Omaha driving: Is It really that bad?

Omaha is ranked worst in the nation for driving, is it deserved?

photo courtesy of 3newsnow.com

photo courtesy of 3newsnow.com

Vincent Towne, Staff Writer

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The constant fender benders, scrapes and bumps of the Millard West parking lot seem to be common practice by the students that park there. Many of them can also relate the seemingly bad driving to what they experience out on the road.

If you complain about your fellow Omaha drivers, now you might have a little something to back you up. A ranking by QuoteWizard, an insurance price comparison website, lists Omaha as having the worst drivers in the nation among the 75 biggest metro areas. Not second worst or third worst, but worst worst.

That makes us worse behind the wheel than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, not to mention cities closer to home such as Denver and Kansas City. Seriously? KC? But let’s not even go there. Before you put up your dukes to defend the honor of Omaha drivers, keep this in mind: The ranking has major limitations. For example, it’s based on self-reported data.

Lee Prindle, an editor at QuoteWizard who oversaw the ranking, said it’s based on four factors for the metro areas: number of accidents, speeding tickets, drunken driving violations and tickets for such things as running a red light. The numbers are based on 2017 data, and the ranking does account for population.

Based on those criteria, Omaha drivers are propelled to the top spot on the bad drivers list of 2018, up from an eighth-place ranking in 2017. The jump was largely due to a year-after-year increase of accidents, speeding and driving violations. This all happened in spite of an overall decrease in the city’s DUI rates.

The nation’s second-worst place for drivers was Riverside, California, which was bumped up from its spot in third place last year, largely due to having the highest DUI rate in the country. In fact, California was home to five of the cities in the top ten list of most dangerous places to drive.

Because all of the statistics that decide the worst cities are self-reported, aside from the DUI information, there is a possibility that the ranking is skewed. When people seek insurance premium quotes from the websites the stats are drawn from, they must provide the number of tickets, accidents and other problems they had while driving. The websites used that self-reported data to come up with the ranking, versus analyzing data from law enforcement agencies. Prindle said such comparative data is hard to come by for metro areas.

A report accompanying the ranking takes a couple playful jabs at Omaha and its “dubious honor of being America’s worst driving city.”

“What’s got Omaha drivers putting the pedal to the metal and crashing into stuff?” the report says. “Are they trying to get to Runza before it closes?”

OK, go ahead and call us bad drivers, but don’t drag Runza into this. Going to the other side of the spectrum, the best driving cities include the likes of Orlando and Miami in Florida at No. 1 and 2, followed closely by El Paso, Texas. That gets us back to that whole self-reported thing. What if all of the “best” cities are just really good at collectively lying. Either way, the people of Omaha may not be the best drivers in the world, speaking from personal experience, but the worst? The data provided in order to make this claim is insufficient at best and is based off of human integrity, which should not convict Omaha of terrible driving.

As Prindle put it: “Are Omaha drivers really that bad, or just more honest?”

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