Everyone thinks the worst drivers live in their state. When you're stuck in traffic or commuting that can seem likely--but of course they can't all be worst.
Recently, the people behind CarInsuranceComparison.com compiled data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to assess which states' drivers are really the worst.
These are serious statistics. Each state is ranked in terms of five factors: fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled, plus the number of road fatalities resulting from (a) failure to obey traffic laws, (b) drunk driving, (c) speeding, and (d) careless driving.
Here's the entire list of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. Scroll down to see where the data puts your state.
Across all categories, Iowa had solid statistics, ranking no worse than 34th in any category. Great job Iowans.
Minnesotans were near the bottom (the good part) of the list in almost every category. They ranked 15th in drunk driving, however. Maybe work on that one.
3. New Jersey
Having lived in nine states, I must admit that the drivers here, where I currently live, do seem more careful than in other areas (with a few exceptions of course). Maybe it's our strict rule about not passing on the right.
Old Dominion scored blandly, which is to say well, on the rankings in all categories. They were 20th in drunk driving, which isn't the best.
Super steady Ohioans were just safe compared to other states across the board. Their worst ranking was coming in 32nd out of 51 in overall fatalities per 100 million miles.
A high rate of speeding fatalities (12th out of 51) is the only thing that keeps this state from being one of the two or three safest in the nation.
I grew up in New England, and I'm surprised to see Massachusetts ranked so safely. It actually had the least fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. Good job, Massholes!
Utah tied for the least polite state in the country in a separate ranking, but apparently it doesn't extend to the road. Perhaps unsurprisingly (but laudably), it ranked best in the country for lowest number of drunk driving deaths.
9. West Virginia
It's hard to make sense of West Virginia's statistics: 12th in terms of total fatalities, but not worse than 34th in any other category.
Michigan drivers obeyed traffic signals (50th out of 51, which is good). Their rate of careless driving marred an otherwise admirable ranking.
The only thing that stops Maryland from being in a better position? Drunk driving resulting in fatalities, where they are ranked ninth.
Georgians are in a good position in everything on the list except careless driving, where they ranked ninth worst.
Solid numbers across the board, comparatively speaking. Nebraskans' worst performance was their 18th-worst ranking for drunk driving.
14. South Dakota
Eighth-worst in the country in terms of total number of fatalities per million miles driven, but they did fairly well in every other category. Perhaps there were a large number of weather-related fatalities that skewed the rankings.
Solid numbers across the board, Washington State ranked between 27th and 38th in every category. Remember, higher numbers mean a safer and better ranking.
Speeding was the only outlier here, where Kansans were the 13th worst in the country. Otherwise their state ranked pretty well.
17. New Hampshire
The Granite State's libertarian streak didn't negatively affect safety; it's44th in fatalities per 100 miles driven. It had the most deaths in accidents involving speeding, however.
18. District of Columbia
A decent, if middle-of-the-road performance. There are not many roads in DC where you can drive more than 50 miles an hour legally, which might impact its good ranking in overall fatalities (49th).
The Nutmeg State had the 8th worst record in the country for fatalities as a result of drunk driving.
20. New York
Most of New York's rankings were in the middle--everything was between 21 and, sadly, 43. Although the report doesn't break things out by region, one might surmise that pedestrian deaths in New York City might substantially affect the numbers.
Hoosiers generally had decent numbers compared to the rest of the country, except that they apparently don't obey traffic laws (#11 out of 51), which unfortunately caused a significant number of deaths.
I haven't lived in Idaho but I used to spend a lot of time there for work. It's a lovely place, but unfortunately its drivers are the least careful in the entire United States, according to the study, resulting in too many fatalities.
Lead-footed Pennsylvanians came in second in the country for speeding--which is not where you want to be on this list.
The other least-polite state, besides Utah, was right in the middle of the pack in terms of its drivers. They only ranked 42nd out of 51 in terms of speeding however, which is a positive thing.
The fifth worst rate of fatalities per 100 million miles driven plunges Arkansas's ranking to the middle of the pack.
Wide open spaces led Alaska to rank 42nd out of 51 in terms of failure to obey citations in fatal accidents. One might wonder however if that's a function of there being fewer laws to obey up there.
Number 2 in the country for careless driving resulting in death, according to the study. Is it a function of having many older drivers who perhaps should no longer be on the road?
