According to the insurance company Allstate, Atlanta is near the bottom of its annual safe cities list. Certainly saying, "Yes, we're 164!" is not exactly something to be proud of these days. Apparently, Atlanta ranks 164 out of 200 cities on "The Good Hands People's" list due to the fact that we're a bit too distracted. Somehow Allstate has found that those of us collectively in the metro area are applying make-up, texting, phoning, gaming, daydreaming, blasting Miley Cyrus a bit more than our brethren in other U.S. cities.
Further, through its research, Allstate found that the average Atlanta driver has an accident every 7.7 years. Obviously the 164 ranking does not bode well with automobile insurance rates nor the metro area's reputation. After all, reputation is important as the region does its best to attract good people and jobs.
The Allstate report is nine years old and for the past three years, Fort Collins, Colorado has ranked at the top of the list as the safest place to drive in America's 200 largest cities. So other cities like Eugene, Oregon or Sioux Falls, South Dakota may gloat all they want, but we have much more to offer when it comes to fine dining, entertainment and shopping. Hey, I'm really trying here. Well, at least we're not Dallas, New York or Los Angeles - ranking at 170, 172 and 181 respectively.
Certainly we can do better, but at the moment, there's little evidence of improvement as I write this one day after some clown was unable to negotiate a sharp turn on the Buford-Spring Connector. Well, you might get the picture as to how that gem ended during rush-hour. It took a few of Atlanta's hero emergency personnel to extract that driver from a ditch. As Allstate's competitor Liberty Mutual explains in the television commercials, "you're only human."
Also included in Allstate's report is some sage advice for driving in bigger and smaller cities. My favorite item on the advice list is, "Allow plenty of time to reach your destination." The words of wisdom that follow that piece of advice make me chuckle with, "Stop-and-go traffic, traffic signal stops, pedestrian walkways and events that create traffic detours can add time to your travel." Good one, "Good Hands People." Didn't y'all know that "stop-and-go traffic" was woven into Atlanta's fabric more than 30 years ago? Talk about being late to the party. "Know what's happening in your city," "Get directions to where you're going" and drum roll: "Stay Alert" fill out the advice box. Actually, Allstate is supplying good advice with those last three. It seems that the majority of Atlanta metro drivers might need those pieces of advice. I also think that Allstate's smaller cities advice is like "Know the rules of the road." It can be confusing in those smaller towns.
Speaking of driving, I heard a certain semi-retired radio personality with the initials N.B. talk about the those high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. OK, I give up: the personality is Neal Boortz. According to a recent report that Neal cited, the majority of those who use the HOT lanes are wealthier. Well, one does not need a report to find that one out, but there are probably some lower-income earners or those on a fixed income who use those lanes. Then there's Neal's former colleague, consumer guru Clark Howard, who would probably find a way to use his scooter in those lanes just to get a deep discount. In reality, I cannot imagine that Clark, a rather wealthy individual himself, would ever use the HOT lanes. It sounds like Neal might be reinforcing some stereotypes, right? The semi-retired radio personality went on to assume that those who pay for the lanes are job creators and people who go to and from work in the dark. I will not get into the meat of that rant, but I have a bigger question: are those HOT lane users more safe on those portions of the freeway than the rest of us -- excluding Clark on his scooter? Now, that's a study that I would like to see.