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Virtually every working professional has some sort of commute to work in the mornings. Whether yours is a lengthy one from the suburbs to the city or just a mile down the road, auto insurance is a must, as operating a vehicle is one of the most dangerous activities individuals participate in daily.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents or highway fatalities account for 93 percent of transportation-related deaths.
Because of the dangers associated with commuting, we decided to check out which cities have the least amount of driving time to and from work. The following are the top 10 midsize cities with the shortest commute time.
1. Lubbock, Texas
With a population of 294,530 and an average daily commute of 16 minutes, Lubbock is our top pick for drivers who prefer to spend less time sitting behind the wheel. Unlike larger metropolitan cities, such as Dallas and Houston, life here moves at a slower pace—but fortunately that doesn’t apply to the traffic. Lubbock, the birthplace of legendary singer Buddy Holly, is known as the Hub City, serving as the economic and health care center for the Staked Plains region. It’s also a great location for small business owners. Forbes included Lubbock on its list of Best Places for Business and Careers in 2015 and also noted that the cost of living is 4.7 percent below the national average.
2. Fargo, North Dakota/Minnesota
The Fargo metro area, which includes one county in North Dakota and one in Minnesota, boasts a 17-minute average commute and a population of 213,718. Ranked as the United States’ fourth fastest-growing small city by Forbes in 2014, Fargo still manages to keep its small-town feel. And the distinct “Minnesota Nice” accent, made famous by the movie “Fargo,” isn’t the only thing that makes this metro area a great place to live and work. Fargo’s downtown area has been going through revitalization, with an emerging dining, arts and entertainment scene. And for those living on the North Dakota side of the metro area, making a living in this part of the country looks pretty attractive, due to low unemployment and crime rates, combined with a rise in income and jobs, according to Forbes.
3. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
To drive to Chicago from the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana is a quick two-hour trip. The drive to work for locals is considerably shorter—an average of 18 minutes. Even with a population of 233,039 and the University of Illinois in the heart of the metro area, getting from Point A to Point B isn’t a hassle, thanks to the award-winning municipal bus system—the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. And there’s plenty more to brag about here besides the public transportation. A tradition in Champaign is the Ebertfest, an annual film festival founded by the late Roger Ebert to celebrate film in all its forms.
4. Lincoln, Nebraska
Nebraska’s state capital boasts, according to Kiplinger, a low cost of living and low unemployment, as well as an average commute of only 18 minutes. Similar to Champaign-Urbana, Lincoln is home to a major university—the University of Nebraska. According to Sports Illustrated, during football season on sell-out game days, the school’s Memorial Stadium could be considered the third largest city in Nebraska, with a maximum capacity of 92,000. Almost one-third of Lincoln’s population—306,697 residents—could occupy the stadium. Outside the university, Lincoln is home to some unique museums, including the National Museum of Roller Skating and the Museum of American Speed.
5. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city. The 233,750 residents here enjoy an average 18-minute commute to work. According to Forbes’ 2015 list of Best Places for Business and Careers, Sioux Falls came in at No. 3 for small towns. Not to mention a 2014 list of economic strength from the POLICOM Corporation, an independent economic research firm specializing in the analysis of local and state economies, listed Sioux Falls as No. 8 in the nation. And it’s not just the economic stability that makes Sioux Falls an enviable place to live. For nature lovers, the Falls Park—which spans 123 acres—is a must-see. It features an on-site Farmer’s Market and the Overlook Café, as well as recreational biking and walking trails.
Known as the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” Amarillo is the 14th largest city in the state, with a population of 254,583. Here you’re likely to spend no more than 19 minutes getting to work on any given day. With less time spent in traffic, residents of Amarillo are able to enjoy everything this quintessential Texas town has to offer. We’re all familiar with the saying, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That’s especially true for Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch, which serves a world-famous 72-ounce steak. Almost 30,000 people have tried to win the steak challenge—finishing the massive meal in less than an hour for a free dinner. Of those food gladiators, only 4,800 finished with a clean plate.
7. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The second largest city in Iowa, Cedar Rapids has a population of 260,033 and an average commute of 19 minutes. That gives locals more time to enjoy the city’s many recreational areas. With 74 parks and four golf courses, there’s always something to do in the “City of Five Seasons.” The town’s slogan is a reference to the distinct seasons Cedar Rapids enjoys, as well as a “fifth season,” which is simply a reminder to enjoy the seasons as they pass. When the weather turns chilly and staying indoors is more appealing than being outside, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art—which houses the iconic “American Gothic” painting—and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre are great cultural excursions.
8.College Station-Bryan, Texas
College Station-Bryan is “Aggieland”—as in the Texas A&M University Aggies. The city boasts a commute of 19 minutes for a population of 231,417. According to Kiplinger, the metro area has great schools, low crime and property tax rates and affordability. Kiplinger has also called College Station-Bryan one of the best places to raise a family in the U.S. on multiple occasions, and it’s easy to see why. College Station is home to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, as well as more than 1,400 acres of park and sports facilities. Its sister city, Bryan, offers small-town charms, such as horse-drawn carriage rides, quaint downtown shops and the Old Bryan Marketplace.
9.Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Iowa/Illinois
Known as the Quad Cities, the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island metro area consists of two Iowa cities, Davenport and Bettendorf, and three Illinois cities, Moline, East Moline and Rock Island. You read that correctly; the Quad Cities is actually comprised of five cities. The population of this metro area amounts to 381,142 with an average commute of 19 minutes. The metropolitan area has several claims to fame, including its own style of pizza. In the Quad Cities, the toppings go under the cheese, and the pizza is cut into strips, not slices. Like many relocators looking for a fresh start here, former President Ronald Reagan had his start in radio at WOC in Davenport. Other famous faces, including professional golfers Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, are known to show up in the Quad Cities for the annual PGA John Deere Classic.
The city of Erie—named after Lake Erie and the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived on its south shore—is the fourth largest city in the state, with a population of 280,518. The daily commute for the metro area averages about 19 minutes, giving residents a low-stress trek to work. History buffs love the Erie Maritime Museum and its replica of the U.S. Brig Niagara. Art lovers can make a day of checking out more than 7,000 exhibits at the Erie Art Museum. Not surprisingly, Lake Erie is a popular attraction, especially for boating enthusiasts and fishermen. The cool lake breezes keep summer days from getting too hot to enjoy the beaches and lake recreation at Presque Isle State Park—the largest state park in Pennsylvania.
Commuting and Car Insurance
No matter how long your daily commute is, having reliable auto insurance is imperative because incidents can occur on the shortest of commutes. Car insurance may help pay for property damage and resulting medical expenses of another party when you’re responsible for a wreck; damage resulting from you colliding with an object, such as a guard rail or telephone pole; and/or damage that occurs from being struck by an uninsured or underinsured driver, depending on the specifics of your policy.
Though almost every state (49 out of 50) requires drivers to have auto liability insurance, there are people on the road who choose to let their policies lapse or refuse to get insurance altogether. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly one out of every eight drivers in the country doesn’t have car insurance.
Speak to a licensed insurance agent to ensure you have a policy that protects you in a range of situations so you can have peace of mind when you’re on the road. Review your liability limits and consider setting them higher than the state-required minimums, which can fall short depending on the severity of your collision. It’s easy to calculate how expensive it will be to fix parts of the car, but when injuries are involved, costs can skyrocket. Review your policy with your provider in order to feel confident that you’re covered no matter the situation.
The source for this data (both average commute time and population statistics) was the American Community Survey 2013 five-year estimates compiled by the U.S Census Bureau. The data was filtered to include only cities with populations between 200,000 and 400,000 people. The list was then ranked by shortest average commute to work (in minutes).
For the purpose of the survey, average commute to work (in minutes) is defined as: “Mean travel time to work (in minutes) is the average travel time that workers usually took to get from home to work (one way) during the reference week.”
This measure is obtained by dividing the total number of minutes taken to get from home to work (the aggregate travel time) by the number of workers 16 years old and older who did not work at home. The travel time includes time spent waiting for public transportation, time spent picking up passengers and carpools, as well as time spent on other activities related to getting to work. The aggregate travel time to work used to calculate mean travel time to work is rounded.