, and not intentional disregard for the safety of others. On three occasions in the past year, I would have been seriously injured or killed by drivers blowing stale reds, had I not seen them coming. 2 incidents occurred at Sandy and NE 52nd, and one at Sandy and NE 190th.

    I wish the Portland Police would do more… policing of this behavior. Someone is going to be killed.

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