By on December 29, 2016

Winter city snow

Boston, the city that gave us both the New Kids On The Block and Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, placed dead last on Allstate’s 2016 America’s Best Drivers List. With the weather in Beantown turning blustery and cold, the Car Talk slogan of “don’t drive like my brother” has become hauntingly sound advice.

However Boston isn’t a singular example of a city with overzealous insurance claimants and certainly isn’t only location about to get hit with seasonally inclement weather. There are plenty of places where you’ll want to look out for other drivers just as much as you will icy patches of road this winter. 

Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts also possessed a ludicrously high likelihood of exceptionally poor drivers. However, neither city matched Boston’s insurance claim rate of 167.6 percent above the national average — not even after Allstate adjusted for population density and annual precipitation.

Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. also recorded abnormal levels of low quality drivers, with claims exceeding 106 percent above normal. Is there a regional trend here? All of the aforementioned cities have maintained their bottom tier status from last year and all are dotted along America’s eastern shore. Philadelphia, New Haven, and Providence also wound up in the lowest ten municipalities.

Of the warmer weather sites, California’s San Francisco, Glendale, and Los Angeles fared the worst. In fact, the Golden State did pretty poorly overall.

Whether you are smack dab in the middle of California’s rainy season or about to get hit with flurries in the Northeast, the likelihood of your car taking a beating is higher now than it was a few months ago, and you’re surrounded by terrible drivers. The good news, however, is that you are slightly less likely to be killed by one of them. Summer and fall months actually see more deadly crashes than winter or spring. People also tend to be cautious drivers in visibly poor weather, which is comforting information to have (unless you live in one of the aforementioned cities).

The best advice — which I’m sure you already know — is to reduce speed whenever necessary and take adequate precautions prior to heading out. While that might not prevent a fender bender this winter, it could save you from a serious accident or winter-related emergency. Beyond that, check the complete list of cities and move to a one with a better climate and more careful drivers.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

59 Comments on “Cities You Might Want to Consider Avoiding on a Winter Road Trip...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Save Boston, I would avoid all of those places on general principle.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Boston is BY FAR the worst city I’ve ever driven in…even worse than NYC. Circa-1650 street layouts are charming when you’re on foot, awful in a car.

      (Great city otherwise, though)

      And I’d rate Chicago as a close second. Besides growing up in St. Louis, where Hating All Things Chicago is in your DNA, the traffic is awful, and the drivers are incredibly rude.

      How rude, you ask?

      I once got tailgated there…in a f**king cemetery. Enough said.

      Chicago = all the bad stuff that you get in New York, plus rotten winters, and without the compensating factor of actually being in New York.

      • 0 avatar
        Bonzai

        Navigating NYC isn’t bad since it’s on a grid. Traffic is another story.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        New York drivers are an order of magnitude better than those in Chicago. They’re homicidally aggressive but they pay attention.

        • 0 avatar

          They pay attention but the aggression does cause an outsize portion of crashes (NOT accidents) and fatalities. We’ve had a bad year of maimed or dead pedestrians and bikers, all unnecessary if people had simply slowed down.

          Most NYC aggression seems fueled by anger, substances or some combination of both, but mostly it’s “Get out of MY way!”

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Laying on the horn is like anger management in New York.

            Here in Denver, you honk at someone and they look at you as if you flipped the bird at their twin toddlers Kaylee and Kyler.

          • 0 avatar

            WHenever someone lays on the horn for being delayed a half-second, I say “get over your damned self.” People love it.

      • 0 avatar
        AoLetsGo

        The majority of my business trips are similar: fly in, rent a car, drive and drive, fly home. The picture above reminds me of a fond memory of a winter trip to Boston when they got blasted that year many times with big snow. This time I flew in and for 3 days I walked and took the T all over town, never had a car. It really is a great town to see by foot. I even went to a Bruins game for cheap – it was a weeknight and snowing hard so I was patient and got the scalper down to $5, he was pissed.

      • 0 avatar
        mknevada

        @Freedmike.. As a proud Chicago Native,, let me say.. You don’t like us? We don’t care. We don’t think that much about “y’all”
        Moving on … I am truly grateful to have gotten my winter driving skills from my youth in Chicago. They have served me well in The Rockies and now in the Sierras. Something to be said for a good training ground…Even if we are all rude and shit.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      They all have their charms, except maybe Baltimore which is half hood and half the worst kind of frat bros.

      DC produces some of the most fun conversations you’ll ever have. It’s full of smart people from all over the United States with genuinely different beliefs and experiences. It’s the prettiest city on the East Coast. And it’s got a really good and growing restaurant and bar scene.

