Boise named 5th-safest driving city, best in West

By Betsy Z. Russell

Pedestrians cross five lanes of traffic in March on Front Street in Downtown Boise.
Pedestrians cross five lanes of traffic in March on Front Street in Downtown Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Boise is the fifth-safest driving city in the nation, according to a report from Allstate Insurance, which has been compiling its rankings annually for the past 12 years based on claims data and collisions.

Boise was ranked highest in the West, with the only other western city making the top 10 being Reno, Nevada, at No. 10.

Idaho’s capital city has ranked in the top 10 every year for the past eight years.

Clark Nielsen, owner of Allstate insurance agencies in Boise and Meridian, said the data shows Boise drivers are likely to be involved in a collision only once every 12.8 years, vs. the national average of 10 years.

“I’m just quite proud of our town – it’s a wonderful place to live, and obviously this is just an indicator of it,” he said.

This year, the report also analyzed braking habits in more than 100 cities, looking for “hard-braking events,” which are defined as slowing down 8 mph or more over a one-second period. Hard-braking incidents correlate with collision frequency.

Nationally, U.S. drivers experience an average of 19 hard-braking events for every 1,000 miles driven. In Boise, that figure was just 11.6 events, sixth-lowest among the cities analyzed. The lowest was Madison, Wisconsin, at 9.

Boise drivers were 22.1 percent less likely than the national average to experience a collision. The survey covers the nation’s 200 largest cities.

So why is it so much safer to drive in Boise than, say, West Valley, Utah (ranked 87th), Seattle (183th), Eugene (42nd), Spokane (54th) or Salt Lake City (78th)?

Population density and weather are among the factors that Allstate weighed. But most of it apparently comes down to good driving habits, such as drivers leaving room between them and the vehicles they’re following and drivers minimizing distractions while driving, including eating, texting and grooming.

“We’re just a little bit more conscientious, all in all,” Nielsen said.

But Boise can’t rest on its laurels: It has slipped in the rankings in the last few years. It rose from No. 9 in 2009 to No. 3 in 2010 and ranked second on the list in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The next two years Boise ranked third. Now it’s fifth.

The city that ranked the worst should be no surprise to anyone who’s ever driven there: Boston.