St. Paul steers clear of accidents

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2012 - 3:38 PM

St. Paul was singled out as having the nation's safest drivers, according to a study by Men's Health. Minneapolis drivers barely cracked the Top 20.

Gov. Ventura once complained that St. Paul's city planners "must have been drunk" when they designed the city's confusing streets. Turns out those oddly numbered, start-and-stop streets might be an advantage to the capital city.

St. Paul was singled out as having the nation's safest drivers, according to a study by Men's Health.

The magazine looked at accidents related to speeding, alcohol or hit-and-runs in the country's 100 largest cities. (Other factors included in the ranking were seat belt use and laws restricting talking or texting while driving.)

St. Paul was the only city to grab an A-plus rating, besting Lincoln, Neb. and Boston, which received A-minuses. Minneapolis drivers, apparently overconfident on its easier-to-navigate streets, barely cracked the Top 20.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Dan Marshall, owner of Peapods toy store on Como Avenue. "People drive slower in St. Paul than in Minneapolis," he said. "Too slow, maybe."

Marshall pointed out that the city has taken steps to calm traffic, including the Paint the Pavement program, in which volunteers paint murals on some streets in residential neighborhoods. The city also added a median on busy Snelling Avenue, he said.

With typical Minnesota modesty, St. Paul public information officer Dave Hunt declined to give the public works department all the credit. "I can't really say the city has a strategy to make it the safest," he said, "but St. Paul drivers are respectful of fellow pedestrians."

That's not the case in Texas. Drivers in Dallas, Houston and Austin were among the most accident-prone in the country.

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