Every year, Allstate releases its “America’s Best Drivers Report,” which claims to rank our cities from best to worst. Seattle placed a dismal 184 out of 200 this year, our worst score yet. And every year, news sources in those cities eat it up.
Don’t listen to these haters, Seattle drivers. We here at Seattle Bike Blog wouldn’t trade you for drivers from any other American city. ❤❤❤❤❤❤
For example, when friends from my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri (Allstate’s 85th safest drivers in America) visit Seattle for the first time, I like to show them a magic trick: I start to enter a crosswalk and the busy traffic actually stops to let us cross.
Now, I know people don’t always stop — we still have to work on this, Seattle — but back in Missouri, essentially nobody ever stops. I’m pretty sure most people driving there don’t even know you’re supposed to stop for people in a crosswalk (for years I thought crosswalks were just to tell people where to cross, and I scored very high on the driver’s test). When people do stop, it’s more of a friendly courtesy thing than basic rule following.
And it’s not just crosswalks. When I’m on my bike in Seattle and I arrive at a traffic circle or four-way stop at the same time as someone driving, the person driving nearly always pauses to let me go first. This drove me crazy when I first moved here. “If it’s your turn, just go!” the Missouri driver in me wanted to yell.
But I’ve grown to understand that Seattle’s passive, deferential driving style is actually wonderful, especially compared to the alternative. A person driving defensively might annoy you, but a person driving aggressively might kill you. And most people in Seattle drive very defensively. I now show my appreciation with a big smile and wave.
I know, I know, anecdotes are not data, and the Allstate data appears to show that Seattle drivers suck real bad. Well, let’s look a bit closer. Continue reading