New Study Says Boston Isn’t the Worst Driving City

Andrew Burton/Getty Images News
Andrew Burton/Getty Images News

As much as we all love the cities we live in, we also like to argue about how bad it is to drive in them. No matter where you live, the drivers there are the worst, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. In an attempt to bring some facts and data to the table, NerdWallet recently released its own rankings of the worst cities to drive in and declared that Boston is as bad as it gets.

Last week though, WalletHub released its own study using slightly different criteria, and according to that study, Boston actually isn’t the worst. In fact, it’s not even among the five worst. Detroit took fifth place, followed by San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The award for the worst city for drivers went to none other than New York City.

The best city for drivers, on the other hand, is apparently Lubbock, Texas. Rounding out the list of the five best cities were Corpus Christi, Texas, Lincoln, Neb., Greensboro, N.C., and Tucson, Ariz.

The results were calculated using four key dimensions – costs associated with driving, traffic and road conditions, safety, and both driver and car wellness. Driver and car wellness may sound like a vague category, but it included factors like the number of auto repair shops, car washes, dealerships, car shows, car clubs, and the availability of parking. Between the four categories, 21 factors were considered when coming up with the rankings.

WalletHub also broke down some of those factors and provided individual rankings for those. When it comes to the average number of hours spent in traffic delays annually, Bakersfield, Calif. had the best score, followed by Stockton, Calif. Washington, D.C., on the other hand, had the worst score. There was also a tie for second worst between four cities in California – Oakland, Long Beach, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

When it comes to how likely you are to get into an accident, Boise, Idaho, is about as safe as it gets, and Kansas City, Mo., is a close second. Boston has the highest likelihood that you’ll get into an accident, followed by Washington, D.C. It may not have won the award as worst overall, but being the city where you’re most likely to get into an accident has to at least be some sort of a consolation prize for the proud citizens of Massachusetts.

If you’re worried about your car being stolen, though, the list of best and worst cities looks a lot different. Irvine, Calif., and Gilbert, Ariz., are the two safest, while Detroit, Mich., and Oakland, Calif., are the least safe. The two cities where your car is most likely to get stolen probably aren’t very surprising, but what is surprising is that New York City is third on the list of safest cities, not the list of least safe cities. It might defy expectations, but the rate of car thefts in New York is actually pretty low.

One of the more interesting categories that WalletHub considered is how many car repair shops there are per person. Miami and Orlando, Fla., had the most, while Laredo, Texas, and Boston had the fewest. Drivers don’t always think about how many repair shops are in their area, and if a lot of people are forced to use only a few shops, it can leave a driver stranded for a significant length of time if their car breaks down.

Another one of the less-obvious categories included in the study was how many car washes there were per person in each city. Washing a car doesn’t necessarily improve how it handles, despite the minuscule improvement in drag you might be able to achieve. It is, however, an important part of car maintenance, and having access to a car wash is important for owners who don’t have the space to do it themselves. Orlando, Fla., and Las Vegas apparently have all the car washes you could want, but Boston and New York City are as bare as it gets.

Definitively declaring one city as the worst for drivers is always difficult, especially because what’s important to one driver might not be as important to another. Whether Boston is worse than New York City or New York City is worse than Boston, neither city is what you would consider friendly to cars. Luckily, you don’t have to own a car in order to get around either Boston or New York City. People who live in cities that scored better on the list may actually find themselves in a worse position if they don’t have the opportunity to take public transportation everywhere.

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