When you think of California traffic, you probably think of the infamous Los Angeles traffic jams. But one study suggests looking farther north. San Francisco ranked as the most dangerous large city for drivers in all of California. Researchers looked at a variety of factors, including car accident fatality rates and the overall frequency of collisions. Interestingly, 14 of the top 20 most dangerous cities in the state are in Southern California, but San Francisco still managed to beat the odds and come in first. Here’s everything you need to know about the potential dangers of driving in the Bay Area.
San Francisco traffic patterns
It’s no secret that San Francisco is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. You can thank Silicon Valley for much of that, as the rise of tech companies has led to rents that are some of the most expensive in the world. You can easily pay $2,500 a month in San Francisco for a mere studio apartment. While people who work in technology can afford those kind of prices, a lot of middle-class workers are getting squeezed out of the city entirely.
But the city still has good jobs, even if the rents are sky-high. That often means people have to drive a long way out of the city just to find a house or apartment that they can afford. It’s no wonder that the Bay Area has one of the top five worst commute times in the entire country. The average round-trip commute is nearly an hour in San Francisco. If that’s the average, that means there are going to be days when people who work in the city but live in the suburbs have to sit in traffic for two or three hours.
San Francisco roads
The road quality in the Bay Area also leaves a lot to be desired. Silicon Valley has a lot of money, but that money isn’t going into things like road maintenance. If you cross the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, then you’ll end up in Oakland, which is home to the worst roads in the entire country. Between Oakland and San Francisco, 71 percent of all roads are considered to be in poor shape. The roads simply weren’t built to carry all the cars that drive around the Bay Area each day.
There are always going to be drivers who don’t pay enough attention to what’s in front of them. Distracted driving is a huge issue that’s only gotten bigger in the age of smartphones. But when you combine bad roads with ridiculous commutes, then you end up with drivers who are constantly on edge, and these drivers are more likely to lose focus and end up in an accident. It only takes a second for something seemingly minor to go wrong and lead to a major car accident. San Francisco car accident lawyers will continue to stay busy unless the Bay Area makes significant strides to fix both the roadways and the housing crunch.
What drivers can do
From the outside looking in, it’s easy to tell Bay Area residents that they should just move to a city with better roads and a more reasonable cost of living. But so many people move to San Francisco and immediately fall in love with the area despite its problems. For those residents, moving simply isn’t an option. Their best bet is getting out of town occasionally. Go north on U.S. Highway 101 for the Oregon Coast experience. If lakes are more your style, head east on Interstate 80 for 200 miles until you arrive at Lake Tahoe.
But if you can’t get out of town, your best bet is to stay as alert as possible when driving. You have no control over what other people will do when they’re driving down the winding roads of San Francisco. You can, however, put away your cell phone and make getting to your destination safely your first priority.