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Dallas Is the Most Dangerous U.S. City for Driving, But Don’t Blame the Drivers

Bad transportation policy is killing us.
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Dallas has the most dangerous drivers in the country. So says Outdoorsy, an RV rental company with a lively blog. The company’s ranking of “The top 10 most dangerous cities for driving” was published in March, although it just made the rounds on social media here over the weekend. (Fort Worth came in sixth on Outdoorsy’s list.)

Before we go any further, I’d attach one big asterisk to this list. Outdoorsy is an RV rental company. It creates viral content like this list to promote its brand. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data Outdoorsy used—the company weighed “each location’s collision likelihood relative to the U.S. average, the total motor vehicle fatalities per 100,000 people, and the percentage of fatal collisions involving a drunk driver” to create the list—are sound enough. But this list exists because Outdoorsy thinks it will make you more likely to rent an RV. It’s not gospel.

With that noted, Outdoorsy isn’t wrong. By almost any metric, Dallas is dangerous for drivers. And for pedestrians and cyclists, but we knew that already. We have a high traffic fatality rate, more than 14 deaths per 100,000 residents annually. Compared to the national average, you’re over 46 percent more likely to get in a car crash in the Dallas area. And anybody who’s driven a car here knows from personal experience: It often sucks.

I wrote earlier this month about how Dallas is developing a Vision Zero plan intended to end all traffic deaths in the city by 2030. Its details are still being finalized, but similar plans in other cities have lowered speed limits, narrowed streets, expanded sidewalks, installed crosswalks, and launched public awareness campaigns to push safer driving habits. That would be a good start toward making our streets safer.

Outdoorsy describes its list as a ranking of “cities with the most and least dangerous drivers.” There are plenty of dangerous, reckless drivers in North Texas. More than 42 percent of fatal collisions in the Dallas area involve a drunken driver, according to Outdoorsy.

As much as every city likes to complain about its drivers, blaming the people behind the wheel ignores what’s really making our streets and highways so lethal. It’s not just bad drivers, but bad transportation policy.

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