Cheapest Auto Insurance Analysis
Cost of Car Insurance
Car Insurance Company Reviews
Best Car Insurances
What Does Car Insurance Cover?
Auto Insurance Guides

2016 Safest Cities to Drive in the U.S.

by Douglas Burger

If you were to ask 10 people about what makes a good driver, you would probably come away with 10 different answers. We went a different route and asked what makes a city a good and safe place to drive. Using 18 data points detailed below, we searched for the answer.

Here is how 166 cities with qualifying data stacked up in the five separate categories we studied. In all rankings below, a lower number is better than a higher number.

Overall Rank City Quality of Roads Impaired Driving Passenger Safety Ease of Commute Costs of Driving
1 Rochester, MN 47 47 1 11 9
2 Duluth, MN 72 47 1 41 21
3 Lynchburg, VA 103 25 46 47 1
4 Springfield, IL 89 57 24 27 25
5 Binghamton, NY 162 2 16 30 29
6 Roanoke, VA 106 25 46 62 2
7 Peoria, IL 94 57 24 55 22
8 Medford, OR 66 21 42 16 108
9 Pocatello, ID 62 63 84 12 36
10 Flagstaff, AZ 19 76 89 13 67
11 Richmond, VA 89 25 46 102 3
12 Sioux City, IA 107 82 64 7 7
13 Lewiston, ID 68 63 84 6 46
14 Waterloo, IA 113 82 64 3 8
15 Walla Walla, WA 109 30 5 1 126
16 Syracuse, NY 165 2 16 61 30
17 La Crosse, WI 98 114 38 20 5
18 Grand Junction, CO 63 41 70 28 77
19 Minneapolis, MN 55 47 1 125 53
20 Athens, GA 9 35 78 49 112
21 Mansfield, OH 85 86 50 34 33
22 Dubuque, IA 130 82 64 9 4
23 Rochester, NY 150 2 16 96 38
24 Burlington, VT 157 71 12 35 32
25 Columbus, GA 5 35 78 39 150
26 Evansville, IN 44 72 74 53 65
27 Salt Lake City, UT 3 1 49 122 135
28 Boise City, ID 59 63 84 85 24
29 Youngstown, OH 89 86 50 77 15
30 Macon, GA 5 35 78 54 145
31 Atlantic City, NJ 160 9 13 79 58
32 Yakima, WA 82 30 5 48 154
33 Albany, NY 161 2 16 115 27
34 Reno, NV 2 50 68 65 141
35 Green Bay, WI 115 114 38 50 13
36 Madison, WI 80 114 38 92 6
37 Akron, OH 86 86 50 97 12
38 Fort Wayne, IN 53 72 74 88 46
39 Rockford, IL 105 57 24 90 58
40 Portland, ME 137 81 58 45 14
41 South Bend, IN 57 72 74 63 75
42 Pueblo, CO 61 41 70 31 139
43 Wichita Falls, TX 29 126 123 4 63
44 San Angelo, TX 26 126 123 5 65
45 Columbia, MO 95 118 99 19 17
46 Waco, TX 39 126 123 20 40
47 Augusta, GA 4 35 78 102 129
48 Buffalo, NY 164 2 16 110 57
49 Santa Maria, CA 124 11 28 32 157
50 Savannah, GA 8 35 78 86 145
51 Dayton, OH 77 86 50 84 56
52 Abilene, TX 28 126 123 10 68
53 Tucson, AZ 17 76 89 140 33
54 Columbus, OH 56 86 50 121 43
55 Eugene, OR 109 21 42 69 122
56 Topeka, KS 74 79 116 46 50
57 Fairbanks, AK 108 7 97 7 148
58 Victoria, TX 45 126 123 43 30
59 Cincinnati, OH 75 86 50 135 22
60 Worcester, MA 143 28 10 126 62
61 Redding, CA 138 11 28 33 162
62 Gainesville, FL 14 106 108 39 105
63 Des Moines, IA 116 82 64 29 84
64 Midland, TX 25 126 123 25 79
65 Santa Maria, CA 129 11 28 57 157
66 Lincoln, NE 75 142 87 52 28
67 Toledo, OH 79 86 50 116 54
68 Colorado Springs, CO 68 41 70 95 111
69 Fort Smith, AR 64 122 147 35 17
70 Olympia, WA 147 30 5 73 131
71 Salem, OR 112 21 42 99 116
72 Lubbock, TX 27 126 123 18 97
73 Brownsville, TX 33 126 123 70 42
74 Huntsville, AL 32 144 118 71 37
75 Raleigh, NC 96 94 103 101 9
76 Fresno, CA 128 11 28 74 163
