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According to the 2009 Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report™ released earlier in July, Philadelphia ranks with the most dangerous of big cities to drive in, with drivers having a 57.1% greater chance of getting into an accident than the national average.

Having just moved out of Philadelphia, I can attest to its dangerousness, particularly for pedestrians interested in crossing neighborhood streets. The cars blow through stop signs and drivers get annoyed (if not irate) if you try to walk out into a crosswalk in front of them. Sometimes, they don’t slow down; they just drive around you.

Philly city planner Rick Shnitzler, hyper-vigilant ever since his 16-year-old daughter got her learner’s permit, gave The Philadelphia Inquirerhis personal account of 100 drivers who went through the stop sign at the intersection of 20th and Hamilton in Franklintown.

One of every seven drivers was on the phone. That’s just one of the distractions he jotted down.

There was the woman eating takeout with a fork, an act that required two hands.

A guy (he thinks) driving with a Chihuahua on his lap.

A Paratransit driver filling out some sort of log as he drove.

Some guy reading a paperback.

And then Shnitzler’s favorite – the woman who applied her eyeliner as a very elderly couple navigated the crosswalk in front of her. She stayed there until her job was done, a full minute, as cars idled behind her. –Daniel Rubin, The Philadelphia Inquirer

It’s so true. No wonder the auto insurance in Philly (thank you, Allstate and others) is through the roof.

The city recently made it illegal to talk on the phone while driving, but the $150 fines ($300 for repeat offenses) won’t be enforced until November 2009.

How did other cities fare in Allstate’s report? Here are their top ten safest driving cities:

City & Overall Ranking

Collision Likelihood
Compared to National

Average Years
Between Collisions

1. Sioux Falls, S.D.

-26.1% less likely


2. Fort Collins, Colo.

-24.6% less likely


3. Chattanooga, Tenn.

-21.4% less likely


4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

-20.7% less likely


5. Knoxville, Tenn.

-19.0% less likely


6. Fort Wayne, Ind.

-18.4% less likely


7. Lexington-Fayette, Ky.

-17.7% less likely


8. Eugene, Ore.

-16.3% less likely


9. Boise, Idaho

-15.4% less likely


10. Colorado Springs, Colo.

-15.0% less likely


Allstate 2009 data

Big cities, not too surprisingly, fared worse than smaller ones:

City & Overall Ranking

Collision Likelihood
Compared to National

Average Years
Between Collisions

95. Phoenix, Ariz.

8.8% more likely


108. San Diego, Calif.

13.0% more likely


145. New York, N.Y.

25.5% more likely


161. Houston, Texas

32.0% more likely


168. San Antonio, Texas

36.3% more likely


170. Chicago, Ill.

37.6% more likely


173. Dallas, Texas

39.5% more likely


184. Los Angeles, Calif.

46.6% more likely


188. Philadelphia, Pa.

57.1% more likely


Allstate 2009 data

When you drive, please don’t talk on the phone, and don’t send text messages. Wear your seat belt, and don’t eat while driving. And as cute as you might think it is, don’t let your dog sit on your lap while you drive. Instead, get a doggie seat belt for the back seat. Not only do seat belts keep your dog from barging up front, they will keep him from crashing into the windshield if you have an accident.

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