10 States with the Worst Drivers [2021 Study]

The greatest weakness among the 10 states with the worst drivers is careless driving, with an average of 133 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in each state in just one year. The 10 states with the worst drivers averaged 17th worst out of all states in the country, making speeding the best driving category in these states. Drunk driving continues to be a problem for all states with 35 percent of fatal crashes involving a driver impaired by alcohol.

Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati.com. H...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Five out of our 10 states with the worst drivers are in the West
  • Four out of our 10 states with the worst drivers are in the South
  • 36,560 people died in traffic accidents throughout the country in 2018
  • 40.5% of traffic deaths for the 10 worst states involved a drunk driver

10 states with the worst drivers 2020

36,560. That’s not the number of businesses bankrupt due to the coronavirus or the average a person needs to save each year to reach their retirement goals. Nor is it the average salary in America. What is it?

Hint: It has something to do with the states with the worst drivers.

36,560 is the number of people who died in 2018 car crashes. 36,560 men, women, and children . . . some drivers, others passengers, and some merely a pedestrian or bicyclist in the wrong place at the wrong time.

36,560 lives were lost due to one of many factors including a dangerous section of road, bad weather, a vehicle defect, etc. However, the most common cause of car crashes: a deadly decision a driver makes behind the wheel.

And that’s just in 2018. Each year, the number of people killed in car crashes rises above 30,000, and many people or organizations call for a change. Even as technology makes driving safer, people still die. And in the states we’ll cover in this ranking, people die at a much higher rate.

These are the 10 states with the worst drivers, where lives are more in danger on the roads — the states where people speed and drink and drive are careless and don’t obey traffic signals.

In the graph at the top of the page, you can see the 10 states with the worst drivers in 2020, along with how many times each state has appeared in the list of 10 worst states since 2011. The higher a state is ranked, the worst its drivers performed. Alaska, the No. 1 state, for instance, is the state with the worst drivers in 2020.

While the states with the worst drivers pose a threat to life and safety more than any other factor, insurance rates in these states are likely to be higher than average, as accidents lead to claims and claims lead to an insurance company paying out money. Visit our state car insurance rates page for more information about finding the cheapest rates in your area.

Back to the 10 states with the worst drivers. If you live in one of these states, chances are you already know this. But we have a surprise for you: the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which shows you which states have risen or fallen and which states have remained in their current positions.

This is our ranking of the bad drivers in 2020, with a focus on fatal accidents — the relationship between fatal car crashes and bad drivers.

It may be tempting to say that all of these bad drivers are just crazy drivers, the kind that weave in and out of lanes at a high speed or text on a cellphone, but the truth is, these 10 states with the worst drivers have serious issues, including drunk driving and pedestrian deaths. We’ll cover those issues as well.

Let’s get started.

States with the Worst Drivers in America

The worst drivers share some characteristics based on the five categories we judged them on. The graphic below shows the worst category for each state in this ranking. Failure to obey and death rate pop up the most often and are the largest problems drivers in the 10 worst states face.

We explain all the categories in our methodology section if you want to understand the statistics in detail before starting the ranking.

10 states with the worst drivers - worst categories

The next graphic shows the 10 best categories for each state. On the opposite side of the problems with death rate and failure to obey are the categories where the 10 states with the worst drivers do the best: drunk driving, speeding, and careless driving.

In the cases of these categories, the 10 worst states are roughly near the median for all states. The one issue that almost all of the 10 states with the worst drivers share is death rate. There are just two states with death listed as a best category. That makes sense as the death rate is an incredibly important factor in our study, one that combines all four of our other categories.

10 states with the worst drivers - best categories

Now, let’s blitz through with some new states compared to last year’s ranking and some that have remained the same. Two regions are implicated the most, suggesting that driving culture may play a role in which states have the worst drivers or not. Ready? Here’s the start of the 10 states with the worst drivers, starting with a well-known state on these lists: Arkansas.

#10 – Arkansas

Best Category: Speeding
Worst Category: Death Rate & Failure to Obey

Ranked 10th in this list of the states with the worst drivers, Arkansas’ best category is speeding while there is a tie for its worst categories — death rate and failure to obey. Of its total traffic deaths of 516 in 2018, 131 are related to speeding. This means that 25.4% of its traffic deaths came in situations where at least one of the drivers was speeding.

Arkansas scores 1.4 traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles driven. 46.1% of its fatal crashes in the failure to obey category involved someone not wearing a seat belt or not having a valid or legal license.

Arkansas experienced the second-largest rise for the 10 states with the worst drivers, falling 24 spots from its 2019 ranking to put it into the list of the 10 states with the worst drivers.

#9 – Delaware

Best Category: Death Rate & Drunk Driving
Worst Category: Failure to Obey

Delaware, ranked 9th in this list of the states with the worst drivers, saw a tie for its best category: death rate and drunk driving. Its worst category turned out to be failure to obey. The death rate in Delaware for 2018 was 1.1 traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is right in the middle of all states.

