What are the most dangerous states in the US for driving your car? Well, every year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looks at fatalities and accidents on the roads, does some math, and issues the United States a report card. Overall, we’re looking pretty good. The vast majority of states actually saw a drop in fatalities, a trend that’s pretty common across the board. Even the worst offenders saw at least a tiny drop.
According to The U.S. Census Bureau report of traffic fatalities by state,there has been a noticeable decrease in deaths per 100 million miles driven from 1990 to 2009, with statistics noted every five years.
Read on to learn some of the most dangerous driving areas in the country. There are still states where driving is just a little more risky. Places like…
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 2.12
Maybe it’s not a shock that a state that actually had speed limits overturned by its own Supreme Court back in the ’90s, before finally deciding on a 75 mph limit, has the highest rate of fatalities. It’s not that the residents of Big Sky Country drive like lunatics, it’s because they have to drive everywhere, and drive longer than anybody else in the nation. Crunch the numbers, and it’s a state of about ten people per square mile, one of the lowest population densities in America. So, if you’re going somewhere, you’re driving. At least nobody’s walking, which cuts down on the number of pedestrians you hit. Maybe Montana should go back to no speed limits: according to some studies, Montana was actually safer withoutspeed limits. Speed saves?
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 2.03
Louisiana, unsurprisingly, has a problem with partying too hard. Beaten only by Montana when it comes to drunk driving fatalities, Montana at least has the excuse of long commute times and lots of rural roads. Louisiana, on the other hand, doesn’t have quite so many excuses, since it’s a much smaller state with a lot more people. Of course, the poor road conditions don’t help matters: at least half the state’s roadsare in mediocre to poor condition. So maybe it’s just that Louisiana needs to do a better job of paving.
3. South Carolina
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.86
We’d love to make fun of South Carolina for being rural, but the truth is, they’re surrounded by rural neighbors on all sides: Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, which are all much more safe. If we had to guess, we’d say South Carolina just isn’t applying itself. We know this because out of all our states on this list, it’s the only one to also make the bottom ten for least knowledge of the rules of the road, according to a GMAC survey. Come on, guys, you can do better. Or at least use your turn signal.
4. West Virginia
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.82
Sure, West Virginia is rural. Sure, it could use more highway money: couldn’t every state? But that’s not really the key problem making it such a dangerous place to drive. The real problem? Geology. West Virginia is a state with a lot of mountains, and that makes driving a real problem. It’s got lots of twisty roads with unpleasant drops off the side if you’re not careful. Even worse, it’s coal country, so a lot of huge trucks and other heavy equipment are trying to thread a needle through those passes.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.81
Very nearly tying West Virgina, and rounding out our bottom five, is Arkansas. We’re not sure what the great state and its fine towns like Toad Suck, Ben Hur, or Weinerare doing to cause so many fatalities, but we’re going to take a wild guess and assume that it’s because everybody is in a hurry to get as far away from places like Toad Suck, Ben Hur, and Weiner.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.79
Considering Mississippi’s sometimes less-than-sterling reputation as our fattest and poorest state, it’s probably not the biggest surprise that it made the list. In this case, though, it’s not so much the rural nature of the state as poverty that’s the problem. Sure, having rural roads doesn’t help, but Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation, and with that comes the fact that the cars aren’t new, or sometimes strictly speaking even allowed on the road in the first place. But folks have to get to work somehow: Mississippi doesn’t have much in the way of public transit. Hence, there are a lot of cars on the road that shouldn’t be.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.74
Wait, you mean a state with a long history of illegal alcohol distillation and the resulting high speed chases to outrun government agents, the state that gave birth to both horse racing and NASCAR — America’s most popular spectator sport where cars go really, really fast and often wreck — has a bit of an accident problem? We can hardly restrain our shock! Especially since Kentucky’s traffic laws are apparently just a little lax. Oh, look, Montana beat them on that, too.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.68
But not as lax as Wyoming! Apparently, Wyoming’s driving problem doesn’t stem from its wide-open spaces, low population, or general … well … c’mon, it’s Wyoming. What else is there to do but drive like a maniac? Especially when, as you can see, there are no roads there in the first place? Apparently nothing, as it has the most lax traffic laws in the nation. Then again, that could simply be that there’s so few people there, the Wyoming state police consists of one guy named Larry, and he gets weekends off.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.63
You know, we’d like to know what it is with the Southeast that six of their states have turned up on the list. Do y’all just not have Driver’s Ed down there, or was it a concerted effort to get on this list? We’re just going to assume it’s because everybody in the state goes to a Crimson Tide home game. We’ve seen free beer giveaways that were less crowded than a ‘Bama game.
Fatalities For Every 100 Million Miles Driven: 1.56
Last but not least, we’ve got the only state that can blame its terrible driving record on tourism. You see, Nevada has a lot of rural roads, but unlike most rural states, a lot of people are driving on those roads to get to Las Vegas, or maybe Reno if it’s closer and they want to meet Jim Dangle. The only way most people get to those destinations of squeaky clean family fun is by driving, either in their own cars or in enormous road-hogging buses that are designed for you to get stuck behind them and ratchet up your blood pressure as they ponderously drive down the highway at the lowest possible speed, in the left lane.
Then, of course, the natural inclination to temperance and sobriety that Vegas encourages also means the city has a wee bit of a drunk driving problem, especially on big holiday weekends. And yet, they still can’t beat Montana.
For the curious, the state that had the least fatalities? Massachusetts, rated the sixth worst state for actually knowing how to drive.
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