      San Francisco on its best days distills all the best things about West Coast culture. Unfortunately, no one can afford to live there anymore and the tech bros are in danger of swallowing the culture whole, but you can still see it when visiting if you hang out in some of the older neighborhoods and go to the older bars and restaurants in them.

      Los Angeles is a marvel of capitalism. It’s the small business capital of the US and the entrepreneurial hub of the entire Pacific Rim. You can buy anything from anywhere in the Pacific from food to clothing to trinkets to electronics to weird cars. It’s also the hub of car culture for the entire nation. I wouldn’t live there because everything is too far apart and there’s a fakey aspect to the culture that really bugs me, but it’s fun to visit.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Everything about LA is fake, and it’s so far apart that it takes an hour in the car to do simple errand type activities. Everything costs too much. Everything is too crowded. All the roads are sh!t and poorly planned!

        The weather is not redeeming enough.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          No place with palm trees is fit for decent people.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            This is true. Pine trees is where it’s at.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You’re sounding like one of us.

            I’ve spent the last few days thinking carefully about how to make more than weedy dirt out of my backyard, which is surrounded and mostly shaded by cedars and firs (“pine trees” to the non-local). Latest thinking is to cultivate a moss lawn.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            There are some nice types of voluminous moss that won’t require any maintenance. I’d go for that. I have a couple places on the sides of my yard where there’s always moss, but it’s always patchy with dirt.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          LA = fun to visit.

          No way I’d live there, though.

          Now, San Diego…that’s another story. I’d live there in a nanosecond.

          • 0 avatar
            Hemi

            Naah San Diego has gotten insanely expensive and a crazy huge homeless population when I was recently there. It sucks.

      • 0 avatar

        @ dal20402 DC is definitely not the prettiest city on the East Coast. Ugly wardman row houses all over? Check. Monolithic office buildings? Check! Ugly new glass office buildings? check! Ugly run-down areas? Check! The metro area is even worse. Commercial strips, strip malls all over. Dominant residential architecture: post-war bottom-line. Edge cities all over.

        Boston proper is terrible for driving–really slow. But it IS beautiful. When I drive along the Charles River, it’s like a symphony going off in my head. Boston is vibrant. The architecture is beautiful…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The claims rate covers up big differences in the reason for the claims rate.

    I lived for some time in both Boston and Washington, DC (and loved both of them for very different reasons, but DC more than Boston). The driving cultures couldn’t be more different.

    In Boston, road users navigate by just going where they want to. Lane and crosswalk markings are ignored for the most part. Surprisingly often, traffic signals are too. Speeds are so low that for the most part other users just deal with it. Driving (and biking, and walking) in Boston is an experience of traveling at very low speed and constantly stopping for other things that got in your way, and then proceeding when clear (even if “clear” means just a few feet). As you can imagine, accidents are very frequent but rarely very severe. Drivers who don’t get it and want to GO FAST have a terrible time and become enraged, causing most of the anger that outsiders associate with Boston driving. You just have to be zen about it and accept that in Boston you don’t get anywhere in a hurry no matter how you travel. Winter weather really makes no difference — the city is equipped for it and the drivers barely notice it.

    In DC, about a third of the drivers are engaged in a life contest to show they are more important than those around them. (These people are the most annoying thing about DC away from the roads, too.) Those drivers will go AS FAST AS POSSIBLE regardless of setting and will not stop for red lights if they think they can possibly get away with it. Either driving or walking in DC is an experience of always having your head on a swivel so that you don’t get T-boned or splatted into the pavement by a guy doing 45 mph on a city street while shouting into his cell phone. Accidents are pretty frequent and often severe. And winter weather just makes these people crazy because they can’t pull rank on it. Just stay off the roads in DC when it’s snowing.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “You just have to be zen about it and accept that in Boston you don’t get anywhere in a hurry no matter how you travel.”

      Yep.

      I honeymooned on Martha’s Vineyard in 1993, and flew into Logan. It took us 30 minutes to just get through the tunnel to the city. It was so bad there was a guy with a machine on his back, selling coffee drinks.

      And then we got into Boston itself, which proves conclusively that LSD did indeed exist in the 17th century, as the folks who laid out the city were clearly tripping their balls off.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The local myth is that cows, not people, laid the city out, because people-paths and eventually streets were built over top of the paths the cows wore through the vegetation.

