The 15 American Cities Where Drivers Can’t Handle the Snow

Driving in snowy and icy conditions isn’t easy. You can do all the things to get your car ready for the snow and sidestep the worst winter road trip mistakes and still have problems. Things are even worse if the drivers around you aren’t prepared for the conditions. Thanks to research done by Allstate, we know the U.S. cities where the drivers can’t handle the snow.

Every corner of the country has cities with terrible winter drivers, but one portion of the U.S. has it the worst. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for the outlier at No. 9.

15. Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a city where drivers can't handle the snow.

Snow blankets the University of Cincinnati campus. | Photo courtesy of the University of Cincinnati

Average snowfall: 14 inches

Population: 301,301

The Queen City is one of the most fun cities in America, but the good times end pretty quickly after a fender bender. According to the Allstate data, Cincinnati drivers file claims every 6.8 years, but the national average is every 10 years. They also do more hard braking to avoid accidents than most drivers.

Next: Let’s head upriver.

 14. Pittsburgh

A look at downtown Pittsburgh.

Imagine navigating Pittsburgh’s hills when they’re covered in ice and snow. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 27 inches

Population: 302,407

We just visited the banks of the Ohio River when we swung by Cincinnati. Drivers can’t handle the snow a few hundred miles upstream in Pittsburgh. The hilly terrain and the large amount of snow that falls each year combine to make the Steel City a tough place to drive in the winter.

Next: The winter driving is another knock on this city.

13. Newark, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey.

Drivers who can’t handle the snow is just another knock on Newark. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 26 inches

Population: 285,154

It’s one of the most corrupt cities in America, it’s a terrible place for retirement, and the airport is one of the worst in the United States. When winter comes, Newark drivers really struggle with the conditions. They file insurance claims every 6.7 years, and that doesn’t account for accidents where they don’t contact the insurance company. They slam on the brakes to avoid crashes 30.5 times every 1,000 miles, which is much higher than the national average of 19.

Next: When snow falls, it’s a problem.

12. Seattle

Seattle downtown and the Space Needle.

Crowded roads make winter driving tough in Seattle. | aiisha5/iStock/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 5 inches

Population: 724,745

Nobody wants to live in Seattle because it’s expensive and overpopulated, and the drivers on the crowded roads can’t handle the snow. The Emerald City doesn’t get a ton of snow each winter, but it’s a problem when it falls. Drivers in Seattle brake harder more often and file more insurance claims than the rest of the country.

Next: The drivers are already dangerous before the snow hits.

11. Atlanta

Traffic and winter weather in Atlanta.

Atlanta and its drivers can’t handle the snow. | Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

 

Average snowfall: 1 inch

Population: 486,290

Georgia already has enough dangerous drivers all over the road, and as the largest city, Atlanta has its fair share. And since snow is so rare, drivers can’t handle the snow when it falls. Snowstorms in 2011 and 2014, which cities in other parts of the country would shrug off, crippled Atlanta and made it a national joke.

Next: Car mechanics love it.

10. Bridgeport, Connecticut

A woman crosses a snowy street in Connecticut.

Winter weather is no joke in Connecticut. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 32 inches

Population: 146,579

Bridgeport is one of the worst places to rent a house or apartment, and since drivers can’t handle the snow, it’s one of the worst places to get behind the wheel in winter. Folks in Bridgeport file insurance claims every 6.2 years (the national average is 10 years), but auto mechanics love the hard-driving residents. They jam on the brakes to avoid an accident nearly 35 times every 1,000 miles, which comes out to once every 28.5 miles. More braking equals more brake repairs, and that leads to more business for the mechanics. Ka-ching!

Next: When it snows, you better look out.

9. Portland, Oregon

biker in portland, oregon

A lot of bikers free up the roads in Portland, but drivers struggle in the snow. | Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 3 inches

Population: 647,805

Portland averages about three inches of snow each winter, and that’s part of the problem. Severe winter weather is so infrequent that drivers can’t handle the snow when it shows up. They hit the brakes hard more than 22 times every 1,000 miles to avoid accidents. The saving grace is that Portland is one of the bike-friendliest cities in the U.S., so there are fewer people behind the wheel.

Next:  Keep your head on a swivel.

