Arizona cities among best in country for motorists

PHOENIX -- Sure. You may hate driving in Arizona.

The traffic. The noise. All the other bad drivers.

But a new report suggests that Arizona cities are among the best in the country for motorists.

Really.

It's not because WalletHub actually went out and looked at how Arizonans are driving. About the closest they came to that is looking at accident rates as compared to the national average.

Instead, the web-based financial advice firm analyzed what it says are 21 key metrics, including those accidents, to figure out which cities are the best for folks behind the wheel.

And Scottsdale came in first in the entire country.

Tucson is No. 2. But Gilbert, Mesa and Chander came in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

And while Glendale held down the bottom of the Arizona list, it still ranked No. 15 of the 100 cities studied.

Some of the reason Arizona communities ranked so high is that WalletHub concluded the state has the toughest laws and punishments against drunk drivers in the nation. That includes not just jail time but mandatory license suspension and a requirement that convicted motorists install an interlock that prevents a vehicle from starting unless the driver produces a "clean' breath sample.

The state also scored high among the quality of its bridges -- especially when compared with older infrastructure in rust-belt states.

But some factors made some cities stand out more than others.

Scottsdale, for example, got a big boost in the rating by having the highest number of car washes on a per capita basis than any other Arizona community.

There also are more car dealerships per resident than other places that WalletHub ranked. And the average commute time to work of 21.8 minutes was also the lowest, with Glendale and Gilbert at the other extreme for Arizona of 26.9 minutes.

And good luck getting your car repaired in Gilbert and Chandler which had the fewest number of repair shops on a per capita basis, not just statewide but nationally.

Tucson got points for having the lowest gas prices. And it had the lowest average annual auto insurance premiums.

But it fell back based on WalletHub concluding that Tucson area residents paid about $200 more for a new car than those in the Phoenix area. And vehicle maintenance costs also are higher, something that might be a surprise given that Tucson has more auto repair shops per resident than other Arizona communities studies.

WalletHub also found that the chances of getting into a crash are the lowest in Mesa, running close to 6 percent below the national average. By contrast, people driving in Phoenix are 7.4 percent more likely than the national average to have an accident.

The worst city for motorists? According to WalletHub, that's Washington, D.C., plagued by heavy traffic, high parking costs, a high number of accidents and relatively few places to get a car fixed.

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