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UPDATED: Apr 13, 2020
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Do you remember the last time someone cut you off, forcing you to swerve out of the way or slam on the brakes? Maybe this is more of a regular occurrence that you’ve actually found yourself getting used to.
What is it that makes a “bad driver” bad, after all? Is it a lead foot, selfishness, carelessness, or all of the above? If you’re living in one of the following states, you might want to be extra careful when you’re out on the road.
We have updated our Worst Drivers statistics with the most recent data that is available, and it’s time to find out, “Which states have the worst drivers?”. Keep in mind that your insurance company could use these kinds of statistics to estimate risk and increase or decrease premiums, depending on location.
The rankings for this study are based on statistics made available to the public by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Each state is ranked according to the follow categories:
- Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
- Failure to Obey (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that involved Traffic Signals, Not Wearing Seat Belts, and Driving with an Invalid Driver License)
- Drunk Driving (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that Involved Alcohol)
- Speeding (Percentage of Driving Fatalities that were Speed-Related)
- Careless Driving (Pedestrian & Bicyclist Fatalities per 100,000 Population)
We translated all of this information into one Total Score, and the worst states received the lowest scores.
For example, the state with the highest percentage of Drunk Driving-related fatal crashes, Montana, earned just 1 point in this category, and state with the lowest percentage, Kentucky, received a score of 51 (the District of Columbia is included in these rankings). Lower scores mean worse drivers, and those drivers could be driving up your state’s car insurance rates.
Since our previous Ticketing Rate category can widely vary based on different state laws, police enforcement, and city and state safety initiatives, we decided to replace this category with Speeding, which is based on the percentage of fatal crashes in which speed was a factor.
Ten States with the Worst Drivers
#10 – Missouri
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 25th
Worst Ranking Factor: Speeding: 11th
Missouri landed at #7 in last year’s study, so they’ve made some improvements to move up to being the 10th-worst in the nation. They made significant strides in Failure to Obey (previously ranked 4th-worst, now 21st), but were just outside the top 10 worst states for both Drunk Driving and Speeding.
#9 – Oklahoma
Best Ranking Factors: Speeding & Drunk Driving: 32nd
Worst Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 1st
Oklahoma, having finished just outside the top 10 for worst drivers last year, finished in the top 10 “worst” for two separate categories (Fatalities Rate and Failure to Obey), carrying them to a 9th place finish this time around. They were the worst offenders in the Failure to Obey category.
#8 – Hawaii
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 33rd
Worst Ranking Factor: Speeding: 1st
Hawaii did rank in the better half for Failure to Obey, but was #1 for Speeding. Careless Driving was also a problem area, with Hawaii coming in 10th-worst. Slowing down and paying attention to their surrounding will help drivers in Hawaii rank better next time.
#6 – Nevada (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate: 30th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 8th
Louisiana and Nevada were tied at 77, good enough to share the #6 spot. Nevada has ranked near the bottom 10 in all of our editions of this study, but this year is their worst ranking yet, due to being among the 15 worst states in four out of five categories: Failure to Obey, Drunk Driving, Speeding, and Careless Driving.
#6 – Louisiana (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Speeding: 36th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 4th
Louisiana does have some positives to take away from this year’s study, because they no longer rank as the worst drivers in the U.S. They finished at #1 in both of our previous editions. The key factor could be Louisiana’s Drunk Driving ranking, which has consistently improved each time.
However, they finished in the top 10 worst states in three different categories: Fatalities Rate, Failure to Obey, and Careless Driving. That really brought them down in the rankings, despite being in the top 20 for states with the lowest occurrence of Speeding.
#5 – Delaware
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 29th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 1st
Delaware followed Louisiana’s example and also landed among the 10 worst states in three categories: Drunk Driving, Speeding, and Careless Driving. Delaware drivers declined significantly from last year in both Failure to Obey and Drunk Driving rankings (dropping 16 and 15 places, respectively), and also dropped to the worst in the nation for Careless Driving.
#4 – North Dakota
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 41st
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 2nd
North Dakota is the first of our “top 10” to finish among the five worst states in three different categories: Fatalities Rate, Failure to Obey, and Drunk Driving. These low scores really overshadowed their positive ranking for Careless Driving (41st), and brought them down to 4th from their previous 10th place finish.
#3 – Texas
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 22nd
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 6th
Texas was #4 in our previous edition, and has dropped to #3 due to finishing worse than last year in both Fatalities Rate and Careless Driving rankings. They made improvements in Failure to Obey and Drunk Driving, but it wasn’t enough to keep Texas out of the “top 3”.
#1 – South Carolina (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 31st
Worst Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate: 1st
Montana and South Carolina could not be separated, each one finishing with a total score of 60, a staggering 148 points behind leaders Minnesota. South Carolina finished among the 10 worst states in Fatalities Rate (1st), Drunk Driving (8th), and Careless Driving (5th).
If it’s any consolation, South Carolina showed continued improvement from our previous editions of this study by ranking 8 places better in Failure to Obey than last time. Every little bit counts!
#1 – Montana (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 44th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 1st
Although they finished among the 10 states with the lowest occurrence of Careless Driving, Montana drivers were among the 10 worst in all of the remaining categories, dropping 8 positions from their previous 9th-place finish. Where did they go wrong? They maintained their #1 rank for Drunk Driving, and declined in the Failure to Obey category. You could also argue that improvements in other states were a contributing factor to Montana being at the wrong end of the spectrum.
At least Montana drivers can take some solace in sharing the title of “Worst Drivers” with their fellow award winners in South Carolina.
Drunk Driving is a Big Part of the Problem
Every one of our top 10 worst states, landed among the 10 worst offenders in the Drunk Driving category. Drinking and driving has serious consequences, and will never be worth it. Alcohol-impaired driving kills 28 people per day.
This is a deadly mistake to make that is easy to avoid. You won’t regret taking a few minutes to plan ahead and having a safe way to get home.
The Worst States = The Most Careless Drivers
Of the 15 worst states, 11 of them were ranked in the bottom half of the table for Careless Driving. “In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians died in traffic crashes — a six percent increase from the number reported in 2011.”
What can you do to make a difference? Start by leaving your cell phone alone while driving. Only 11 states had a ban on talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving in 2012, and nine states were lacking a ban on texting while driving (source).
As a driver, building good scanning habits can really make a difference in crash prevention.
Controllables are Key
The best question we can ask is, “How can we improve?” Let’s focus on what we can control.
Out of the 20 best states, only three were ranked among the top 10 for Failure to Obey, Drunk Driving, and Speeding. These are three factors that are 100 percent controllable for drivers.
Taking responsibility for yourself in these areas by obeying traffic signals, wearing your seat belt, driving with a valid license, designating a driver who hasn’t been drinking, and operating at safe travel speeds can really make a difference.
There’s so much that you can’t control when you’re out on the road. This means that it’s incredibly important to control what you can and build good defensive driving habits.
Complete Rankings: Worst Drivers
– To sort table by category, click on header columns.
|State||Fatality Rate||Failure to Obey||Drunk Driving||Speeding||Careless Driving||Total Score||Rank|
|District of Columbia||51||13||23||10||38||135||28|
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