8. Philadelphia

A woman checks her smart phone

Philadelphia drivers do a lot of braking. | John Moore/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 15 inches

Population: 1.58 million

You have to keep your head on a swivel if you’re driving through the snow in Philadelphia. Drivers can’t handle the snow in the City of Brotherly love. Some narrow streets, diagonal roads forming weird intersections, and the odd roundabout every so often don’t help the cause. Drivers in Philly hit the brakes hard 42 times every 1,000 miles, or once every 23.8 miles.

Next: It’s bad now, and it will only get worse.

7. Alexandria, Virginia

People shoveling snow in Virginia.

Winter weather impacts drivers in Alexandria. | Karen Bleier /AFP/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 15 inches

Population: 160,035

Between the crashes involving insurance claims and the hard braking, Alexandria is one of the places where drivers can’t handle the snow. It’s bad now, and it’s only going to get worse. The Washington, D.C., suburb will be one of the biggest U.S. metro areas by 2046, so there are going to be more drivers and more accidents in the future.

Next: Tough winter driving in this east coast city.

6. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island.

Winter weather driving is tough in tightly-packed Providence. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 36 inches

Population: 180,393

Pardon the pun, but it’s a perfect storm that makes winter driving so tough in Providence. It’s a tightly packed city, so people are closer together. Also, some winding streets and weird intersections complicate driving even in the best conditions. Plus, it gets about 10 inches more snow than the national average of 26 inches. Put it all together, and you get a city where drivers can’t handle the snow.

Next: Is distracted driving a problem?

5. Springfield, Massachusetts

A pizza delivery man rides his bicycle through the snowy streets.

Springfield has some of the worst winter weather drivers in the U.S. | Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 42 inches

Population: 154,758

Is distracted winter driving a problem in Springfield? Some of the figures in the Allstate research can support that claim. Drivers in Springfield aren’t slamming on the brakes much more often than drivers elsewhere, about 23 times per 1,000 miles compared to 19. However, they file with insurance almost twice as often by going 5.3 years between claims instead of 10. Maybe they don’t see the accidents before they happen? Of course, the 42 inches of snow each year doesn’t help the cause, either.

Next: No matter how you say it, the drivers can’t handle the snow.

4. Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts pinned on a map.

No matter how you say it, winter driving is a challenge in Worcester. | iStock.com

Average snowfall: 55 inches

Population: 185,677

No matter how you say it, drivers struggle with winter weather in this hard-to-pronounce city. The city in central Massachusetts has drivers who hit the brakes harder and file more insurance claims than elsewhere in the United States. Add in nearly five feet of snow each year, and it makes things even worse in Worcester.

Next: The streets are hard to navigate in the best weather.

3. Washington, D.C.

A US Postal Service carrier delivers mail during a snow storm.

The street system and the density in D.C. lead to tough driving in the winter. | Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 13 inches

Population: 693,972

The roundabouts, angling streets, and incomprehensible labeling system make driving in Washington tough even in fair weather. When you add snow, sleet, and ice into the mix, it makes things even worse. D.C. drivers go less than four years between insurance claims, which is one of the worst rates in the country. Allstate ranks Washington No. 198 out of 200 among cities where drivers can’t handle the snow.

Next: We wouldn’t want to drive these streets in pristine conditions.

2. Boston

Boston roads after a snowstorm.

Boston has a ton of drivers who can’t handle the snow. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 52 inches

Population: 685,094

Look at a map of Boston’s streets, and you might think you’re looking at a plate of spaghetti. The old part of town, especially, is all twisting, narrow streets and weirdly shaped intersections. Imagine trying to navigate those roads after a massive snowstorm, and you see part of the problem. Even though one study says Boston isn’t the worst driving city, Beantown drivers struggle in winter weather, according to Allstate.

Next: The No. 1 city where drivers can’t handle the snow.

1. Baltimore

Cars buried in snow.

Baltimore drivers have trouble with sleet and snow. | Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Average snowfall: 19 inches

Population: 611,648

Baltimore is the worst of the 200 cities Allstate ranked for winter driving, and the research bears that out. Drivers file insurance claims nearly three times as often as the national average (every 3.8 years compared to every 10 years), and they ride the brakes hard.

Charm City has some similarities to several of the other cities in the top 10. It’s a densely-populated old city on the east coast that gets a lot of snow each year. Plus, the professional sports venues and many of the tourist attractions are in the same general area. When you cram people and their cars into a small space, you’re just asking for more collisions.

Average snowfall figures courtesy of Sperling’s Best Places. Population figures are 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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