Tenth in speeding-related deaths, and 13th in drunk driving. Otherwise Illinois ranked fairly respectfully: 33rd, 33rd and 35th overall in terms of fatalities per million miles.
Oregonians were among the most law-abiding, but still were 21st in terms of total fatalities.
Failure to obey and overall fatalities (fourth and third-worst) were what pushed this state's rankings down closer to the bottom.
Sixth-worst in the country in terms of fatalities per million miles driven.
Eighth worst in terms of failure to obey traffic laws and 13th worst for drunk driving.
There's no single obvious thing that pushed Missouri down on this list; but failure to obey and speeding resulting in death were both 14th worst in the United States.
The bright spot for Oklahomans is that their drunk driving rating was only 41st. But overall fatalities (12th) and failure to obey (9th) pushed them down the list. (Worth noting: Oklahoma was America's most-polite state in another recent study.)
California is such a huge state that it's difficult to pin its entire rating on one factor. They were the ninth-worst overall in terms of careless driving, however.
Coloradans had a very high rate of speeding resulting in death (8th out of 51), and a high rate of failure to obey traffic laws (5th worst).
Sixth in drunk driving, fifth in speeding: Hawaiians need to do better.
38. Rhode Island
"R'dialandahs" had the second-fewest fatalities of any state (adjusting for miles driven). So why is it ranked fairly poorly? It's #1 in drunk driving and #3 in speeding and failure to obey traffic laws.
Mississippians don't speed (ranked 49th of 51), and they have a decent showing in terms of drunk driving (34th). But they still have the third-most deaths per 100 miles driven.
Lots of drunk driving (#9) and lots of speeding (#3). Otherwise they'd be ranked much better, as total adjusted driving fatalities is only 29th.
Alabamans simply ranked toward the bottom, but not quite the absolute bottom, in every category. However their speeding and drunk driving rankings were comparatively positive (32nd and 26th out of 51 respectively). They can take a little pride in being the second-most polite state according to another study, though.
42. North Dakota
Year after year on this study, North Dakota is at or near the bottom (as in worst). Almost half of all fatalities here on the road are the result of drunk drivers who are in on shape at all to operate machinery (#2 out of 51, which is really bad).
43. Delaware (tie)
Worst in the country for careless driving resulting in death, and it's always among the worst three in this category, year after year.
43. North Carolina (tie)
People drive fast in North Carolina, and despite the 70 mile an hour limit, illegal speed was a factor in a comparatively significant number of deaths.
45. New Mexico
New Mexico now can sentence careless drivers to up to 90 days in jail, but it still ranks third-worst in the country in terms of deaths as a result of careless driving.
46. South Carolina
Absolute worst in the country in terms of fatalities per million miles, South Carolina also has a bad record for careless driving (#5 out of 51) and speeding (#11 out of 51).
Nevada's position gets worse every year on this study: "With 325 total traffic fatalities -- 1.25 killed every 100 million vehicle miles traveled -- and a whopping 114 of those avoidable deaths being caused by drivers impaired by alcohol, Nevada's 'best' rankings land in the worst half of the U.S. and are clearly nothing good," according to the study.
Texas isn't the worst in any one category, but its best ranking was 20th-worst (for speeding). It's near the bottom in everything else. Granted it's a huge state, but from urban areas to the desert, drivers rank poorly.
Louisiana drivers obey the speed limit--but in every other category they need a lot of improvement. Second in failure to obey traffic laws, fourth in careless driving, and sixth overall in fatalities.
"With an alarming 182 people [killed] in 2015 while walking or biking on Arizona public roadways, a climb up the steep cliffs of the Grand Canyon seems safer than commuting by foot or bike alongside the drivers in this state," according to the site.
Sorry Montana, you have the worst drivers in America according to this study: worst in terms of failure to obey traffic laws, second-worst in terms of overall fatalities, fourth worst for drunk driving, and sixth worst for speeding.
Worth noting: This is a state that didn't even have a speed limit a few years ago. The state's director of transportation offered some insights as to why, including the fact that the nearest level-1 trauma center is two states away, in Seattle--which makes surviving big accidents much more difficult.
"[W]e are a large state geographically with just over 1 million people living here. The end result is vast areas of little to no population and a corresponding lack of availability of critical care," he said.