Just 35 or 31.5% of its 111 traffic deaths occurred when a driver had been drinking.

Within the failure to obey category, 40.6% of Delaware’s fatal crashes came when a driver or passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt or a driver didn’t have an active or legal driver’s license. Like Arkansas, Delaware experienced a rise in its ranking between 2019 and 2020, gaining three spots to get listed in the 10 states with the worst drivers.

#7 (Tie) – South Carolina

Best Category: Failure to Obey & Drunk Driving
Worst Category: Death Rate

Ranked in a tie for 7th in this list of the states with the worst drivers, South Carolina saw its best categories in failure to obey and drunk driving, while its worst category was death rate. In the category of failure to obey, just 36.2% of South Carolina’s fatal crashes occurred when a person was not wearing a seat belt or if at least one of the drivers did not have an active or legal driver’s license.

Of South Carolina’s total traffic deaths of 1,037 in 2018, just 335 came when at least one of the drivers had alcohol in their system. That amounts to 32.3% of its total traffic deaths.

South Carolina finished dead last in its worst category — death rate — with 1.83 traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

As already noted, that’s the worst rate of all states and the District of Columbia. South Carolina also sits in the top 10 — No. 1 to be precise — in our ranking of the most dangerous highways by state. This ranking is compounded by the issue of speeding, which our experts believe would have prevented 37% of fatal crashes if the driver or drivers had not been exceeding the speed limit.

In good news, South Carolina becomes our first state that rises in the ranking, jumping five spots from the state with the second-worst drivers to 7th place in a tie with our next state: Hawaii.

#7 (Tie) – Hawaii

Best Category: Failure to Obey
Worst Category: Drunk Driving & Speeding

Hawaii, ranked in a tie for 7th with South Carolina in this list for the 10 states with the worst drivers, has its best category in failure to obey with two categories tied for its worst category — drunk driving and speeding. In failure to obey, just 35.4% of its fatal crashes occur when someone wasn’t wearing a seat belt or at least one of the drivers had an inactive or illegal license.

Of its 117 total traffic deaths in 2018, 45 traffic deaths in Hawaii came when one or more of the drivers had been drinking, which was good for 38.5% of its 117 total traffic deaths.

But there were 51 deaths relating to speeding, Hawaii’s other worst category, which accounted for 43.6% of all traffic deaths.

Hawaii rose seven spots between its ranking in 2019 and this ranking in 2020, going from on the outskirts of the 10 states with the worst drivers to a tie for 7th-worst.

Often, rankings for the states with the worst drivers rely on traffic deaths and the percentage of crashes involving an issue like speeding. But there’s another variable that’s difficult to measure but important: the deadliness of vehicles. See which vehicles make the top 10 of our ranking of the most deadly vehicles in history dating back to 1960.

#6 – Nevada

Best Category: Speeding
Worst Category: Failure to Obey & Careless Driving

Ranked 6th on this list of the 10 states with the worst drivers, Nevada has its best category in speeding and a tie for its worst category between failure to obey and careless driving. Within the category of speeding, Nevada ranks roughly in the middle of all states. Of its 330 total traffic deaths in 2018, 92 or 27.9% came from speeding.

35.3% of Nevada’s fatal accidents in the failure to obey category came when someone wasn’t wearing a seat belt or at least one of the drivers had an invalid or illegal license.

In its other worst category (careless driving), 87 pedestrians or bicyclists were killed in 2018 for a rate of 2.9 deaths per 100,000 people. That amounted to 26.4% of Nevada’s traffic deaths. While Nevada was in the ranking of the 10 states with the worst drivers last year at 10th, it rose four spots this year to place 6th overall.

#5 – Colorado

Best Category: Death Rate & Careless Driving
Worst Category: Failure to Obey

Colorado, ranked 5th in this list of the 10 states with the worst drivers, had two categories tied for its best category — death rate and careless driving — with its sole worst category being failure to obey. For the category of death rate, Colorado had 1.2 traffic deaths in 2018 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Approximately two pedestrians or bicyclists were killed per 100,000 residents in Colorado, which accounted for 17.6% of all traffic deaths in 2018.

In its worst category of failure to obey, 43.9% of its fatal crashes came when someone wasn’t wearing a seat belt or at least one of the drivers did not have an active or legal driver’s license. Colorado did not move much from its 2019 ranking to its 2020 ranking, rising just one spot.

#3 (Tie) – Texas

Best Category: Speeding
Worst Category: Drunk Driving

Ranked in a tie for 3rd on this list of the 10 states with the worst drivers, Texas has just one category per best and worst categories: speeding as the best category and drunk driving as the worst category. Of its 3,642 traffic deaths in 2018, 990 involved speeding. This amounted to 27.2% of all traffic deaths. This was near the middle of the pack for all states.

Texas rose quite a bit when it came to its worst category — drunk driving — where it ranked third-worst out of all states and the District of Columbia in 2018.

