Sacramento drivers are the worst in the country’s big metropolitan areas, a study published last week claims.
But are we really? There’s no real evidence of it.
The study, done by an insurance industry business, looks more like a case of trendy self-promotion by a company. What you do is grab some hot-button issue, toss together a few data points and then come out with some definitive-sounding ranking that you figure will catch some eyes.
For instance, one magazine this year announced reader poll results that Sacramentans are the second ugliest people in the country (behind Baltimoreans).
We asked Chris Cochran of the state Office of Traffic Safety about the trend. He came close to calling it fake news.
“These types of studies make excellent headlines for the media and indirect promotion for the businesses, but they do no real service to the driving public nor the cities,” he wrote us.
The company that said we are the worst drivers appears to be basing it on some crash numbers and citation data. I couldn’t reach them to ask for details on how they did their analysis, and they don’t offer any corroboration on their web page. Cochran said he believes the data may be based only on people who used their website.
Another study, from Allstate insurance, came out the same day saying drivers here are the 140th safest out of the 200 largest metro areas. That one appears to be simply based on how often Allstate-insured drivers submit claims, even for superficial scrapes.
So, really, it’s just about how often Allstate’s clients want the company to pay for something. In Sacramento, that’s once every eight years, a little more frequently than average. Los Angeles residents issue claims once every six years. Boston is most frequent, once every four years.
State traffic safety officials publish more realistic comparison information, based on law enforcement crash data, and on miles driven by motorists in each city. It only compares California cities, and, unfortunately, is only current to 2014 at this point.
But, according to that data, Sacramento drivers rank pretty much in the middle of the pack among the state’s larger cities.
Downtown lane closures
Downtown driving is about to get tougher for the next half-year in the Ninth Street area.
The city has just launched a major storm and sewer pipe replacement project that will involve digging up the street and blocking lanes from G to L streets. At some points, the entire street may be closed, but that is not planned to happen during weekday commute hours.
Preliminary work began last week, and serious digging will start up late this month. Work is expected to continue through April next year. It involves replacing antiquated pipes with new ones. Part of the work will be done by a boring machine that will create space for a bigger pipe without requiring crews to tear up the street pavement above.
The cost will be $5.5 million. That’s $1.1 million per block.
Interestingly, the city has decided to do the work during the Sacramento Kings basketball season. Last year, they suspended similar work on L Street out of fear of parking jams. But traffic at Kings games proved to be less problematic than expected.
City officials will, however, shut the project down during the Thanksgiving to Christmas holiday shopping season.
Next year, the city will do an even larger pipe “upsizing” on Third Street.