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UPDATED: Sep 10, 2019
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Drivers in the United States often compare skill levels as a way of judging the country’s best and worst drivers. While many make jokes about the topic of bad driving, the truth surrounding the issue is both serious and sobering.
Using information published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we have put together a list of America’s worst drivers by state. This information comes from a study by the NHTSA that focuses on fatal car crashes in the U.S. and their causes.
As stated by the NHTSA, since 1975, traffic-related fatalities have actually decreased around 67 percent.
While this decrease is something to celebrate, we still have a long way to go for safe driving.
The statistics released by the NHTSA show how we as drivers are responsible for what happens not only to us but also to those around us. Additionally, the information may help you understand your auto insurance premiums .
Take a look to discover whether your state makes the list for worst drivers. Then read more about what causes automobile accidents and what you can do to make a difference.
Before you find yourself in a run-in with a bad driver, make sure you have the right coverage!
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 following 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’s 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, with the worst states receiving the lowest scores.
For example, North Dakota, the state with the worst rating for Drunk Driving — or the highest percentage of fatal crashes due to Drunk Driving — earned just one point in this category. Utah, the state with the lowest percentage, received a score of 51.
For a complete breakdown, along with the specific sources used for each scoring criteria, click here, or you can view the rankings table below. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes
Ten States with the Worst Drivers:
#10 – Montana
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 36th
Worst Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled: 3rd
Moving from first place last year to tenth place this year, Montana seems to have done a lot to improve the quality of driving on the road. The state came in above average for Careless Driving but still has some work to do taking third place for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled.
Here’s hoping that next year, Montana will improve even more and won’t show up on our list.
#8 – Arizona (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 32nd
Worst Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey & Careless Driving: 5th
Arizona also improved on its score from last year, moving from sixth to eighth place. The state’s worst ranking factor was a tie between Failure to Obey and Careless Driving causing over 170 fatalities combined.
#8 – Alabama (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Speeding: 27th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 9th
Alabama tied with Arizona this year for the eighth worst state for bad drivers.
The state ranked ninth in Careless Driving. Because Alabama didn’t make it onto our list last year, we can only assume that driving habits have regressed. Hopefully, Alabama drivers will focus on safe driving and remove themselves from our list next year.
#7 – Nevada
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 29th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 4th
Coming in at number seven, Nevada scored above average in Failure to Obey. But drivers in the state ranked fourth for Careless Driving causing 78 fatalities on the road from Careless Driving alone. Nevada’s second highest score was eighth for Drunk Driving.
#6 – New Mexico
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 36th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 1st
New Mexico improved on our list from last year, moving from second to sixth place. The state did well in the Failure to Obey category, but ranked first — or worst — in Careless Driving and sixth in Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled.
#5 – Delaware
Best Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 26th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 3rd
Delaware moved on our list from ninth last year to fifth this year. Scoring third in Careless Driving and eighth in Speeding, Delaware drivers have a lot to do to make their roads a safer place to travel.
#4 – North Dakota
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 20th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 1st
An issue with Drunk Driving caused North Dakota to slip on our list from seventh place last year to fourth this year. Drunk Driving caused 66 deaths in North Dakota last year. It’s a serious problem that drivers in the state need to recognize and address.
The fact that North Dakota placed sixth in Speeding only adds fuel to the fire. Individuals who are drinking and driving over the speed limit are far more likely to cause fatal accidents than those who are following the law.
#3 – South Carolina
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 34th
Worst Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled: 1st
South Carolina came in close to their score last year, coming in at third this year instead of second. While drivers in South Carolina scored well in the Failure to Obey category, they placed first in Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled and seventh in both Speeding and Careless Driving.
#1 – Texas (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 14th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 3rd
Texas, tying with Louisiana, slipped on our list from fourth last year to first. Drivers in Texas ranked third for Drunk Driving, ninth for Speeding, and ninth for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled.
Texas scored top 15 in every category. Needless to say, this state has a lot to improve on when it comes to safe driving.
#1 – Louisiana (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Speeding: 30th
Worst Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 1st
With an above average score in Speeding, Louisiana comes in for a tie for first place because of its score in every other category.
Drivers in Louisiana scored poorly in Failure to Obey (1st), Careless Driving (5th), Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled (5th), and Drunk Driving (6th). With those scores, there’s no denying that Louisiana is in serious need of change on the road.
Best Predictor of States with Bad Drivers: Careless Driving
Careless Driving has been an excellent predictor of bad scores in past years, and this year’s study is no exception. Of the 20 worst states overall, 16 states were ranked in the worst half for Careless Driving.
The majority of Careless Driving is done by distracted drivers — people who drive while doing other activities that take their attention away from driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver” (Source).
The most common reason for distracted driving is a cell phone. In fact, 64 percent of all car accidents involve cell phone usage.
One major thing we can all do as competent and caring drivers is to put away our cell phones before we ever get behind a wheel. Hiding them will help keep our eyes on the road and our minds on the important task before us.
Failure to Obey and Fatal Accidents
It is interesting to note that the Failure to Obey category had the smallest correlation with the overall number of fatal accidents. While three of the 10 worst states scored under 10, three others (Nevada, South Carolina, and New Mexico) were ranked in the best half in the same category.
While there is no doubt that a failure to obey traffic signals and laws puts you at a greater risk for an accident, it seems that other factors weigh more heavily when it comes to fatal accidents on the road.
Change Starts with You
Though we may find it easy to place blame on others when it comes to bad driving, the truth is that we only have the power to control our actions. In light of this fact, we need to do everything we can to ensure we are making the road a safer place.
Some of the best ways to increase safety while driving are to avoid the tendency to multitask, put away our cell phones, drive below the speed limit, and never drink and drive.
Not only do these actions have a positive impact on our insurance premiums, but they also carry with them the power to increase our safety and the safety of others.
We all make choices each time we get behind the wheel, and those choices impact the lives of countless individuals. Regardless of our past habits and patterns, let’s put forth every effort to drive safely!
Complete Rankings: Worst Drivers
– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.
|STATE||FATALITY RATE||FAILURE TO OBEY||DRUNK DRIVING||SPEEDING||CARELESS DRIVING||TOTAL SCORE||FINAL RANK|
|District of Columbia||48||22||47||1||23||141||30|