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Tres Wright, a recently retired Corpus Christi solo, has been in 30 car accidents, but they weren’t all his fault — honest. When he moved to Dallas in 1986 as a new attorney, he admits being involved in five accidents over the course of 17 months. After one wreck, he borrowed a Cadillac from his aunt, and the last thing she said before he drove off was, “Don’t wreck my car.” He wrecked it. Why has he been in so many accidents? “I was always in a hurry to get places. Lawyers are always running behind,” Wright says. Apparently, he’s not alone. Statistics released on Oct. 30, 2003, by Quality Planning Corp. show that, based on occupation, attorneys have the third highest accident rate, behind students and medical doctors. The company ranked 40 occupations by accident rate, basing its estimates on more than 1 million drivers tracked from March 2001 through December 2002; 4,000 attorneys were part of that sample. Dr. Daniel Finnegan, the company’s founder and CEO, says for every 1,000 attorneys it tracked, 106 accidents occurred. Finnegan is a statistician who founded QPC after years of designing software programs for the federal government (including one that, 20 years ago, helped the Internal Revenue Service choose whom to audit). The company mostly works with the auto insurance industry to compare policyholders’ data with other publicly available information to ensure that policyholders are reporting their rating factors properly. He says “[n]o major auto insurer rates on occupation,” although some companies do offer discounts for certain occupations and affinity groups — for example, the United Services Automobile Association provides preferred insurance rates for military officers, and the California Casualty Group offers lower rates on insurance to members of the California Teachers Association. Finnegan says the data his survey unearthed are counter-intuitive. Attorneys’ profiles would suggest a lower accident rate: They have an average age of 38, they’re in a higher income group and they attain a higher-than-average educational level. De Novo conducted a random survey of young Texas lawyers to get their take on the survey results. Christian Tucker, a commercial litigation partner in Fort Worth’s Friedman, Suder & Cooke, says he thinks the survey may indicate that lawyers commute quite a bit and may be on their cell phones a lot. “I’d say you just have a lot of lawyers who spend a lot of time in their car, either going to depositions or whatever. The more time you spend in your car, the more likely you are to get in a wreck.” Bridget Fuselier, a toxic-torts associate with MehaffyWeber’s Beaumont office, says lawyers generally are in a hurry to get places by a certain time, and often get calls on their cell phones and messages on their Blackberries while in the car. Jason Stephens, a partner in Fort Worth’s Stephens & Anderson who practices personal-injury and wrongful-death law, agrees that professionals in general try to multitask in the car and tend to face a lot of pressure and time constraints. But some attorneys are more skeptical of the results. Brett Smith is a partner in Sherman’s Smith and Smith who practices civil litigation, criminal defense and personal-injury law. “Without really reviewing the data, I can’t really question the statistics … but I remember Mark Twain’s quote, ‘There [are] lies, damnable lies, and then there are statistics,’ so I think any statistics can be skewed, and this would give insurance companies another reason to raise rates other than credit ratings and ZIP codes,” Smith says. While attorneys had a high proclivity for accidents, their tendency to get speeding tickets was much lower. Among the 40 professions surveyed, attorneys placed third in the rate of accidents on an annual basis, but 25th in the rate of yearly speeding violations. Finnegan adds that his sample included 4,000 attorneys, but only 70 judges. Those judges didn’t get a single speeding ticket.
Occupation — No. of Accidents* WORST DRIVERS 1. Student: 152 2. Medical doctor: 109 3. Attorney: 106 4. Architect: 105 5. Real estate broker: 102 BEST DRIVERS 36. Homemaker: 76 37. Politician: 76 38. Pilot: 75 39. Fireman: 67 40. Farmer: 43 *Per 1,000 drivers per year

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