Raise your hand if you’ve ever watched a terrible driver speed past, saw an out-of-state license plate, and thought, “Of course they’re from that state.”
We’ve all been there, especially during the time of Covid-19: Over the course of 2020, Americans drove more than 2.8 trillion miles.
While that number is down 13% from 2019, research shows that driving is still the preferred method of travel during the pandemic. Comparatively, air travel fell by 75% and rail travel as much as 47% during the same time period.
That’s not likely to change anytime soon, either. A recent study by the University of Chicago found that 1 in 4 Chicagoans will choose road trips over flying once the pandemic ends.
To find out, we considered the following:
- DUI arrests per 100,000
- Accident fatalities per 100,000
- How many drivers are uninsured
- Number of Google searches related to terms like “how to get out of a ticket” and “car accident lawyer”
Here’s what we found.
The Worst Drivers by State
The worst drivers in the US
There were a few things the worst drivers in America have in common: almost all have staggeringly high rates of accident fatalities and DUI arrests.
New Mexico is home to the worst drivers in America, with an average ranking of 6 across the board. This is due to the state’s unusually high number of accident fatalities (25 per 100,000) and the percent of uninsured drivers (21%), both landing in the number three spot for those categories.
It was followed closely by Alabama and Arkansas, whose drivers tied for the second- and third-worst in the nation. While Alabama had the lowest number of DUI arrests (1 per 100,000), it had one of the highest fatality rates (23 per 100,000) as well as a high number of uninsured drivers (21%). Likewise, Arkansas had high rates of fatality (21 per 100,000) and uninsured drivers (17%).
With the highest rate of accident fatalities in the country (31 per 100,000), Wyoming landed in the number four spot for worst drivers. To make matters worse, the state also has an extremely high rate of DUI-related arrests (683 per 100,000).
Rounding out the top five worst drivers in the U.S. is Montana. While Montana drivers don’t have an extremely high rate of DUI arrests (419 per 100,000, #14 rank), they do carry with them the sixth-highest rate of fatalities, at 21 per 100,000.
Here’s the full breakdown of the worst drivers in America:
The best drivers in the US
Surprisingly, the states whose drivers are typically labeled “bad” are actually home to the best drivers in the country.
Landing in the coveted number one spot is New York, with an average ranking of 47.3. In addition to having the second-lowest fatality rate in the country (6 per 100,000, #49), New Yorkers have extremely low rates of DUI-related arrests (156, #42) and a majority of drivers are insured (84%).
Coming in closely behind New York, the second-best drivers in America are in Massachusetts. The state’s average ranking of 47 is, like New York, due to average-to-low rates of DUI-related arrests (163, #39) and the lowest fatality rate in the country (6 per 100,000).
Finally, Pennsylvania took the third spot. It’s no wonder, seeing as 83% of drivers are insured and the rate of DUI arrests per 100,000 is just 117 (#46).
Does driving skill vary by region? Our data suggests so.
Of the top ten states with the worst drivers, almost half were southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. On average, these states ranked #15 across the board due to their low to average DUI arrests but extremely high rates of fatality.
Western states (New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana) accounted for one-third of the ten worst, with an average ranking of 12. Rankings were high in every category, particularly when it came to fatality rates, in which all three ranked within the top 10.
Meanwhile, you can find the best drivers in America in the northeast, particularly New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut. All had extremely low rates of DUI arrests, fatalities, and uninsured drivers.
The team at Friend, Levinson & Turner are Chicago car accident lawyers and injury attorneys you can trust. If you need help with your car accident case, contact us today.
- Total accident fatalities per 100,000: Data gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2019 Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the most recent data available.
- DUI arrests per 100,000: Data gathered from the FBI’s Crime in the United States 2019 database, the most recent data available.
- Percentage of uninsured drivers: Data gathered from the Insurance Information Institute’s 2015 report on uninsured motorists, the most recent data available.
- Keyword research: Data gathered from a Google search trends analysis of over 500 terms related to “get out of a ticket,” “car accident lawyer,” and “DUI lawyer.”
- Population of citizens above driving age in every state: Data gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau.
To rank all 50 states from worst to best drivers, we found each state’s average ranking across all four metrics to create a final score from 0-100. The state with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, while the state with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
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