Deadliest places to drive in the US

From the most dangerous cities to the riskiest holidays, a few states consistently ride at the top.

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 3,615 drivers for Texas, 3,606 for California and 3,183 for Florida in 2019. Compare that to states with much lower road fatalities, such as Rhode Island’s 57 deaths, Alaska’s 67 deaths or Washington D.C.’s 23 deaths.

And it wasn’t just a bad year for these states. Ten years of data from 2010 to 2019 tell a similar story, with Texas at 34,784 driving fatalities, California seeing 33,223 and Florida at 27,720 deaths.

States with the most road fatalities per year

Search below to see how your state ranks.

State2019 fatalities10 years
Texas 3,615 $34,784
California 3,606 $33,223
Florida 3,183 $27,720
Georgia 1,491 $13,533
North Carolina 1,373 $13,473
Ohio 1,153 $10,855
Tennessee 1,135 $10,140
Pennsylvania 1,059 $12,099
Illinois 1,009 $9,926
South Carolina 1,001 $9,115
Michigan 985 $9,644
Arizona 981 $8,867
New York 931 $10,873
Alabama 930 $9,059
Missouri 880 $8,506
Virginia 831 $7,727
Indiana 809 $8,046
Kentucky 732 $7,369
Louisiana 727 $7,344
Mississippi 643 $6,428
Oklahoma 640 $6,704
Colorado 596 $5,372
Wisconsin 566 $5,759
New Jersey 559 $5,779
Maryland 521 $5,032
Washington 519 $4,958
Arkansas 505 $5,311
Oregon 489 $4,029
New Mexico 424 $3,661
Kansas 411 $4,018
Minnesota 364 $3,828
Iowa 336 $3,461
Massachusetts 334 $3,576
Nevada 304 $2,920
West Virginia 260 $2,991
Connecticut 249 $2,736
Nebraska 248 $2,189
Utah 248 $2,529
Idaho 224 $2,132
Montana 184 $1,989
Maine 157 $1,518
Wyoming 147 $1,288
Delaware 132 $1,149
Hawaii 108 $1,080
South Dakota 102 $1,266
New Hampshire 101 $1,156
North Dakota 100 $1,271
Alaska 67 $686
Rhode Island 57 $609
Vermont 47 $619
District of Columbia 23 $244

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 685 deaths. Maricopa, Arizona and Harris, Texas take second and third place with 442 fatal accidents in Maricopa and 421 in Harris in 2019, 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.

Number of fatal crashes by time of day

Crash timeFatal crashes
12:00 AM 1,221
1:00 AM 1,199
2:00 AM 1,141
3:00 AM 869
4:00 AM 785
5:00 AM 1,091
6:00 AM 1,257
7:00 AM 1,174
8:00 AM 912
9:00 AM 913
10:00 AM 1,030
11:00 AM 1,195
12:00 PM 1,327
1:00 PM 1,418
2:00 PM 1,570
3:00 PM 1,763
4:00 PM 1,707
5:00 PM 1,747
6:00 PM 1,910
7:00 PM 1,810
8:00 PM 1,904
9:00 PM 1,941
10:00 PM 1,611
11:00 PM 1,500
Maryland 521
Washington 519
Arkansas 505
Oregon 489
New Mexico 424
Kansas 411
Minnesota 364
Iowa 336
Massachusetts 334
Nevada 304
West Virginia 260
Connecticut 249
Nebraska 248
Utah 248
Idaho 224
Montana 184
Maine 157
Wyoming 147
Delaware 132
Hawaii 108
South Dakota 102
New Hampshire 101
North Dakota 100
Alaska 67
Rhode Island 57
Vermont 47
District of Columbia 23

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.
Thanksgiving
ThanksgivingIt’s a high-risk weekend to drive that hits around 350 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 weekend of summer sees almost 400 fatalities each year, and many of those happen in California.
Houston landscape
New Year’s DayJanuary 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: California. Being one of the biggest deadliest driving states, Texas holds the highest number of deaths for New Year’s, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas — and is in the top three for Memorial Day.

Texas has the highest rates for Memorial 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.

Previous deadliest cities and state studies

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