Deadliest places to drive in the US
From the most dangerous cities to the riskiest holidays, a few states consistently ride at the top.
Updated . What changed?
The most dangerous driving states share a theme of high populations and deaths related to drunk driving. Some states are named multiple times on holiday lists — including Texas, California and Florida.
We compared recent road fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find the worst times and places to drive in.
Deadliest states for driving
The top three deadliest states in America — Texas, California and Florida— are in a category all their own, according to road fatality data from the NHTSA.
These states faced the deaths of 3,642 drivers for Texas, 3,563 for California and 3,133 for Florida in 2018. Compare that to states with much lower road fatalities, such as Rhode Island’s 59 deaths, Alaska’s 80 deaths or Washington D.C.’s 31 deaths.
And it wasn’t just a bad year for these states. Ten years of data from 2008 to 2018 tell a similar story, with Texas at 34,000 driving fatalities, California seeing 33,034 and Florida at 27,891 deaths.
States with the most road fatalities per year
|State||2018 fatalities||10 years|
Why do these states have the most dangerous roads?
One interesting phenomenon: The top three are also the most populated states with the highest number of drunk driving fatalities. In addition, all have major cities that bottleneck traffic in one location.
These facts show that states with many residents risk more accidents because, as you’d expect, there are more cars on the road. Plus, people who get behind the wheel while intoxicated pose added risk.
Deadliest cities for driving
Highly populated Los Angeles ranks as the deadliest driving city in the US, tallying 628 deaths. Phoenix and Houston take second and third place with 466 fatal accidents in Phoenix and 366 in Houston in 2018, according to the NHTSA.
Again, these cities are some of the most populated cities in America, so stay extra vigilant when driving in these urban areas.
Cities with the most annual road fatalities
Most dangerous time of day to drive
Most people don’t think twice about zipping home after work or road-tripping at night. But statistics show that the riskiest driving times are between 8 pm and 10 pm, according to the NHTSA. Second to that is rush hour anytime from 5 pm to 8 pm. These times are likely when most people are commuting home or going to restaurants or stores.
When you’re not steering clear of weekday traffic, nights and weekends bring more risk with drunk drivers and low visibility, says the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. To avoid this high-risk time of day, try staying off the road from midnight to 3 a.m.
Celebrations and holidays lead to more accidents and drunk driving. While New Year’s might be your first guess, July 4th is the deadliest holiday on the road, according to NHTSA data.
Where are holiday deaths the worst?
You guessed it: Texas. Being one of the biggest deadliest driving states, Texas holds the highest number of deaths for Memorial Day and New Year’s — and is top three for July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Labor Day.
California has the highest rates for July 4th, Thanksgiving and Labor Day.
The most deadly car accidents happen in cities where roads get crowded and during holidays when drunk driving persists. But no matter where you live, you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best by getting insurance protection before getting on the road.
For media inquiries:
More guides on Finder
Which US states are hit most often by hurricanes?
We took a stroll down hurricane alley to learn which states are the most at risk for being hit, what time of year is the most active and which violent storms cost the most.
Driving without car insurance
Since driving uninsured comes with steep penalties, look at your coverage options or consider alternatives.
Accidental death statistics
Find out the top causes of accidental deaths and which states are the deadliest.
States with the strictest driving laws
If you’re relaxed behind the wheel, you’ll want to steer clear of these states with the strictest driving laws.
How to transfer your car registration in 5 basic steps
Learn the basic steps for transferring your car registration from another state or previous car.
Senior driving stats
Compare the good and the risky sides of driving when you’re a senior.
America back in business: States opening up post US shutdown
Finder analyzes which states have started opening after the US shutdown and how long stay-a-home restrictions were in place.
Government reaction times to COVID-19
Finder ranks US states on how they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deadliest cities for driving on Cinco de Mayo
Nearly half of deadly crashes are from drunk driving, especially in these five major cities.
Motorcycle helmet laws by state
Understand motorcycle helmet laws in the states where you ride.
Ask an Expert