Driving may come with a wonderful sense of individual freedom, but keeping the roads safe is everyone’s responsibility.
Last year marked another troubling time for Americans on the road. According to the latest estimates, 40,100 lives were lost in motor vehicle accidents.
While the anticipated total marks a 1% decrease from 2016—itself a record-breaking year for roadway fatalities—it still represents more annual car-based deaths than nearly every other year in the past decade.
Still, there were some bright spots among those gloomy figures. Thanks to well-intended rules and law-abiding citizens coming together to make roads more secure, several cities shone as beacons of safe driving.
Statistics website WalletHub recently ranked those dependable examples, crunching data from the country’s 100 most populous cities to determine the safest places to drive.
Considered in the analysis were a number of factors, including:
- The likelihood of an accident within city limits compared to the national average.
- The rate of car theft and number of larceny cases.
- How strictly a city enforced DUI regulations.
- The number of adults that wear seatbelts regularly.
- How many hard-braking incidents occurred in town.
- A city’s overall traffic fatality rate.
If luck favors the prepared, as the old saying goes, hopefully these cities can offer a lesson, allowing us to plan for a future where the fatality rate can continue to drop.
10—San Diego, California
Buttressed by a strong military presence, America’s Finest City certainly feels like a secure place to be—both on and off the roads.
San Diego was recently named one of the safest cities in the entire country, thanks in no small part to its low—and falling—crime rate. That measure also played a big part in why it was ranked the 10th safest for drivers: car theft and larceny are on the decline in the area.
Add in the perma-sunny weather and its gentle touch on roadway conditions, and you’ve got a place where even the pavement is a slice of paradise.
9—Santa Ana, California
Not to be outdone by its sunny southern neighbor, the Orange County city of more than 330,000 also nabbed a spot in the top 10, with its pleasant climate mostly responsible for the honor.
The region may be synonymous with hot, strong winds, but it also offers plenty of sunshine. According to WalletHub, Santa Ana recorded the nation’s 5th fewest days of precipitation last year, leaving roads dry and drivers happy.
This Texas haunt also has a panache for general safeness—it was designated the 8th most secure city in the States last year.
The precaution and penchant for rule abiding there also rubs off on the roads, with the city ranking low for crimes that could negatively impact the streets, such as speeding and driving under the influence.
It’s no surprise that Nevada’s second-safest city is also a particularly problem-free place for drivers. Rates of violent crime—including car theft and larceny—are miniscule in the area, with just two violent crimes reported for every 1,000 residents in all of 2016.
The area also had less rainfall than any other city on the list, giving its roads the boosted benefits of year-round construction availability, less weather-based wear and tear, and drivers traveling under less duress.
6—El Paso, Texas
The border city isn’t just borderline safe for drivers—it was recently hailed as home of the best drivers in all of Texas, and the 12th best drivers in the entire country.
El Paso motorists have been able to avoid many bad habits on the road, helping the area keep speeding and DUI rates low. And, of course, all that safety on the road has led to a lower accident and roadway fatality count than most other cities on the list.
The capital city is a shining beacon of Midwestern manners, with polite drivers keeping roads flowin smoothly—and incident-free.
Madison was the least likely city in the country to see a traffic accident compared to the national average.
Part of that claim may be sheer numbers, though: the city’s residents spent the 5th-lowest amount of time in their cars during congested commuter hours, allowing motorists to keep their sanity—and keep the peace.
Five years ago, the southwestern city launched a safe driving campaign to help rid the streets of speeding, DUI, distracted driving, and other preventable—and regrettable—incidents.
And it seems all the city’s hard work has paid off. Along with its decreasing occurrence of roadway crimes, Gilbert ranked number one for the country’s lowest rate of car theft.
General safety also seemed to manifest on the streets of the Northern California town, located just across the bay from Palo Alto.
The city was recently lauded as one of the safest places in California, thanks in part to its low rate of violent crime. The same willingness to follow the rules has also helped it keep down rates of speeding, car theft, and DUI.
2—Chula Vista, California
The Southern California city, nestled just north of the Mexican border, has also recently put a strong effort into improving not just its roadway safety but also the conditions of its streets.
The campaign focuses on a number of engineering tricks to promote traffic calming. It seems the program also has a beneficial effect for keeping drivers serene—and safe.
The burgeoning Orange County city may be on the rise, but crime there certainly isn’t.
Irvine has regularly been placed on top safest cities lists in the past, and last year, it recorded the 2nd-lowest rate for car theft in the country, according to WalletHub.
The area also benefits from Southern California’s general sunniness—and the myriad benefits that brings to the roads, from easy infrastructure upkeep to more relaxed drivers.
But it’s a good thing Irvine has so much going for it to keep cars safely on the streets—the city ranked 99 out of 100 for worst access to mechanics.