Here’s one thing you can count on: No matter where you live in the country, everyone thinks the local drivers are the worst anywhere. And nobody ever says that drivers are getting better.

But it looks like we’re going to have to (grudgingly) give some credit where credit is due. Seattle drivers, while still pretty awful, have made some impressive strides, at least when it comes to avoiding collisions.

Among 200 U.S. cities, Seattle ranks 155th, according to the 2019 Allstate Best Drivers report, which was released Tuesday. That’s a jump of 24 spots from last year, when we ranked 179th. And before that, in both 2015 and 2016, Seattle placed in the bottom 20.

Allstate ranks drivers by the average amount of time between insurance claims for collisions. Seattle drivers manage to go 7.7 years between crashes, much improved from the 6.4-year average in 2018.

Kudos to Bellevue drivers as well. They jumped from 157th last year to 132nd in 2019 — 25 places higher. In Bellevue, drivers make it 8.3 years between collisions, on average.


The Northwest’s best and worst drivers for 2019

City

Ranking

Years between collisions

Boise 2 13.7
Eugene 34 10.9
Spokane 87 9.2
Salem 102 9
Vancouver 114 8.7
Bellevue 132 8.3
Tacoma 149 7.9
Seattle 155 7.7
Portland 181 7

The Allstate rankings have been something of a roller coaster for Seattle. In its first, 2005, Seattle ranked 163rd. We dropped a couple of places in 2006, but then began to steadily climb in the rankings. We peaked in 2010, when our drivers placed 128th out of 200 (Bellevue’s best-ever ranking was in 2009, a 117th).

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After that, it was all downhill for five straight years. We bottomed out in 2015, ranking a dismal 184th. But since then, we’ve been back on the upswing.

In 2015, Seattle’s drivers were the worst in the Northwest, but since then, Portland has held that dubious distinction. This year, Rose City drivers rank as the 19th worst in the country, which is still something of an improvement from last year, when they were in the bottom 10.

The Northwest’s best drivers are, perennially, in Boise, Idaho, which has always been ranked near the top by Allstate. This year, the city placed No. 2, and Boise drivers go an impressive 13.7 years between collisions.

The top-ranked city for 2019 is Brownsville, Texas.

When I’ve written about Seattle’s lousy Allstate rankings in the past, readers have been quick to point blame at cellphones, newcomers, the constant drizzle and other things. I imagine it will be harder to come up with reasons why our driving has been improving.

Here’s one thought: With all the gridlock, nobody’s moving, thus reducing the number of collisions.

Generally, lowest-ranked cities are larger and more densely populated, and have older infrastructure. This year’s worst drivers are in Baltimore, which edged out Washington, D.C., and Boston. Baltimore drivers only eke out 4.2 years between crashes.