Gridlock Guy: Study says metro among highest for car wrecks, thefts

In the almost 19 years that I have been a traffic reporter for WSB Radio and Television in Atlanta I am used to seeing studies and surveys a few times a year from organizations highlighting how bad our traffic is. Sometimes the the data is based on trip times, sometimes the studies are based on how much time we sit in stopped traffic and sometimes the surveys focus on how unhappy we are with our commutes. I get it and you get it, our traffic is bad. These studies only confirm what we already know in our bones.

That being said, a new traffic study was recently released by NerdWallet. This information was something we don’t usually see. Instead of telling us how bad our traffic is, this data tells us how dangerous it is to drive on our roads. Usually when the “bad traffic” studies are released Atlanta falls in the top ten for worst commutes. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to “dangerous roads” once again Atlanta is close to the dubious top spot.

According to the information gathered by NerdWallet, Atlanta is the seventh most dangerous city in the United States to be a driver. The study looked at almost 200 of the nation’s most populous cities. To complete the survey, NerdWallet compiled the number of car crashes, the number of fatal crashes and the number of vehicle related crimes. Add it all up and we’re in the top ten again.

According to the data, Atlanta drivers average 10.7 fatal wrecks per 100,000 residents. That is staggering number. Detroit (the most dangerous city for drivers according to the study) led the nation with 16.2 deadly wrecks per 100,000 residents.

NerdWallet classified cities into three categories when it comes to auto theft and vehicle larceny: safe, less safe and least safe. No shock here, Atlanta was deemed least safe.

It is interesting to note that Atlantans are 40 percent more likely to get in an accident than the national average. Sadly, I can confirm that huge discrepancy every day on our roads.

So, we get into a lot of crashes, we get into an inordinate amount fatal crashes and there is a better than average chance that our car will be broken into or stolen. Aside from the obvious ramifications, how does this impact us?

In our wallets.

Because of our collective, poor automotive statistics, Atlanta residents pay and average of $321 more per year in car insurance than the safest driving city in America: Cary, North Carolina. Our average tab for auto insurance is $1,050 a year. Once again, that number could be a whole lot worse though. Detroit drivers pay a whopping $5,409 a year for auto insurance.

Overall the study found that larger cities tend to be more dangerous for drivers (obviously) and that cities in the south and east tend to be more dangerous. Thirteen of the 20 most dangerous driving cities are either in the south or on the east coast.

Gridlock updates: Mark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.

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