The dangers of driving in the District of Columbia are legendary. Each year, Allstate releases the Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report, which is based on claims for that insurance company, and ranks the 200 largest cities in the U.S. in terms of how frequently drivers get into collisions. The national average frequency for car accidents is once every ten years. In 2015, Washington, D.C. ranked 197 out of 200 with D.C. drivers getting into auto accidents every 4.8 years. Kansas City, Kansas won the top spot in the report with residents getting into collisions once every 13.3 years.
The D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) crash report figures show that 36,446 vehicles were involved with 18,428 collisions with 19 of those being fatal and 5,258 causing bodily injury in 2012. The number of fatalities is down from 32 in 2011, but the number of injuries is up from 5,210 the year before.
Personal finance website Wallet Hub.com ranks states according to how risky they are on drivers’ wallets, and the District of Columbia ranked 22 out of 50 with 11.9 percent of drivers who drive without auto insurance.
So, yes, drivers take their lives in their hands when they drive inside the beltway, but given the fact that the majority of auto accidents are caused by driver error, there are lots of ways in which you can make sure that you are driving as safely as possible:
- Curb your road rage. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that aggressive driving, which includes speeding, tailgating, driving slowly in the passing lane and other actions, accounts for more than half of all fatal crashes.
- Stash your mobile phone. Distracted driving has eclipsed drunk driving as a cause of traffic accidents. Place your phone in your purse or briefcase or in a location where it will not be within reach while you are driving.
- Do not drive drowsy. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. People who would never consider driving drunk might get behind the wheel despite feeling sleepy or groggy. The AAA Foundation estimates that drowsy driving plays a role in approximately 328,000 auto accidents annually in the United States. If you feel sleepy when you are driving either stop and get coffee or pull over in a safe place and take a quick nap. Also, be aware of the effect that sleep medications have on your alert level. Make sure that the effects have worn off before you get behind the wheel.
- Slow down. Make sure to allow plenty of time to get wherever you are going so that you do not feel the urge to speed.
- Use caution when changing lanes. If you change lanes too quickly, or cut in front of another driver you can cause an accident or anger other drivers. Use caution and courtesy when changing lanes in the neighborhoods and on the highways.
Additional ways you can avoid causing an accident is make sure that you keep your vehicle in top operating shape. Broken tail lights, faulty brakes and steering malfunctions also contribute to traffic accidents. When it comes to lowering the number of traffic accidents, every driver has a vital role to play.