      • 0 avatar

        @FreedMike

        Getting in and out of Logan was revolutionized by the big dig. Before, it took AT LEAST 45 minutes–often much longer–to get from my house in Lexington to Logan. Now it can take as little as 25 minutes and except at rush hour rarely takes more than 30 and change. It’s also much quicker to get through Boston.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      When I lived in Boston, I remember reading that Massachusetts ranked at the top in fender-benders but close to the bottom in automotive fatalities.

      My ex-wife described Boston driving like this: “Left turn from right lane only”. A friend of mine who was originally from Wisconsin said “The most dangerous thing you can do is to run a green light”.

      One more thing: *every* town near Boston has a Washington Street. It’s entirely possible to be driving on Washington Street in one town and, after passing into another to cross another Washington Street.

    • 0 avatar

      @dal20402

      your observations about DC and Boston are very interesting. I’ve lived in DC for years, but not since ’99, although I do spend 4-6 weeks here annually, with sibligns.

      It sounds like you haven’t lived in Boston for quite a while. Bostonians now do stop for peds in crosswalks, quite reliably. But a lot of drivers are slow, especially in Cambridge, where my own theory is that most people consider cars to be a form of evil. It’s so annoying driving into Harvard square on the fun twisty parts of field/Garden st, only to get stuck behind some Cambridge driver doing 18mph.

      But while Cambridge drivers are overly poliiite to anyone in front of them–peds, other drivers, cyclists–they seem unaware that people behind them might want to get around them or start going when the light turns green instead of waiting for the Cambridge driver to finish texting. (It’s really annoying to be passed on your bicycle by a Cambridge driver. They seem to think it’s more polite to pass slowly, when you just wish they’d get ahead of you rather than driving beside you.

  • avatar

    I teach part-time driving instruction for a school in Brooklyn, NY. When our students say how hard it is to learn in Brooklyn, I respond, “just be glad you’re not in Boston.”

    I’m pretty fearless about driving in most cities, but in Beantown I only feel safe as a passenger on the T.

    As for Worcester (my mother-in-law’s hometown) and Springfield, they’re always so abandoned whenever I drive through that I feel like the road is all mine.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…just be glad you’re not in Boston.”

      Pretty much works for every situation there in New York, though, doesn’t it? Yankees / Red Sox, all that.

      (And frankly, I have no love for the Red Sox either…took out my Cards not once but twice in the Series)

    • 0 avatar
      bbkkrr

      I say Worcester has all the drawbacks of a large east coast city with none of the advantages. Traffic is awful at commute time, for what reason? This is Worcester, after all. But Worcester does have all those little metal dining cars — love ’em all.

      And Springfield, geez, trying to get to the Hartford airport (that’s BDL) on 91 at any reasonable hour is futile, esp now as construction has messed it up further.

      But I’m a midwest driver, unused to this nonsense. I’m not sure whether the scenic country roads out in MA, NH, CT are any better than the city routes. They can be amazingly pretty, but full of blind corners and rises, bordered by large trees and stone walls. We all are terribly skilled drivers, but you can’t avoid what you can’t see.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @bbkkrr Worcester also has a couple of streets that answer the age old question of what San Francisco driving would be like in snow.

        The suburban “scenic” roads are awesome. There are plenty of those near me. Beautiful and a sample of European roads right here in the USA.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        The scenic roads really depends on the road.

        The plus side of this area is there is usually about a million different ways you can get to things.

        There are a couple alternative ways you can get to BDL from Springfield. You should be able to go through Suffield and Agawam pretty easily.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      Drive through the worst parts of Brooklyn and no one stops at Red lights even during the daytime. Fucked up

  • avatar
    Bonzai

    I’ve driven in major cities all over the country. Massachusetts drivers are aggressive but skilled. Winter tears up the roads there so lane markings are non-existent in many areas. Couple that with potholes and you have one hell of a driving experience.

    DC/NoVA/MD drivers are just reckless. Unnecessary speeding, tailgating, weaving are just a few of the delightful things you’ll see driving on 495.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Having lived in the DC area nearly 30 years, but also spending lots of time driving in Boston and NYC, I tend to agree with you, caveats about generalizations and all that. My sense is that Boston drivers are crazy but pretty competent about it, whereas in the Nat’l Capital Region they’re pretty incompetent and crazy, with an added dash of imagined self-importance. When winter weather comes (which around here often adds ice to the mix), I tend to just stay off the roads, especially with so many transplanted drivers from warm climates who are clueless about winter conditions.

