Allstate recently came out with its annual ranking of the best drivers in America, and Twin Cities motorists didn't fare so well.
As a group, we're becoming much more crash prone.
Minneapolis drivers are likely to get in a collision once every nine years — 11 percent above the national average of once every 10 years. Motorists in St. Paul were likely to be involved in a mishap every 8.4 years, or 15.1 percent above the national average.
The insurance company has compiled crash data and claims for the past 11 years to rank drivers in the nation's 200 largest cities. This year's "America's Best Drivers Report" puts Minneapolis at No. 81 and St. Paul at No. 121, worse than the last count.
The survey is based on claims data from January 2012 to December 2013. Two years ago, St. Paul came in at a respectable No. 53, with an average of 10.1 years between crashes. Minneapolis was not far behind at No. 66, with the average driver going 9.9 years between wrecks.
The results can give bragging rights to drivers in places such as Kansas City, which replaced Fort Collins, Colo., as the safest driving city in America. Meanwhile, those in Boston, who were more likely to get in a crash than drivers anywhere else, might feel a bit of shame.
But the real purpose of the report is to create awareness of what is happening on the roads and to remind motorists everywhere to drive safely, said Greg Sniezek, an Allstate representative in Maple Grove.
"Twin Cities drivers should not get discouraged by their rankings," he said. "Focusing on behaviors like slowing down, leaving room between you and other drivers, and minimizing distractions such as texting will help Twin Cities drivers to improve their driving skills."
Minneapolis' slide in the rankings does not surprise John Elder, a spokesman for the city's police department.
"We have more cars on the roads and more distractions for drivers," he said. "We see more cases of road rage than a decade ago. People seem to be in a hurry wherever they are going. We live in a fast-paced society where everything has to be done yesterday. That is what it boils down to."
Allstate's findings, at allstate.com/BestDriversReport come as the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that traffic deaths were up 14 percent in the first six months of this year, and serious injuries were up 30 percent. That adds up to 19,000 deaths and 2.2 million people hurt, putting the nation on pace to record the deadliest driving year since 2007.
Many factors influence highway safety. An improving economy and lower gas prices have led to an increase in the number of miles driven. The Federal Highway Administration's latest Traffic Volume Trend Report says cumulative travel for 2015 was 1,820.3 billion vehicle miles through July, an increase of 3.6 percent over last year. With more vehicles on the roads, experts remind drivers to slow down, wear seat belts, avoid alcohol and cellphone use, and learn how to use their vehicle safety systems.
"The trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light: Danger lies ahead," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC. "Be a defensive driver and make safe decisions behind the wheel. Your life depends on it."