Beware of Pittsburgh drivers?

Written by Kaitlin O'Dougherty on .


(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

I was on the way to Oakland the other day when I saw a turning car brake suddenly. In this same moment I saw a woman being thrown into the air by the impact of the car hitting her while she crossed the street. I have only lived in Pittsburgh for a little over a month and had already witnessed numerous close calls on the roads, but this collision was not avoided. 

This observation made sense when I saw Allstate's report ranking Pittsburgh as the 178th safest city out of 200. They quoted Pittsburgh at 18.3 “hard braking events” per 1,000 miles. 

When population density was considered in the rankings, Pittsburgh rose to 167th and with rain and snow Pittsburgh moved to 177th, still in the lower percentile.

The city with the safest drivers is Brownsville, Texas, and the worst are located in in Boston, Mass.


(Photo from

Although this report ranked Pittsburgh very low, the roads may have as much to do with accidents as the people do. Pittsburgh is known to have some of the most confusing roadways due to the geography the city was laid over. 

Pittsburgh was mentioned in Reader's Digest as having "bad roads." Bonny Diver, a traffic reporter for Pittsburgh radio stations sums up the confusion on the website.

“In most places the roads are on a grid or in some kind of blocks. Not here. When we first moved to Pittsburgh, I had the map on my lap, but we still ended up going the wrong way down a one-way street, and a police officer stopped us. I said, ‘I’m trying to get to The Carlton. Can you help us?’ And the officer said, ‘No, I’m sorry, it’s too complicated. Just turn around,’” Diver said.

 Pittsburgh blogger Phil Anderson gives some suggestions on his blog The Nonsensical Roads of Pittsburgh on how to become a better driver.

He suggest not slowing down in tunnels as it scares drivers behind you and ultimately slows down the flow of traffic. 

"One day we’ll identify the criminal that starts this every morning, but in the meantime, do your part and don’t use your brakes unless necessary," Mr. Anderson said.

He also said not to wave people on when the light is green in front of you unless necessary. He said this creates a dangerous state of mind for the pedestrian if they get used to this expectation, and presents an obstacle for the cars behind you.

He reminds drivers to stay in both lanes of a road until it officially merges for a lane closure to keep traffic moving. He compares the concept to a zipper because one side of the zipper cannot beat the other.

Mr. Anderson said as a biker he has seen what many people do in their cars while commuting. He said driving is not the time to be putting on makeup or checking Facebook as it is an obvious hazard to those around you. Keeping your eyes on the road is one of the most common tips offered.

Although Pittsburgh is still ranked poorly, we have risen from 185th in 2015. Drivers using caution and taking some of Mr. Anderson's tips into consideration may help us continue to rise. The Steel City likes to be No. 1, and in transportation there is no exception. 




Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.