Wherever I go, there's always someone to tell me that their city features the world's worst drivers. It's like a point of pride - "You wussies in [city X] have it easy. Here in [city Y], only the strong survive the freeways!" Well, here's a little empirical evidence to help you out the next time you engage in one of these debates.
Who would have thought it? Laredo, a historically wild and woolly border town just across the Rio Grande from a continuing drug war, is the safest city in Texas to drive in. And fellow border cities Brownsville and El Paso are right up there.
At the other end of the risk pool, you're more likely to have a collision in Dallas than any other Texas city. Its suburbs of Carrollton, Grand Prairie, Garland, Irving and Mesquite are almost as bad.
Or so says Allstate Insurance Co., whose 2006 report on "America's Best Drivers" is at least a conversation-starter.
The company based the findings on its own policyholders' accident claims in 2003 and 2004. Because Allstate has a 12 percent share of the market, its clients are probably typical of drivers around the country, said the company's Texas spokeswoman, Kim Whitaker, in Dallas.
The report compares the average number of years between car crashes for residents of 200 U.S. cities. The national average is about 10 years, it says.
The safest city of all, it found, was Sioux Falls, S.D., where drivers average 14.3 years between collisions. For Laredo, the interval was 10.8 years, 34th-best overall.
Houston, where the average span of crash-free driving was eight years, ranked 163rd among the 200, but fifth among the biggest cities, beating out Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.