77 Asheville, NC 117 94 103 66 25
78 Greensboro, NC 101 94 103 93 15
79 Wilmington, NC 109 94 103 64 38
80 Spokane, WA 117 30 5 105 152
81 Las Vegas, NV 1 50 68 139 153
82 Deltona, FL 14 106 108 72 112
83 Bakersfield, CA 126 11 28 83 165
84 Muskegon, MI 120 52 59 60 123
85 Grand Forks, ND 51 164 144 2 54
86 Amarillo, TX 31 126 123 42 96
87 Boston, MA 140 28 10 160 84
88 Cleveland, OH 86 86 50 128 72
89 Lansing, MI 123 52 59 59 131
90 Williamsport, PA 155 66 92 38 74
91 Stockton, CA 132 11 28 91 163
92 Atlanta, GA 11 35 78 153 149
93 Springfield, MO 97 118 99 67 46
94 Charlotte, NC 92 94 103 131 11
95 Phoenix, AZ 12 76 89 155 99
96 Knoxville, TN 46 99 138 109 40
97 Corpus Christi, TX 34 126 123 82 69
98 Montgomery, AL 20 144 118 81 71
99 Tallahassee, FL 12 106 108 75 133
100 San Diego, CA 127 11 28 112 159
101 Portland, OR 100 21 42 151 124
102 Erie, PA 159 66 92 44 78
103 Nashville, TN 36 99 138 149 17
104 Cheyenne, WY 58 157 164 15 49
105 Anchorage, AK 119 7 97 78 144
106 Tampa, FL 7 106 108 130 94
107 Denver, CO 67 41 70 148 120
108 Fargo, ND 52 164 144 51 35
109 Casper, WY 88 157 164 24 17
110 Pensacola, FL 10 106 108 100 127
111 Chattanooga, TN 41 99 138 94 81
112 Grand Rapids, MI 130 52 59 98 116
113 El Paso, TX 24 126 123 106 81
114 Memphis, TN 20 99 138 141 64
115 Jacksonville, FL 14 106 108 120 114
116 Indianapolis, IN 50 72 74 147 120
117 Wichita, KS 72 79 116 89 108
118 Great Falls, MT 34 161 161 14 95
119 Sacramento, CA 134 11 28 134 160
120 Bismarck, ND 48 164 144 23 88
121 Albuquerque, NM 23 105 151 113 79
122 Flint, MI 121 52 59 108 136
123 Orlando, FL 18 106 108 146 101
124 Austin, TX 42 126 123 144 45
125 Milwaukee, WI 98 114 38 124 107
126 Chicago, IL 113 57 24 159 130
127 Los Angeles, CA 124 11 28 161 160
128 New York, NY 162 9 13 165 136
129 Hartford, CT 158 45 21 129 134
130 St. Louis, MO 93 118 99 136 43
131 Baltimore, MD 146 57 15 145 127
132 Seattle, WA 145 30 5 157 155
133 Kansas City, MO 81 118 99 119 75
134 Providence, RI 166 62 4 133 136
135 Omaha, NE 83 142 87 87 102
136 Missoula, MT 64 161 161 17 98
137 Mobile, AL 42 144 118 107 90
138 San Francisco, CA 135 11 28 162 166
139 Sioux Falls, SD 104 159 152 37 50
140 Birmingham, AL 36 144 118 123 86
141 Bridgeport, CT 154 45 21 150 139
142 Allentown, PA 153 66 92 114 87
143 San Antonio, TX 40 126 123 137 93
144 Pittsburgh, PA 156 66 92 127 81
145 Lexington, KY 84 103 142 75 118
146 Billings, MT 30 161 161 26 147
147 Rapid City, SD 102 159 152 22 91
148 Little Rock, AR 70 122 147 102 91
149 Greenville, SC 70 150 158 68 88
150 Columbia, SC 60 150 158 111 61
151 Miami, FL 22 106 108 156 150
152 Charleston, SC 54 150 158 131 50
153 Dallas, TX 36 126 123 158 100
154 Detroit, MI 121 52 59 164 155
155 Houston, TX 49 126 123 166 104
156 Philadelphia, PA 149 66 92 152 119
157 Honolulu, HI 139 125 23 154 143
158 Louisville, KY 77 103 142 138 124
159 Huntington, WV 148 124 122 58 142
160 Shreveport, LA 141 153 154 80 72
161 Lake Charles, LA 142 153 154 56 108
162 Jackson, MS 143 141 166 117 58
163 Tulsa, OK 135 148 149 118 102
164 Oklahoma City, OK 132 148 149 143 105
165 Baton Rouge, LA 151 153 154 163 69
166 New Orleans, LA 152 153 154 141 115

