Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New report: Car/pedestrian accidents, by state and city

Now for a related topic: Your odds of getting run over.

Transportation for America, a group that advocates for safer streets, has just put out a report ranking cities on how dangerous they are for car/pedestrian accidents.

The most striking thing about the data is that the top four most-dangerous cities are all in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville, in that order.

In fact, the most dangerous metropolitan areas tend to be in the South: Memphis, Raleigh, Louisville, Houston, Birmingham and Atlanta. And if you're thinking that it's because more people walk there, the report says, that's not necessarily the case. Orlando, for example, has "a very low proportion of residents walking to work" -- 1.3 percent -- but a very high pedestrian fatality rate.
In other words, the few people who do walk in Orlando face a relatively high risk of being killed by a vehicle.
The real problem, the report says, is often poorly designed roads that force pedestrians to walk along -- or cross -- arterials.

Here in Washington state, the most dangerous metro area is Yakima, although its "pedestrian danger index" of about 81 is relatively low compared to the cities listed above. Next-worst are the Tri-Cities, Bellingham and Vancouver. Spokane and Olympia rank relatively well, and Lewiston has a perfect record: No pedestrian fatalities in 2007 or 2008.

Interesting report from State Farm: Your odds of hitting a deer, by state

For any driver who's ever nervously eyed the roadside for reflected eyes at night, State Farm has some interesting data. Overall, the insurer says, your odds of hitting a deer in the next year are 1 in 209. (The company helpfully includes a yardstick: your odds of being audited by the IRS are 1 in 100.)

But the rates (of deer collisions) vary dramatically by state. In Hawaii, good luck even finding a deer. The odds there are 1 in 10,962. (92 people apparently managed nonetheless.)

In West Virginia, however, you might want to install what the Australians call 'Roo Bars. The odds of hitting a deer there in any given year, State Farm says, are an astounding 1 in 45.

And here in Washington state? 1 in 516.

Here to help is Washington's Department of Transportation, which put up a very good blog post detailing why the deer tend to come out of the woods at this time of year and what do do when speeding toward them. The short form: watch for brake lights or slow-moving cars ahead, know that where you see one deer there are often more close by, and, if a collision is imminent, try to drive straight and not swerve.

And if you really love stats, here, also courtesy of WSDOT's blog, is the mother lode of deer/car data in Washington.

(And yes, we know that's an elk in the photo. It's just what we had handy at the time.)

Insurance news: Study says no big rise in premiums, MI lawmakers target auto coverage costs, Passaic NJ thinking of billing insurers for firefighting

Seattle Times: Women’s insurance amendment gets first Senate vote

Car insurance scofflaws raise health mandate doubt

NY Times: Report cites big shortfall in reserves at AIG

No big cost rise in U.S. premiums is seen in study

(Spokane, WA) Spokesman-Review: Hospitals awaiting reform assurances

Michigan: House Democrats unveil plan to cut auto insurance rates: The legislative plan would require insurance companies to offer low-cost auto insurance to low-income drivers with good driving records. The 10-bill package also would:
• Prohibit insurance companies from using some factors to set rates, such as drivers’ level of education, their occupations and personal credit ratings.
• Prohibit auto insurance rate increases for those with good driving records who are not at fault in accidents. • Allow the state insurance commissioner to deny rate hikes by insurance companies before the rates take effect, and order refunds for consumers who are charged too much.

NJ: City of Passaic is considering billing insurers for firefighting costs: $500 for a home and $25k for a business.