Seattle drivers are accident prone, new study says

Seattle drivers are far from the nation’s safest behind the wheel, according to an annual report from Allstate Insurance Company. And they’re getting worse. Among the nation’s 200 largest cities, Seattle drivers ranked 154th in terms of their risk for a collision. Seattle drivers average one crash every 7.9 years, which is 27 percent more likely than the national average.

Seattle also slid seven spots from its 147th-safest driving city rank in the 2011 report, when Emerald City drivers had one crash every eight years. In 2009, they had one crash every 8.3 years.

The report is based on two years of Allstate claims data and ranks cities in terms of the frequency of crashes.

Sioux Falls in South Dakota earned top honors as “America’s Safest Driving City,” the fifth time the city has held the top spot. This was the eighth year that All State has published the report. Tucson, Ariz., had the best drivers among cities with 500,000 to 749,000 population, with drivers 16 percent less likely to get in a crash than the national average. Portland had a slightly better average than Seattle-one collision every 8 years. That put Portland at 151st. Spokane ranked 43rd, with one collision every 10 ½ years.

Seattle drivers can take some solace. The streets in Seattle are safer than in the nation’s capital, where D.C. drivers had the worst ranking with an average of one crash every 4.7 years-112 percent worse than the national average.

These crashes lead to an average of 26 traffic fatalities per year in the city. In response, Mayor Mike McGinn announced Wednesday a campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2030. The announcement was made across the street from PATH, the global-health organization where cyclist Michael Wang worked and commuted by bike from his Shoreline home before he was killed by a hit-and-run-driver a year ago.

Of the average 26 traffic fatalities in the city per year, 11 of those are pedestrians and two are bicyclists. Last year, four bicyclists were killed. Ten times as many people are seriously injured in crashes. The leading causes of traffic crashes are impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding.

The Seattle Department of Transportation will spend about $100,000 on the road-safety campaign. An additional $410,000 the city has secured in grants will go toward education and enforcement through 2014. The Seattle Police Department plans four safe-driving patrols in September and October on Capitol Hill and in Rainier Valley in areas with speeding problems. The city also will install four new traffic cameras to enforce speed zones around schools.