PotentialCarAccidentLawsuitAn interesting recent article in Slate asked the question, “Which U.S. City has the Worst Drivers?” The authors studied the 200 largest cities in the country, and using a complicated matrix of measures (which is explained in a useful spreadsheet) they compiled the list of shame. Miami was the worst by a wide margin, followed by Philadelphia, Hialeah, Tampa, and Baltimore. I see two possible patterns here. Obviously, three of the five cities are in Florida so either: a) the heat makes people drive badly (unlikely); the larger number of elderly drivers makes for a dangerous environment (possible); or Latinos are reckless drivers (Hialeah and Miami are overwhelmingly Latino, but then so are many cities in Texas and California, which were generally rated as much safer). As for  Baltimore and Philadelphia, both have high poverty rates (Philadelphia has the highest percentage living in poverty of any major U.S. city). Are poorer people less law-abiding drivers, or is it simply that a poorer city has less ability to enforce traffic laws? My guess is the latter. For example, Philadelphia is a city where cars regularly park on downtown sidewalks. Speed limits are rarely enforced. Laws are flouted as a matter of course, and nobody, but nobody, actually stops at STOP signs. I remember that one year in my district, the police started ticketing cars that were parked “on the wrong side of the street,” i.e. facing traffic. There was an immediate outcry–it was unfair, we’ve always done it this way, it’s our neighborhood we can do what we want, etc. The police stopped issuing tickets.


  • Johns Carey says:

    I live in Florida which has more octogenarian drivers than the other 56 states combined. Certainly elderly drivers contribute to the stats, but at any moment it seems as if half the drivers are not from here and half of those aren’t even from this country and assume what passes for traffic laws or etiquette in their homeland, goes here as well. When I lived in Orlando, Hell was being in the exact change lane behind a driver of a white late model midsized sedan (rental) whose driver couldn’t make the gate go up after throwing a handful of rupees, drachmas, or pesos and a small sacrificial goat into the toll basket. I am sure my ineloquence at navigating those Euro-weeny, demonic, socialistic traffic circles proves just as vexing to them when driving in their backyards.

  • Peter says:

    Most of the latinos in other states are Mexicans, this group is very very very different the the latinos in Florida ( caribeans, and south americans basicaly). This explains a lot of things.
    In Miami even the people who drive Porches, Ferraris…etc do not follow any traffic law.

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