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?

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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

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State2018 fatalities10 years
Texas364234000
California356333034
Florida313327891
Georgia150413710
North Carolina143713742
Pennsylvania119012713
Ohio106810998
Tennessee104110197
South Carolina10379203
Illinois10319961
Arizona10108730
Michigan9749732
Alabama9539094
New York94311534
Missouri9218654
Indiana8588010
Virginia8207900
Louisiana7687620
Kentucky7247582
Mississippi6646533
Oklahoma6556830
Colorado6325298
Wisconsin5885795
New Jersey5646012
Washington5465045
Arkansas5165463
Oregon5063934
Maryland5015235
Kansas4043933
New Mexico3913539
Minnesota3813941
Massachusetts3603731
Nevada3302929
Iowa3183520
West Virginia2943170
Connecticut2942832
Utah2602529
Idaho2312158
Nebraska2302129
Montana1822037
New Hampshire1471207
Maine1371554
South Dakota1301250
Hawaii1171108
Delaware1111162
Wyoming1111266
North Dakota1051250
Alaska80682
Vermont68651
Rhode Island59664
D.C.31269

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

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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.

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Deadliest holidays

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.

4th july
Fourth of July
This weekend sees over 450 fatal accidents each year. In the past 10 years, nearly 46% of accidents on the 4th were related to drunk driving.
memorial day
Memorial Day
Another top drunk driving day comes in second with 360 fatal accidents per year — and about 37% of those are caused by drunk drivers.
Thanks giving
Thanksgiving
It’s a high-risk weekend to drive that hits around 330 driving-related deaths each year.
christmas angel
Christmas
Holiday merrymaking leads to about 260 fatalities from year to year. And a huge majority of its drunk driving fatalities happened during night hours.
notebook and coffee
Labor Day
The last holiday of summer sees a solid 300 fatalities each year, and many of those happen in California.
Houston landscape
New Year’s Day
January celebrations cause around 250 fatal accidents annually, with drunk drivers causing shy of half those deaths.

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.

Bottom line

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.

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