Top (and Bottom) Five Cities for:

There’s no question that driver safety is near the top (if not the top) priority for U.S. cites, but many of them certainly have room for improvement. Let’s take a look at where these cities ranked in three categories of importance in our study: weather, rush hour and theft.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 22% of all vehicle crashes are weather-related. Precipitation affects roadway capacity, traffic speed, travel time delay and accident risk. For this data point, we looked at the average number of days annually when there is precipitation of .01 inch or more. Cities with less precipitation (Las Vegas/first) scored better marks than cities with a lot of precipitation (Huntington/last).

For some people, precious extra minutes of sleep in the morning can mean the difference of having a good day or a bad day. That means less time spent in traffic on your way to work. We took a look at average travel time it takes a commuter to get to the office. Workers in New Orleans spend almost three times as many minutes (35.2) getting to work than those in Grand Forks, N.D. (13.1) 

For most people, a vehicle is essential do their daily lives. People drive to work, pick their kids up from school and run errands. Because of a vehicle’s importance, we wanted to look at the theft rate in each city. Williamsport, Penn., had the lowest rate, at just under 38 thefts reported per 100,000 population while the Bay Area experiences about 17 times that rate. 

Methodology

To determine the safest cities for driving, we sought out recent data from reputable sources. We ended our search with 18 data points from nine sources to form five categories related to good driving conditions. Below, we breakdown each statistic and point to its origin. In parenthesis is the stat's relative weighting.

Quality of Roads

1. Structurally Deficient/Functionally Obsolete Bridges (1) *

U.S. Department of Transportation (2013)

Fact: The FHA uses the National Bridge Inventory rating system and considers a bridge structurally deficient if it receives a poor rating (0-4). In Rhode Island, for example, 433 of 766 bridges in the state are categorized as structurally deficient.

2. Annual Total Extra Vehicle Repairs/Operating Costs Due to Driving on Roads in Need of Fixing (1)*
3. Percentage of Roads in Poor / Mediocre Condition (1)*
4. Mean number of days with precipitation .01 inch or more (1) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2014)

Impaired Driving

5. Percentage of Adults Who Report Driving After Drinking Too Much (1)* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012)
6. Rate of death per 100,000 population (1)*

Passenger Safety

7. Fatal Crashes (.5)*

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2014)

Fact: The average seatbelt usage in the nation was 87%. Still though, almost half of all fatal injuries are caused in crashes where restraints aren’t used. In Oregon, seatbelt laws require all passengers to be wearing restraints and carry a maximum fine of $130 for a first offense. 

8. Deaths per 100,000 population (1.5)*
9. Deaths per mile traveled (1.5)*
10. Seatbelts usage percentage (.5)*

Ease of Commute

11. Average Commute Time (1.5) U.S. Census Bureau (2010)-2014
12. Commute by Car/Truck/Van percentage (.5)
13. Number of rush hours (time when system may be congested) (1) Texas A&M Transportation Institute (2014)
14. Annual excess fuel consumed (gallons per auto commuter) (1)
15. Annual congestion cost (dollar per commuter) (1)

Costs of Driving

16. Monthly Insurance Rates (1)* ValuePenguin Average Cost of Insurance (2016)
17. Gas Prices (1) AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report (April 25, 2016)
18. Rate of vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 people (1) National Insurance Crime Bureau (2014)
*This is state-level data.

Comments and Questions