Of its 3,642 traffic deaths, 1,673 involved a driver that had been drinking. This accounted for 45.9% of all traffic deaths. Texas was featured in the 2019 worst drivers study at 5th, meaning that its ranking rose two slots in 2020.

#3 (Tie) – Montana

Best Category: Careless Driving
Worst Category: Failure to Obey

Montana, ranked in a tie for 3rd on this list of the 10 states with the worst drivers, has its best category in careless driving and its worst in failure to obey.

Just 17 pedestrians and bicyclists died in traffic accidents compared to Montana’s overall traffic deaths of 182, which accounts for just 9.3% of those overall traffic deaths.

The difference between its best and worst categories is perhaps the largest we’ve seen on this list. For the category of failure to obey, 63.1% of Montana’s fatal crashes came when someone wasn’t wearing a seat belt or at least one driver had an invalid or illegal license. Montana was also featured in last year’s list of the 10 states with the worst drivers but rose five slots from 8th to 3rd.

#2 – New Mexico

Best Category: Speeding
Worst Category: Careless Driving

Ranked 2nd in our list of the 10 states with the worst drivers, New Mexico had its best category in speeding and its worst in careless driving. Of its 391 traffic deaths in 2018, 132 or 33.8% involved speeding. For this category, it ranked in the worst 15 states nationwide.

In its worst category of careless driving, 94 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2018, or 24% of all traffic deaths.

4.5 pedestrians or bicyclists killed per every 100,000 residents of New Mexico, ranking the state as the worst in the country for this category.

New Mexico actually fell one spot from its 2019 ranking, making way for a new state with the worst drivers in the country, one that might surprise you.

#1 – Alaska

Best Category: Careless Driving
Worst Category: Drunk Driving & Speeding

Alaska, ranked as the state with the worst drivers in 2020, had its best category in careless driving and a tie for its worst category — drunk driving and speeding. Of its 80 traffic deaths in 2018, just 14 pedestrians were killed, which amounted to 17.5% of all traffic deaths. It actually ranked near the middle of the pack in this category.

But its worst categories of drunk driving and speeding drag it down and are two of the factors in Alaska’s 2020 appearance in this list of states with the worst drivers. The categories of drunk driving and speeding account for 97.5% of Alaska’s total traffic deaths in 2018.

Of its 80 overall traffic deaths, 36 came when a driver drank and drove. This accounted for 45% of all traffic deaths. Another 42 involved speeding, amounting to 52.5% of all traffic deaths.

Trends in the Deadliest States for Driving

When we determined the 10 most dangerous states — those with the worst drivers — a few things jumped out at us. These ranged from the geography of the 10 states with the worst drivers to which categories each state struggled with, compared to which categories the 10 states struggled with overall.

The first note is that the states are predominantly located in the West and South. Including Alaska, five states in the 10 states with the worst drivers are located in the West.

Six of our 10 states with the worst drivers are in the West. The other four states are located in the South.

The 10 states with the worst drivers struggled with a couple of key categories: careless driving and failure to obey. The following list shows the average rankings for the 10 states with the worst drivers for each category. As mentioned in the section before the ranking, the higher the number, the worse the drivers.

  • Death rate: 15.2
  • Failure to obey: 14
  • Careless driving: 13.2
  • Drunk driving: 15.9
  • Speeding: 16.7

Together, the 10 states with the worst drivers accounted for 7,038 or 19.3% of traffic deaths compared to 36,560 traffic deaths from all states in the United States. 31.2% of the traffic deaths in the 10 states with the worst drivers involved speeding. This behavior is not just dangerous for other drivers but can impact drivers financially as well, as it is considered a moving violation that impacts insurance rates.

40.5% came when at least one driver drank and drove. 18.9% of those traffic deaths were pedestrians or bicyclists. Up to 47.7% of all fatal crashes in the failure to obey category occurred when someone didn’t wear a seat belt. Up to 23.1% came when at least one driver had an invalid or illegal driver’s license.

The average death rate for all 10 states with the worst drivers was 1.34 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. South Carolina was the worst with a 1.83 death rate. Hawaii was the best with a 1.07 death rate. Understated in these statistics is that the causes of fatal car accidents are often lumped in under one definition — reckless driving. Visit our reckless driving videos page to see real-life examples of the dangers of reckless driving.

Driving Strengths & Weaknesses Across America

Now, let’s turn to the statistics for driving nationwide. While we talk a lot about states in this article, there are certain trends among driving in general.

First, check out the graph below that shows each state’s rank in this list of the states (plus the District of Columbia) with the worst drivers. The darker the purple, the better drivers that state had. The graph is interactive: Hold your cursor above a state (desktop or laptop) or press down on a state (mobile) to see the state’s ranking dated back to 2016.

View as image

With that graph, you can clearly see that the regions in the United States with the worst drivers were the West and the South. States in the Northeast and Midwest tend to do better on these types of rankings, as well as those featuring states with the best drivers.