      My son, who grew up in NoVA but now works in the car industry in greater Detroit, thinks the drivers up there are crazy fast, but they seem far more competent at it than in the DC area.

      • 0 avatar
        sutherland555

        Road tripped from Toronto to NYC and DC on separate occasions.

        NYC drivers have ZERO patience for sort of hesitation or indecisive driving but otherwise seem like pretty skilled drivers. Traffic in lower Manhattan was predictably nuts for obvious reasons although we stayed in an in Spanish Harlem and traffic wasn’t nearly as bad there.

        DC drivers seemed unpredictable and unskilled. Traffic was nuts due to volume and the awkward street layout.

        Either way, you couldn’t pay me to drive in either city.

        • 0 avatar
          Hemi

          Yea I agree the DMV area has some of the worst indecisive drivers. It may be compounded by the fact there are so many “transplants” fresh out of college flocking there. Jeremy from bumblefuck drives 10 under the limit and brakes 100 feet before the car in front of him.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          For the most part, driving in NYC isn’t too bad. You have to be on your game, however.

          But let me give a shout out to rural PA drivers who practice the ancient art of “barnacling”. This may be a defensive posture to minimize the opportunity for the deer to jump in front of the barnacle. I think this has to be the rationale, because they will stick to your tail no matter how fast you drive and when not having someone to cling to, they don’t seem to drive excessively fast.

          The old adage is true. No matter where you live, they have the worst drivers.

  • avatar
    Nostrathomas

    Questionable skills and anger issues. They don’t call them Massholes for nothing.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    When it comes to winter driving here in the great state of Michigan, my biggest problem is with tailgaters. The other day the road “looked dry” but just a few seconds showed me that there was a thin layer of black ice that was randomly all over the place. But that didn’t stop the guy behind me in the SUV riding my ass.

    Same day I saw a VW Jetta wagon that had gone up and over the curb to land right in the middle of an intersection island. Obviously he wasn’t paying attention either.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the worst parts of winter driving in at least the Detroit area are:

      1) we don’t believe in winter tires, and
      2) you don’t always know which cities plow the streets after a significant snowfall.

      #1 is made especially bad inside the city of Detroit, where your average hooptie has at least one temporary spare on it. #2 was made evident to me a week ago when I went to Hamtramck, where they don’t plow the roads. all of the side streets felt like severely degraded dirt roads.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Even some cities with money don’t plow side streets. Royal Oak is bad at that. If I lived in Royal Oak instead of Huntington Woods, I would probably have to shovel my way out of mt dead end street when in snows a foot or more.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “. Massachusetts drivers are aggressive but skilled. ”
    .
    Certainly this used to be the case when I lived there 50 years ago, maybe it’s the Millennials who don’t see the bigger picture ? .
    .
    Here in Los Angles (home to fruits, nuts and flakes) any time one sees a license tag from Mass. LOOK OUT as the driver is inevitably rude and usually dangerous to boot .
    .
    I don’t mind cautious sidewalk driving etc. but blowing red lights and other dangerous stunts are not wise and make you look like an asshole not a tough guy as you fervently wish .
    .
    Snow driving can be a PIA but it’s also gloriously beautiful .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    Fred

    We went to NYC for Christmas one year. It was lovely with the snow and decorations. Had a good time. Then again, we didn’t do any driving. Even if I lived there I don’t think I’d do much driving.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Not driving is a way of life in NYC.

      • 0 avatar

        Disagree totally. Not driving is a way of life in the parts of NYC well-served by subways, buses, bicycles and easily walkable.

        Plenty of NYC — perhaps 60% — has none of the above. There is a reason our driving school is so busy. Car sales do well here too, while Zipcar and its competitors flourish. Rental agencies get up to $250 so you can drive a Chevy Cruze. A

        nd yes, people WANT cars even with all the cost and inconvenience that is out of bounds on their incomes. That is why you see a lot of expensive off-lease stuff like Range Rovers that their owners can’t possibly keep up to snuff.

        • 0 avatar
          skor

          True, a car is a liability in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, but in most of the outer boroughs getting around my mass transit means mostly bus, which can be a real pain.

          • 0 avatar
            Hemi

            The 2 things that are normal for a 35 year old New Yorker, that is weird anywhere else in the US
            1) Having roommates
            2) Not having a DL

          • 0 avatar

            “The 2 things that are normal for a 35 year old New Yorker, that is weird anywhere else in the US: 1) Having roommates; 2) Not having a DL”

            I make some nice extra cash off #2. Uber/Lyft and self-driving cars won’t eliminate the need to drive completely, though it will be easier in 20 years.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Soemtimes it’s really great. On Boxing Day, my wife wanted to go downtown to buy some art supplies. I said “let’s take the car”. Called the garage, got in the car and we went from the Upper East Side to the meatpacking district in just a few minutes on the FDR around the Battery to West Street. We parked right in front of the store. The return trip was just as quick. Beat the hell out of taking the subway.

