Austin drivers not as bad as residents proclaim

Brianna Pelayo

Contrary to what many Austinites may believe about the people they share the roads with, a recent report by Allstate Insurance Co. showed large improvement in quality of Austin drivers.

According to the seventh annual Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report, which ranks the nation’s largest cities in terms of car collision frequency, Austin ranked 150 out of 200. This is an improvement from last year’s ranking of 170, making Austin the third most improved of all cities reported this year. This score also ranks Austin above both Dallas and Houston in collision frequency.

“You’ll see from year to year typically a city will either go forward or slide backward a couple of spots, so to go down 20 [ranks] is definitely impressive,” said Allstate spokeswoman Kristen Beaman.

Although the dip in Austin’s ranking is something to be proud of, the intent of the report is not for a competitive purpose. The overall goal of this report, Beaman said, is to facilitate a nationwide and statewide discussion on safe driving.

Melissa Munez, applied learning and development sophomore, said she drives to and from campus every day, but despite the new ranking she continues to see careless driving on a daily basis.

“People drive pretty recklessly,” Munez said. “Obviously this is a huge generalization, but during the school year I drive every day from Slaughter Lane to the UT campus and back. I drive along Lamar [Boulevard], Congress [Avenue], First Street or along the frontage roads and I see this recklessness almost every time.”

Sam Sinclair, Lead Worker for Traffic Safety in the Texas Department of Transportation, said he realizes there are still reckless drivers in Austin, but he doesn’t find it hard to believe Austin is becoming a safer city to drive in.

“The crashes and fatalities have been trending down, partly because of the fact that more people were using public transportation due to the rising gas prices, but also I believe it is because we have a very active police department,” Sinclair said. “They’re definitely not just sitting back and hoping things get better.”

Sinclair said the first immediate action drivers can take to help improve safe driving in Austin is to avoid using cell phones while driving.

“No. 1 is to protect yourself,” Sinclair said. “Put away the cell phones. Put it in a purse or bag and put it in the back seat, that way there is less temptation.”