The next graph below spotlights each state’s worst category: death rate, failure to obey, careless driving, drunk driving, and speeding. As with analyzing the worst drivers per region, it is interesting to see which regions struggle with a particular category. This graph is also interactive, so hold your cursor over a state or press down on a state with your finger to show that state’s worst and second-worst categories for 2020.

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The states in the South struggle with careless driving the most, while many of the states in the Midwest struggle with failure to obey. The states in the Northeast struggle with speeding and drunk driving the most. The West has problems with failure to obey and drunk driving the most, though its worst categories are more of a mix compared to the other three regions.

Some times of the day are worse than others, as well as months, or days of the week. Take a quick glance at the chart below about all things driving, including the most dangerous state overall for traffic deaths in 2018.

Deaths Totals Based on Locations and Timing in 2018
Driving Factor2018 FindingsDeath Total
Deadliest MonthOctober3,081
Safest MonthFebruary2,315
Deadliest DaySaturday5,794
Safest DayWednesday4,285
Deadliest Time6 p.m. - 9 p.m.5,764
Safest Time3 a.m. - 6 a.m.2,804
Deadliest StateTexas3,642
Safest StateRhode Island59

In all, 36,560 people lost their lives in a fatal crash in 2018. Age and gender are major risk factors in fatal crashes as both teenagers and elderly drivers face an increased risk of fatal crashes and male drivers are more likely to die in fatal crashes than female drivers.

Drunk driving and speeding continue to be the greatest causes of fatal traffic accidents, with many states often having 60% or more of their fatal crashes due to drunk driving or speeding.

Improving Dangerous Driving in America

Our study about the 10 states with the worst drivers revealed quite a bit, including states that have problems year after year. Our 10 states with the worst drivers have appeared in our yearly studies an average of 7.3 times since 2011.

It appears that there are significant issues in each of those states that present repeatedly, even with the knowledge that traffic deaths in these states are a major problem.

Montana, Texas, and South Carolina all appear nine times in our yearly studies since 2011, the most of all states.

There were a couple of big rises: Alaska, ranked No. 27 in the country for last year, rose all the way to the worst state for drivers in America. Arkansas had a similar rise, rising 24 spots to rank as the 10th worst state for drivers in 2020. Drunk driving and speeding continue to be a major problem throughout the country.

An average of 33.2% of traffic deaths occurred when at least one driver drank and drove, and 25.7% of traffic deaths related to speeding. For more information about drunk driving and its relationship with fatal car crashes, check out our article ranking the most dangerous states for drunk driving.

To combat these issues, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and statewide police forces have created public service announcements and other multimedia to make people more aware of the driving problems nationally or within a state.

Although traffic deaths have declined for a number of years, there are still major problems in how people drive that lead to over 30,000 traffic deaths per year.

Deadly Driving Consequences & Counsel: Personal Interviews

What are the main forms of bad driving behavior and what are states and communities doing to discourage bad driving and keep their roads safe?

These are two of the questions we’ll answer in this section, with responses from thought leaders in the areas of law, insurance, parking safety apps, and the auto industry.

experts around the world

What are some of the behaviors associated with bad driving?

“In general, most car accidents we see are caused by inattentiveness — often due to cellphone usage while operating a vehicle. It’s also common for us to see car accidents caused by failing to drive safely in inclement weather such as snow or rain.”

What can a city or state do to reduce bad driver behavior in its residents?

“The most obvious answer is enforcement, but this can be quite resource intensive. Many cities and states simply do not have the resources to pull over drivers for distracted driving. Additionally, those laws are often hard to apply if, for example, a driver is merely grabbing something from the cup holder rather than operating their phone.

However, many states have moved to making distracted driving a ‘primary offense,’ which means you can be pulled over for that alone. The press surrounding that change in the law may make people more cautious, but it remains a pressing issue on America’s roads.”

Does your area take any of these actions?

“In Ohio, there were calls from the Governor’s office early in 2020 to enact a law making distracted driving a primary offense. However, to date, no such law has been passed at the state level.”

What do you believe is the most pressing problem drivers face now compared to in the past 10 years?

“More phones equal more distractions — so distracted driving is a huge problem. Also, uninsured drivers are a major issue, especially in the face of economic uncertainties during the global pandemic.

We recommend that all drivers purchase uninsured/underinsured coverage on their policies to protect against this.”

What do you anticipate will be the habits of the worst drivers over the next few years?

“The single biggest possible issue is a surge in uninsured drivers due to the economic fallout of rising unemployment. To protect against this, all drivers should immediately obtain uninsured/underinsured coverage, which is an obscure insurance coverage that many insurers won’t tell you about.”

Dennis E. SawanDennis E. Sawan is an insurance and personal injury lawyer at Sawan & Sawan.
His law firm frequently deals with auto accident claims due to unsafe drivers.


What are some of the behaviors associated with bad driving?

“Behavior associated with bad drivers includes speeding, changing lanes frequently, erratic driving patterns, driving too slowly, and swerving.”