    • 0 avatar

      It is a breeze compared to Boston

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I went away to boarding school when I was a lad. At one point I returned home to Boston after having been away for several years, and my father picked me up from Logan for the ride home. I literally shouted in terror when he cut across two lanes of 40mph traffic to reach the toll booth with the shortest line to get into the tunnel.

    But I’ll still take Massholes over Jersey drivers any day of the week.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Driving in Boston is the pits. We were stressing out on yet another trip around the big dig when the bumper sticker on the car in front of us changed our whole Boston driving experience. It said “Don’t get angry, just drive like we do”.

    I still don’t like driving in Boston, but with the completion of the big dig, as well as seeing the tailgating, surprise lane changes, and stop light racing, as an interesting anthropological experiment rather then attempted homicide, has made it easier to deal with.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    Boston guy here and I agree with previous posters. Yes, we drive aggressively. Yes we drive “fast” (how fast can one go down 128, really?) but I’ll tell you, compared to driving say in Seattle, Orange County, Portland, Dallas, and God help you Florida, I’d take Boston any day.

    We may be aggressive, but we do it so much it’s just second nature. That 30 foot space between you and the car in front? Yeah, that’s mine. Thanks. No rude gestures, no honking, just the general acceptance of the way things are.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      I’ve always been comfortable driving in Boston. Everyone is driving like they need to be someplace RIGHT NOW. I appreciate that.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        For me Boston driving is/was simply pragmatism ~ no need to bash fenders but any available open space, I’d use it .
        .
        Because of this attitude I occasionally get weird tickets in Los Angeles : driving on the side walks etc. .
        .
        One needn’t drive crazy fast just quickly and efficiently .
        .
        I rarely exceed 85 MPH but I also don’t like driving slower than 45 ~ 50 MPH .
        .
        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy

          Haha… you are correct. Default speeds are 80-85 on the highways (on the rare occasion you can get up to that speed), 40 on major in-city routes, 30 on everything else.

          Quickly and efficiently!

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Silly urbanites! Winter is for taking day-long road trips down to Missouri (Misery?) to look at some janky piece of farm equipment!

  • avatar
    Onus

    I grew up 15 minutes from Springfield Ma in Connecticut ( same metro area ). I would take driving in the area any day of the week over driving here in the Charlotte NC metro area.

    We drive aggressively and fast but are pretty attentive. Down here people drive with their eyes shut. As a result people race to lights, drive in packs on highway ( try passing these people ), slam on the brakes in the middle of the highway, tailgate on the highway, and do completely random and unnecessary things.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I finally broke down, subsumed my macho, and drove my dear wife’s M35x to go through Glacier Park and over Marias Pass to spend Christmas with Grandma. I would go to any of these cities with this car. I had never challenged its capabilities when driving it in the past, as my “fleet” of bizarrely chosen automobilia needs exercise on a regular basis. Equipped with the W80 series Blizzaks, we went through the worst a Canadian north wind and snow storm can offer, and almost never lost traction except when rotating on purpose. The engine and gearing suffer from a lack of compromise, but managed to return 24 m.p.g. in these conditions mostly spent at 4000 feet of altitude and above. I had looked at its sound and accoutrements with disdain for years, assuming anything that appealed to my wife was beneath my driving and appreciation, even though I love her dearly. I guess an old fart can learn new tricks, after all.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Northwest Ohio:

    1. Most take the “acceleration lane” onto a freeway as a mere suggestion?! Check! (50mph behind some jackwagon merging into 70mph traffic! Yup!)

    2. Left-lane banditry is an art form!

    3. Oft times no idea that the left stalk isn’t just for the headlights!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Menar Fromarz: Ah, you obviously haven’t dealt with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. AKA The Dark...
  • ToolGuy: JimZ, You’re not serious, but trade Jim Hackett for Elon Musk (keep Gwynne Shotwell) and see if...
  • Art Vandelay: They didn’t cost extra either
  • ToolGuy: …which is why I’ve left two OEM’s so far. And come to think of it, maybe why my kids...
  • ToolGuy: Some really old guys with broken wrists, arms and jaws might disagree with you – kidding. But if you...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States