New report ranks Baton Rouge 2nd most dangerous U.S. city for drivers _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Baton Rouge Police, EMS and fire department officials work the scene of a crash involving a sedan and SUV at the intersection of North Boulevard and St. Joseph Street, Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in Baton Rouge, La. According to a police spokesperson, the driver of the sedan was driving eastbound on North Boulevard when the driver of the SUV disregarded the stop sign on northbound St. Joseph Street, causing the crash. Police issued the driver of the SUV a citation in the crash.

In a study that surfaced Monday, Baton Rouge ranks as the second most dangerous city in the nation for drivers.

Louisiana’s capital ranks behind only Detroit in a study of the 200 most populous cities done by NerdWallet, a financial education center.

The group looked at five metrics: the rate of fatal crashes; the likelihood of a wreck relative to other cities; number of years between crashes; the risk of auto break-ins; and the risk of having a vehicle stolen.

Those scores were then linked to annual auto insurance rates.

The review said Baton Rouge had 38 fatal crashes in 2014, well under the 110 in Detroit. However, Baton Rouge had a rate of 16.6 fatal crashes per 100,000 residents, tops in the survey.

The average annual auto insurance rate in Baton Rouge was $2,624, according to NerdWallet.

After Baton Rouge, other problem cities listed were Baltimore; Springfield, Massachusetts; and San Bernardino, California.

The five safest cities to drive in are Cary, North Carolina; Boise, Idaho; Fort Collins, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; and Santa Clarita, California, according to the review.

A group pushing for Baton Rouge-area road improvements, the Capital Region Industry for Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, seized on the study.

“Yet another report has independently verified what Baton Rouge-area drivers unfortunately know based on experience,” Scott Kirkpatrick, executive director of CRISIS, said in a prepared statement.

“Which is that our roads are not only the worst in the state but among the worst in the nation for traffic congestion, road conditions and now safety for drivers according to this new study,” Kirkpatrick said.

CRISIS officials said a 2015 report ranked Baton Rouge as third worst in the nation for average annual commuter travel delays amid mid-sized cities and 11th worst nationally for road conditions.

The study said auto industry rates are 47 percent more expensive in the cities most dangerous to drive in than the safest — $1,721 annually compared with $1,169.

Also, 13 of the 20 most dangerous cities to drive in are in the South or on the East Coast, while 12 of the 20 safest cities are in the Midwest and West.

Louisiana has a $12.7 billion backlog of road and bridge needs.

Previous efforts to make sweeping improvements have failed in the Legislature.

On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order aimed at coming up with solutions.

Edwards named a task force to study transportation problems and how to solve them, with a report due Jan. 1.

Any recommendations then would be tackled during the 2017 regular legislative session.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.

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