What bad driving behaviors aggravate you the most?

“Have you ever been on the highway and the car in front of you is constantly speeding up and slowing down? With you driving behind them seeing their brake lights keep flickering on and off? This is one of the more dangerous driving mistakes that comes to mind: when drivers on the highway do not have a steady foot.

There are many drivers that repeatedly give short bursts on the accelerator and then press their brakes intermittently, which is not only uncomfortable for the passengers in the car, but it also creates unexpected traffic patterns.

A highway is a place where steady speeds are not only essential to the free flow of traffic, but also to the safety of those around you.

Luckily most cars nowadays are equipped with cruise control, which can help you maintain a steady speed on the highway. So please, next time you may feel distracted, set the cruise control, and make sure your driving patterns are something others can anticipate and safely react to.”

What can a city or state do to reduce bad driver behavior in its residents? Does your area take any of these actions?

“I am from Charleston, S.C. According to an article I just read, South Carolina recently ranked among the top 10 list for the worst drivers in the country just like it has in this study.

The other study I read explored the relation of this bad driver figure to unsafe road conditions, such as dangerous intersections.

It’s essential that the counties take this information into account to correct problems at these intersections to reduce the number of traffic accidents.”

What do you believe is the most pressing problem drivers face now compared to in the past 10 years?

“Being constantly connected to our mobile phones and constant notifications is something new within the last 10 years. There are many more screens in the car than there used to be.

Our cars are now fully integrated with navigation systems that alert us constantly and can be synced with our mobile phones to send us notifications of who has texted us, what news just broke, the work email that just came in. All of these create distractions for the driver that can be very dangerous.”

How does technology play a role in good or bad driving behaviors?

“These new technologies can be a helper and also a hindrance. Technology is boosting safety measures in our vehicles in terms of driving tools such as lane assist, and blind-spot notification.

Technology is also trying to cut down on the impact that our mobile devices have on us while driving. Integrating our mobile systems into the car, as Apple CarPlay does theoretically, allows us to keep our eyes on the road and still receive our notifications.

However, this is also creating a norm of being attentive to our notifications while at the wheel which can be quite a hindrance to safe driving.”

What do you anticipate will be the habits of the worst drivers over the next few years?

“I anticipate that the further integration of technology, such as automation of cars will contribute to bad driving in the future.

As more cars become smarter and learn to assist the driver, I believe people will become reliant on these technologies and pay less attention to driving carefully or being alert while at the wheel.”

What can a bad driver do to help them correct bad driving habits?

“Setting your phone to switch off when it realizes you are driving is a very hand feature that comes integrated into many smartphones nowadays.

Additionally setting your integrated navigation system to only alert you to the most important notifications while driving can help keep you focused on the road.”

Allen SchufordlAllen Shuford is a service advisor for customers at Selectra.co.uk.
Selectra provides comparison tools for broadband, energy, and insurance.


What are some of the behaviors associated with bad driving?

“Parking lots are rather an unusual suspect when it comes to poor driving. Paying attention while parking may sound suspiciously like driving 101, but you’d be surprised by how risky parking lots can be.

Tens of thousands of collisions occur every year in parking lots and garage systems, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

A whopping 66% of drivers admitted to making phone calls while driving through a parking lot, according to a recent Gallup poll, while over 50% admit to texting in a parking lot and using social media.

Add to this the 49% who are busy taking photos or watching videos, and you can start to figure out why parking lots are dangerous places to be driving in.

Auto insurance companies have reported that the number of claims spikes during the holiday shopping season. This is without taking into account the umpteen fender benders that go unreported.”

How does technology play a role in good or bad driving behaviors?

“There’s no doubt that technology can help reduce the number of parking lot accidents. Today, most cars come equipped with backup cameras that give drivers a view of what’s happening behind them.

Another way to spare yourself from parking lot nightmares is by using parking apps or websites. For instance, both the Way app and the Way.com website will let you book your parking spot online before heading out.

You can book days, weeks, or even months ahead. With the guarantee of a reserved parking spot waiting for you, you won’t have to indulge in a reckless, mad dash when a spot opens up or drive around in circles burning up fuel as you try to find an elusive parking spot.”

Bhumi BhutaniBhumi Bhutani is the co-founder of Way.com, where drivers can reserve parking spots online.
With her site, people can avoid distracted driving resulting from searching for parking spots.


What are some of the behaviors associated with bad driving?

  • Using the phone while driving: It’s the most common bad habit among drivers nowadays. However, using the phone can be distracting, and distracted driving is fatal driving.
  • Improperly merging: There are plenty of drivers who don’t understand how to properly merge. Some motorists race in front of others getting on the freeways, thinking it’s an acceptable attitude.
  • Ignoring traffic signs: Some people fail to yield when they’re required or blow through stop signs. These people are the ones who end up hitting somebody since they’re not prepared when a car or a pedestrian comes out of nowhere. They often forget that signs are there for a reason.”

