Columbus and Cincinnati Vie for Worst Traffic Title

Traffic in ColumbusThe worst city in Ohio for traffic congestion is Cincinnati, according to a report based on 2014 data compiled by TomTom Traffic Index. Compared to the rest of the United States, Cincinnati is the 40th most congested. Compared to the rest of Ohio, Cincinnati is not much worse than Columbus which was 42nd worst in the U.S. and second worst in Ohio.

Drivers in Cincinnati spend more than 60 hours behind the wheel unnecessarily. But why Cincinnati is the worst in the state is not spelled out in the TomTom Traffic Index. Just a few years before, however, Columbus had the dubious honor of having the worst congestion in the state, according to 2013 statistics produced by the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Do Bad Drivers Equal More Congestion? Cincinnati Says Yes.

The situations in both cities are probably frustrating to drivers and to civic leaders who wish that there was less pollution in the air and lower road construction costs on the ground. However, this sad state of affairs does not necessarily translate into more traffic accidents. According to Allstate Insurance’s annual report, America’s Best Drivers, Columbus drivers rank 135th in the best drivers list. Cincinnati, in contrast, was ranked 170th in the best driver sweepstakes . That’s a fairly big divide, even if congestion is at similar levels in each city.

  • Dayton ranks 49th
  • Toledo ranks 66th
  • Akron ranks 74th
  • Cleveland ranks 98th

The rankings don’t depend entirely on population size: Cincinnati has fewer people than Columbus, but it apparently has worse drivers, according to Allstate. It can’t be population density, either: Cincinnati is the 169th most densely populated in the United States, while Columbus is the 122nd most densely populated city. In short, it’s not surprising that Cincinnati vaulted to the top of the list last year – all the indicators now point to Cincinnati having the worst traffic.

The most recent Allstate report, covering 2014, has Cincinnati in the top 20 most dangerous cities for driving in the U.S. Columbus did not even make that list.

Although the reasons are not clear, it is probably safer to drive in Columbus than Cincinnati. However, this does not mean that drivers in Columbus are immune from accidents and injuries; remember that the area ranked 135th (compared to Fort Collins, Colorado, which is number 1, and thus has the safest drivers in the country, according to Allstate).

Is Cleveland-Morse the Worst Intersection in Columbus?

Like countries and states, individual cities have places where there are more accidents than others. In Columbus, those places include the intersection of Cleveland and Morse avenues and nine other locations on either Cleveland Avenue or Morse Avenue.

Cleveland-Morse Not the Worst Intersection in Columbus. It’s How You Count.

When this intersection first appeared as the number site for collisions and other incidents, a Columbus blogger pointed out that having the greatest number of accidents does not make an intersection the most dangerous — it all depends on how many vehicles pass through that intersection. It turns out that a very large number of drivers go through the Cleveland-Morse intersection, making its crash rate lower than one might expect.

According to this writer, the most dangerous intersections in the Columbus area, as measured by the crash rate rather than the raw number of crashes, are in outlying areas and suburbs. There are almost no intersections within a two or three mile radius of downtown Columbus that appear on the worst intersections list – if you use the accident rate rather than the raw number of crashes. Why is this?

What’s the Worst Intersection in Cincinnati?

In Cincinnati, the prize for worst intersection goes to Route 126 where it intersects with I-71, according to 2013 data reported by the Ohio Department of Transportation. However, this location is the worst only in terms of the raw number of accidents. When it comes to the most dangerous intersection, the prize goes to I-71 northbound where it merges with Pfeiffer Road.

Why Are Inner City Streets Safer?

Some might think that more accident happen on inner city streets because of the density of traffic. However, the density is precisely why the accident rates on inner city streets, for example, are less. First, drivers in the inner city travel more slowly than their counterparts on arterial streets and highways on the outskirts of the city. Second, there is a smaller volume of traffic on center city streets. More people walk and take public transportation in the downtown area than in more residential neighborhoods. Moreover, the streets have fewer lanes, slowing the volume of traffic. For all these reasons, it appears that the much-maligned intersection of Cleveland and Morse avenues in Columbus may not be so bad.

Many people don’t like to drive downtown, preferring the faster roadways in the suburbs. But it turns out that driving in either downtown is probably safer than one might think.