DC Has Worst Drivers But Safe For Pedestrians

The nation's capital is the worst place to drive in the country. But it's a surprisingly safe place to walk.

The nation’s capital is the worst place to drive in the country. But it’s a surprisingly safe place to walk.

Atlantic Wire (“Though D.C. Has the Worst Drivers, It’s Pretty Safe to Walk There“):

Washington D.C. has notoriously bad motorists. But, for a metro area consistently at the top of annual “worst” drivers surveys, it ranks lower in a pedestrian fatality study than one might presume. Meaning, commuters may be failing to understand basic road etiquette, but they aren’t necessarily taking out as many pedestrians while they’re doing so.


When we asked Transportation For America communications director David Goldberg about D.C.’s ranking in the fatalities study, he remarked that the city had invested in larger sidewalks, signalized crossing and marked pedestrian crossings. The metro area has “more pedestrian safety infrastructure than a lot of other places,” he figured. Which could be an additional reason why D.C. pedestrians are able to shield themselves from D.C.’s poor drivers.

Additionally, the roads are gridlocked from 7 in the morning until 9 in the evening, making it nearly impossible to achieve ramming speed.

Photo by Flickr user DHouv under Creative Commons license.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Boyd says:

    Not to mention that a lot of DC’s gridlock is in areas removed from pedestrians. While there are a significant number of “downtown” areas in the DC vicinity, the huge majority of well-traveled roads in the area just don’t have pedestrians on them.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    The problem with DC is many of the drivers learned to drive someplace else and bring their bad habits with them. Someone who learned to drive in the rural or suburban south does not know how to get over three or four lanes to make an exit. Someone from Boston wants to honk a horn when everyone is stuck in traffic. Someone from New Jersey will constantly change lanes. Someone from a small town is not use to looking in all directions for the traffic lights. There are also the contraflow lanes, the HOV lanes, and the alternating parking.

    At least more of the population in Boston actually learned to drive in Boston.