What bad driving behaviors aggravate you the most?

“Three are:

  1. Cutting other cars off: Cars weaving between lanes with disregard is downright dangerous and irritating. They risk hitting others or being hit by others. It can be hard to anticipate these drivers’ movements, which makes it hard for me to protect myself.
  2. Not using turn signals: If I’m not being informed where other cars are going, how can they expect me to respond? Turning or changing lanes without using signals throws me off. It’s even worse when a vehicle slows down to cut without turning their blinkers on.
  3. Tailgating: It can be aggravating if the person behind me won’t stay off my bumper. They create unnecessary tension by wanting to go faster.”

What can a city or state do to reduce bad driver behavior in its residents?

  • “Dedicate spaces for pedestrians: In the United States, thousands of pedestrians die on public roads each year. If cities can encourage foot traffic, they not only boost the local economy but also help keep everyone safe. Our city has pedestrian-only streets that are exclusively for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Build streets: There are thousands of cars on the road each day, which requires the government to create roads with cyclists and pedestrians in mind. Our city has areas where pedestrians can safely stand instead of exposing themselves to oncoming traffic.
  • Reduce traffic speed: One of the major reasons that people get killed on the road is speed. City planners would need to decrease these chances. Low-speed zones and speed humps are now implemented in our city.”

What do you believe is the most pressing problem drivers face now compared to in the past 10 years?

“Three are:

  1. Other drivers: There will be more drivers in the next decade, which means that there will be more poor motorists. You can’t do much about it. However, you can ensure that if anything happens, the damage is kept to a minimum.
  2. Road rage: One of the most damaging driving things that people do is road rage. It’s a habit that can ruin your day. If it’s not controlled, people end up fighting even for the smallest things.
  3. Rush hour: Each day, each of us becomes busier and busier. It won’t be surprising that years from now, the roads will be full of cars that it can be hard to move.”

What do you anticipate will be the cause/habits of the worst drivers over the next few years?

“They will be:

  • Distracted driving: Driving requires both hands, and the brain should be involved too. However, with the growth of our needs to be always on our phones, our focus is pulled from our wheels.
  • Tailgating: With more vehicles on the road, the roads are not going to be big enough to accommodate all of them. Since there’s not enough space, more and more motorists will find it hard to follow a safe distance. As a result, it will be hard for them to avoid even stationary objects such as a lamppost or a tree.
  • Speeding: With more things to do, people will become more time-constrained. More motorists will put their lives on the line just to get from point A to point B. They will always be in a hurry, especially if they don’t want to be late for their appointments.”

How does technology play a role in good or bad driving behaviors?

“The increase in mobile devices has changed the way people interact daily. People are spending more time on their phones even when they’re on the road. As a result, drivers are distracted most of the time.

Technology has also helped drivers to easily find the place where they want to go through a number of apps related to navigation and available parking options.

Hand-held screens provide maps and directions to help us navigate the winding roads. Through apps, we can also avoid traffic. It also allows us to understand local signage and be aware of our demographics and location.

Advancements in technology present new exciting opportunities as well as critical threats. However, with proper integration, technology can be an effective tool.”

What can a bad driver do to help them correct bad driving habits?

“Three corrections are:

  1. Be wary of the right of way: When an intersection is near, it’s essential to know if you have the right of way. Watch out for the other drivers and yield if needed.
  2. Observe signs: There are plenty of signs on the road and you should be alert about them. Traffic signs are meant to inform you of upcoming turns, speed limits, and road conditions. Be a defensive driver and you can do so by being observant of the markers.
  3. Avoid distractions: Whether it’s eating food, talking on the phone, or picking up an object that fell, distractions often happen when you’re on the road. You must pay attention to what’s in front of you. Pull to the side if you need to make a phone call, send a text, or pick something up.”

If you are a parent or mentor, what can you teach your teenager while educating them about driving so as to avoid bad driving behavior?

“Three skills you can teach your teenager to better their driving are:

  • Familiarize car systems: Advise them about the vehicle’s every aspect. They should know about the car they’re handling. Tell them to check every single thing before starting their engines; adjust their mirrors and seats, fasten their seat belts, and ensure that everything is operational.
  • Laws and safety: Make sure your child knows the law by heart, not only for their safety but also for others. Review with them, especially the local traffic laws.
  • Minimize distractions: Remind your teenager how important it is to put all of your attention to your vehicle and the road. Turn off the phone, lower the radio, avoid eating and drinking; any distractions unnecessary should be removed. Tell your child to always maintain focus, even if the world tempts to not to.”

Have you had a personal experience with a bad driver, such as an accident?

“It didn’t happen to me, however, it happened to a close friend of mine. Let’s call him James. He was driving on a highway during the rush. When the traffic slowed, James slowed down too. However, he heard a loud crash, then felt a violent rear-end collision. When he got out of the car, James found out that he’d become part of a multi-car crash.

