What makes our nation's capital, where filibusters are exceeded by fender-benders, the District of Collisions? Is there something about government work that attracts bad drivers?
According to a report from Allstate Insurance, Washington stands at the bottom of a list of 200 safe-driving cities, which is another way of saying it's the least-safe city examined by the insurer. And the explanations for this phenomenon offered to Times staff writer Richard Simon by AAA official John B. Townsend II do not add up. First off, Townsend explains, Washington has the worst traffic congestion in the country, and all those traffic jams "can trigger stress and frustration behind the wheel, and drivers tend to speed and become more prone to road rage."
Now wait just a minute. Los Angeles seldom gets top ranking on national measures of just about anything, but any Angeleno knows that when it comes to traffic, we're No. 1.
Actually, it turns out that we're No. 2 or 3, but Washington isn't a slam-dunk as jam-central either. In May, traffic researcher Inrix listed Honolulu as the nation's most congested city, with L.A. coming in second; according to that scorecard, Washington is merely the sixth nastiest place for American commuters. But District of Columbians point with pride to a 2011 study by the Texas Transportation Institute that put Washington on top of the traffic heap, ranking Chicago second and Los Angeles third. How about if we agree to this: Washington and L.A. both have very nasty traffic, but we're not sure which city is worse. Nonetheless, according to Allstate, the average motorist in Washington is involved in a crash every 4.7 years, compared to every 6.7 years for the average Angeleno. So heavy traffic doesn't really make the cut as the explanation.