Las Vegas-area drivers are far worse than the national average

Las Vegas-area driversAllstate Insurance is out with its latest annual rankings of the nation’s 200 most populous cities with the best and worse drivers. It’s not good news for the Las Vegas area.

The giant insurer calculated ranks for seven places in the Las Vegas Valley, comprising 94% of the Clark County population: the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson, and the unincorporated townships of Enterprise, Paradise, Spring Valley and Sunrise Manor. Averaged together, the seven ranked No. 138, in the bottom third of the list, where No. 1 is best and No. 200 is worst.

That’s bad enough. But the reality was actually more depressing than that, because No. 100–the middle ranking in a list of 200–is not the national average.

From its vast database of claims by and against policyholders (a whopping 10% of all U.S. drivers), Allstate calculated average years between collisions. The more years, the better the drivers.The less years, the worst the drivers.

The national average was about 10.55 years between accidents. But that was only No. 44 on the list of 200 (Akron, Ohio, if you want to know). So every ranking numerically greater than that, even if below No. 100, was worse than the real national average.

Thus, the Las Vegas area ranking wasn’t 38% worse than the national average–that percent math would be [(138 minus 100) times 100, then divided by 100]. It really was 214% worse [(138 minus 44) times 100, then divided by 44].

In the Vegas area, the average driver had a wreck about every eight years, 31.9% more frequently than the national average.

In case you wonder, the best drivers were found in Brownsville, Tex.; Boise, Idaho; and Huntsville, Ala. (Reno, the only other Nevada city on the list, did pretty well, ranking No. 25). The worst drivers were found in Baltimore, Md. Washington, D.C.; and Boston, Mass., with Los Angeles just missing at No. 195.

With or without the math, the Allstate findings probably won’t surprise too many drivers in Las Vegas. Just consider car insurance rates. I became New To Las Vegas from Seattle in  2016. With no accidents or traffic tickets for a million years, and with roughly the same coverages, our annual two-car premium, which I shopped around, rose 43%.

There has to be a reason for that. Both cities have plenty of insurers to choose from. Both have lots of lawyers willing to take even marginal cases on contingent fees. Both have lots of tourists whose unfamiliarity with local roads–as drivers or pedestrians–can be a contributing factor to accidents.

But repairs and medical costs are far cheaper in Las Vegas than in Seattle. So I have to think most of the difference came from the overall quality of the driver universe here, well captured by the Allstate data. (Seattle, which also has never fared terribly well on the Allstate list, moved up a bit this year but still ranked No. 155, barely out of the bottom quarter and actually worse than the Las Vegas area.)

My working theory is that many in Las Vegas drive like they’re gamblers. They hope to get lucky, either by having no accidents or banking a big payout if there is one.

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