A pickup collided with another vehicle, then a second driver tried avoiding another vehicle. However, that driver ended up hitting James’ car, seriously damaging his vehicle.

When the police department arrived at the scene, both James and the other drivers were consistent. However, one story didn’t match up. The driver who caused the crash said they were driving safely but everyone slammed on their brakes. He said that he wasn’t able to stop in time. Fortunately, the police officers saw that his version didn’t correlate with others.

The physical damage from the accident was significant. James developed severe neck pain after the accident. An MRI showed that he had herniated disks, which required injections and physical therapy to resolve.

He also needed a painful and complicated surgery that left him with screws in his spine. However, when he filed a claim with the distracted driver’s insurance company, he didn’t get anything.

He asked for the help of a trustworthy lawyer because he worried about his medical bills. The lawyer identified all the insurance policies that covered James’ claims. They collected the evidence and got the negligent driver to admit his recklessness. In the end, James got his settlement.”

Arnold ChapmanArnold Chapman was a trucker for over 20 years before he started an auto tech publication.
He is the founder of ELDFocus.com, an online magazine publisher in the auto industry.

Nationwide Driver Rankings for All Study Categories

Want to know where your state stands in the ranking of the states with the worst drivers throughout the country? The following table shows each state along with its subranks in each category: death rate, failure to obey, careless driving, drunk driving, and speeding. At the far right, its overall ranking is listed.

First equals worst in our rankings. Alaska ranking No. 1 out of all states means they have the worst drivers in the country for instance. The same goes for all our subcategories like speeding or careless driving.

To calculate our overall ranking, our experts analyzed each subcategory, ranked the states according to metrics (such as pedestrian/bicyclist death rate in the careless driving category) in that subcategory, then summed up all the subcategory ranks to get an overall rank score.

The states with the lower the overall rank score, the worst that state’s drivers were in 2018. Our analysts then took the 10 states with the lowest overall rank scores and created our top 10 ranking.

All 5 Driver Category Rankings: 50 States + D.C.
StateDeath RateFailure to ObeyCareless DrivingDrunk DrivingSpeeding2020 Rank
Alaska61224111
New Mexico912112152
Montana932916123
Texas178123293
Colorado2212221165
Nevada229916276
Hawaii28427557
South Carolina13843867
Delaware274827229
Arkansas111116203410
Arizona3305292611
South Dakota1464127812
Alabama141512352813
Missouri2023045914
Louisiana3252314615
Illinois3426358716
Mississippi2206365117
New Hampshire28194916317
District of Columbia44382111219
Wisconsin4244571819
Pennsylvania222627321021
Oklahoma81023413922
California332211233323
North Carolina212114323824
Oregon13511994125
Indiana32620374026
Virginia342932162426
Rhode Island4833502428
Connecticut38492652029
Wyoming313644131429
West Virginia53633462131
Florida11383435032
Kentucky61825484832
Vermont382646231334
Washington434131141734
Michigan373328233536
Nebraska262337214936
Ohio381436393038
Georgia254510394539
Idaho161542484339
Kansas191740513739
New York474834102539
Tennessee183518474743
North Dakota284243421144
Massachusetts51423943245
Maine384751151946
Maryland444915303647
Minnesota503248232348
New Jersey494617324249
Iowa342447444450
Utah463038503151

The spread between the states with the worst drivers and the states with the best drivers is large and represents a gap presented by numerous factors such as the quality of the highway systems within states as well as state driving culture.

As we’ve shown, living in a state that has some of the worst drivers in the country can impact more than just your mortality risk. Your car insurance rates might be higher than if you lived in a state with better drivers because the larger number of people who file claims costs car insurance companies money, which raises rates overall.

Fortunately, there are ways you can correct that. One is through a program similar to usage-based car insurance. With this insurance, a person will often enroll in a telematics system that tracks how many miles you drive each day along with driving behavior like accelerating or deaccelerating quickly.

Car insurance companies often give discounts for people who enroll in a telematics program, sometimes as high as a 30% discount if your driving behavior is superb.

If you live in a state that has some of the worst drivers in America, enrolling in a telematics system might reduce your rates, saving you money and allowing you to be judged solely by your driving rather than how many other residents of that area or state are filing claims.

Frequently Asked Questions: Deadly Age Groups & Driving Habits

Now that we’ve covered which states have the worst drivers, along with national trends and the broad look at the 10 states with the worst drivers as a whole, let’s get to your frequently asked questions. Among the questions we’ll answer include:

  • What is a bad driver?
  • What age drivers are the riskiest?
  • What is the No. 1 unsafe driving behavior?

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

#1 – What is a bad driver?

Bad drivers may have some of the following behaviors or attitudes: rudeness, inconsideration, and meanness. They might also engage in aggressive behaviors such as riding the shoulder of the road during a traffic jam and cutting in line when they’ve passed a number of vehicles, cutting people off trying to merge into a lane, tailgating, or going very slowly in the speed lane.

#2 – Who are the most dangerous drivers on the road?

Young drivers are generally considered — and backed by statistics — to be the most dangerous drivers on the road with the worst driving habits and traffic violations. Their inexperience driving along with their higher level of risk-taking can make them dangerous on the road, especially if they have been drinking or are distracted by technological devices.

#3 – Why is reckless driving dangerous?

Reckless driving is dangerous because it involves driving behavior that puts their fellow drivers at a higher risk of an accident and in particular a higher risk of a fatal accident. This behavior includes driving well over the speed limit, switching in and out of lanes quickly, and ignoring safety devices like reduced speed limits for schools and construction sites.

#4 – Is it dangerous to drive a car?

Driving, for many people, is the most dangerous activity they will do all day. Although the number of traffic deaths has been decreasing for a number of years, more than 30,000 people die in traffic accidents every year, with speeding and drunk driving being two of the major causes of death related to traffic accidents.

#5 – How do you turn in a reckless driver?

If you see a reckless driver on the road, the quickest way to turn them in is by calling the police or dialing 9-1-1. This includes if the vehicle is moving much faster than the speed limit or if the person appears drowsy or inebriated. This action should only be used if the reckless driver is behaving in a way that is directly dangerous to other vehicles on the road, as 9-1-1 and calling the police are strictly for emergency situations.

#6 – What age drivers are the riskiest?

Although we’ve answered which group of people are most dangerous on the road — teenagers — there is another group that is nearly as dangerous: older drivers. Due to a declining cognitive function, deteriorating physical capacities like sight and motor reflexes, and possible effects of medication, an older driver can cause as many problems as a young driver and lead to wrecks, sometimes fatal ones.

#7 – What is the No. 1 unsafe driving behavior?

The No. 1 unsafe driving behavior in the United States varies every year between drunk driving and speeding. Both generally account for over 30% of all traffic deaths in America, and both categories often go hand in hand. In our study, drunk driving accounted for 33.9% of traffic deaths nationwide, while speeding amounted to 25.7% of traffic deaths.

#8 – Is driving good for your brain?

Driving is beneficial for your mind because it activates the parts of your brain that deal with spatial relationships and the ability to switch focus between issues quickly. In particular, this ability to switch focus has applications to other parts of a person’s life, such as the ability to juggle different projects at once when they go to work or multi-task involving situations at home.

#9 – Is it normal to be bad at driving at first?

Yes, it is perfectly normal to be bad at driving at first. Just like with any other skill, the ability to get good at driving requires time and education. This often occurs in driving schools or while driving with an adult during training on a learner’s permit before applying for a license. Generally, this ability gets better over time.

Methodology: Ranking the States with the Worst Drivers

In our study about the 10 states with the worst drivers, our researchers gathered data on each state for the five following categories:

  1. Death rate
  2. Failure to obey
  3. Careless driving
  4. Drunk driving
  5. Speeding

Within each factor, statistics about numerous subfactors were compiled. For instance, in the category of failure to obey, our experts put together statistics about each state’s fatal crashes relating to three subcategories:

  • Fatal crashes with a safety device involved
  • Fatal crashes where seat belts were not used
  • Fatal crashes where a driver did not have a valid or legal license

Each of those subcategories led to a subranking. For example, with our worst state, Alaska, the subrankings in the failure to obey category were:

  • Fatal crashes with a safety device involved rank: 34th
  • Fatal crashes where seat belts were not used rank: 25th
  • Fatal crashes where a driver did not have a valid or legal license rank: 5th

The subrankings were then summed — 64 for Alaska as an example — and then compared to the subrankings of other states. This created our ranking for each state in each category.

That 64 score for Alaska puts it at 12th worst overall in the country, with states that had a lower summed subranking scores being ranked worst (Colorado, with a combined subranking score of 38, ranked No. 1 overall in the failure to obey category, for instance). Our analysts created subcategory statistics in all four of the other categories: death rate, careless driving, drunk driving, and speeding.

Each category is made up of smaller categories such as pedestrian deaths and bicyclist deaths in the careless driving category.

Much of the rankings were based on the percentage out of the whole: Alaska ranked No. 1 in the speeding category because 52.5% of its traffic deaths came in fatal crashes involving speeding, and this percentage was higher than all the other states.

The overall ranking for each state followed a similar pattern as a category with subcategories: Our analysts assigned each state a score for each category, summed those scores up, and weighted each state depending on how its summed score aligned with the rest of the states.

If you were to combine the number of fatal crashes or traffic deaths our experts analyzed with the number of categories or subcategories they put them in, the total data points they analyzed were 125,473,920.

Most of the statistics you’ll find in this article are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), along with some other statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (III). While the data comes from them, our study came from finding trends in that data and using it to analyze which states had the worst drivers and those that didn’t.

Previous Results of this Study

Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State
All States + D.C. Ranked by Driver Safety
Worst Driving Categories for All 50 States + D.C.
All States + D.C. Ranked by Driver Safety
Worst Driving Categories for All 50 States + D.C.