Despite a year of curfews and stay at home orders resulting in fewer cars on the road, some states actually saw an increase in fatal crashes. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found an increase in speeding, drivers under the influence and fewer people wearing seatbelts. New Jersey saw a 13% increase in fatal crashes with 2019 and 2018 having roughly 524 fatal crashes to 2020’s 590. And if you can believe it, New Jersey isn’t even in the top 25 for worst drivers by state. The states with the worst drivers have a few things in common — their drivers take many different risks, and most are located down South.
To score states on their driving, Finder’s experts looked at information from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Google Trends. Our full methodology can be found at the end.
Top 5 states with the worst drivers
It turns out that mostly Southern states are home to the worst drivers in America — seven of the top 10 states with the worst drivers are in the South.
We found these risk-taking states by comparing 10 different ranking factors, including DUI arrests and fatal crashes caused by speeding, hit-and-runs and more.
- Drivers in Mississippi are the most likely to take risks on the road over any other state.
- About 60 deadly accidents happen per 100K drivers, the highest fatal crash rate in the country.
- For every 100K drivers, 541 Mississippians get arrested for DUI.
- Nearly 24% of drivers go without insurance, the second highest in the country.
- Texas is a close second when it comes to its drivers taking chances.
- About 37 deadly car crashes happen per 100K Texan drivers.
- 727 drivers get arrested for DUI, per 100K drivers.
- 14% of Lone Star state drivers go uninsured.
3. New Mexico
- New Mexico takes the third spot for more reckless rides than other states.
- About 52 deadly crashes happen per 100K drivers, the third-highest rate in America.
- 587 New Mexican drivers per 100K get arrested for DUI here.
- 21% of its drivers don’t have car insurance, also the third highest in the country.
- About 39 deadly car crashes happen per 100K Missouri drivers.
- 685 drivers get arrested for DUI, per 100K drivers.
- 14% of drivers risk going uninsured.
- 50 fatal accidents happen for every 100K drivers on Oklahoma roads.
- 774 Oklahomans get arrested for DUI per 100K drivers.
- About 11% of its drivers don’t buy car insurance.
Top 5 states with the best drivers
Northern states are home to the best drivers in America — eight of the top 10 states with the best drivers call the Northern US home.
- The Bay State ranks at the top for having the safest drivers in America.
- 13 fatal crashes happen for every 100K drivers, the second lowest in the US.
- About 386 Massachusetts drivers get arrested for DUI, per 100K drivers.
- 6% of drivers run the risk of driving without insurance.
- Pennsylvania gets the second-best spot for safe driving.
- 22 deadly crashes happen per 100K drivers in Pennsylvania.
- About 280 Pennsylvanians get arrested for drunk driving, per 100K drivers.
- 8% of drivers in Pennsylvania go without insurance.
- The Green Mountain State ranks as one of the safest states for driving.
- About 16 fatal accidents happen per 100K Vermont drivers.
- 954 Vermont drivers get arrested for DUI per 100K drivers.
- About 7% of drivers drive without insurance in the Green Mountain State.
- 18 deadly car crashes happen for every 100K Connecticut drivers.
- About 586 drivers get arrested for DUI per 100K drivers here.
- 9% of drivers go uninsured in Connecticut.
5. New York
- About 15 fatal accidents happen per 100K New York drivers.
- About 423 New York drivers get arrested for DUI per 100K drivers.
- About 6% of drivers go without insurance in the Empire State, the third lowest in the country.
Worst drivers by state rankings
|Rank (1 = worst)||State||Fatal crash rate per 100K drivers||Fatal crash involving a drunk driver per 100K drivers||Fatal crash involving a drowsy driver per 100K drivers||DUI arrests per 100K drivers||Percentage of uninsured drivers||Overall score|
Fast facts: The averages for risk-taking on the road
How does your state compare to the average risk-taking on roads across America?
1. Fatal accidents: American drivers average about 29 fatal accidents for every 100,000 drivers roaming the country.
2. Drunk driving and speeding: Americans see an average rate of 8.2 drunk driving fatalities and 7.6 speeding fatalities per 100K drivers.
3. DUI arrests: An average of 613 Americans get arrested for DUI per 100K drivers.
4. Google searches for tickets: Georgians search Google for speeding tickets the most of any state, followed closely by Louisiana and North Dakota. Meanwhile, Nevadans rise to the top for the most traffic ticket searches, with California and Florida falling just underneath.
How reckless driving affects car insurance
If you cause a car accident or get caught drunk driving, expect to see your rates jump as much as 50%, although insurers in some states charge over 80% higher rates for a DUI.
Even a speeding ticket could raise insurance rates by 20% to 30%, depending on how many tickets or past claims you’ve had. However, your raised car insurance rate depends on the type of accident or violation you receive.
How to improve your driving skills
To avoid falling in the camp of risky drivers, follow a few tips for accountability and general safety rules for the road.
- Join a telematics or safe driver program. Most major insurers offer programs that track your driving, offer safety tips and reward you with discounts.
- Take a refresher driving course. A low-cost online course could refresh your safety knowledge while landing a 5–10% discount off your insurance.
- Slow down on the roads. One of the biggest factors involved in deadly crashes is speeding. Sticking close to the speed limit immediately improves your safety.
- Get a designated driver if you plan to drink. You can guard yourself against drunk driving by designating a sober driver or calling a rideshare or cab when you go out to drink.
To determine the best and worst drivers by state, Finder compared the states and Washington, DC across 10 ranking factors. We scored each factor on an index with scores closer to 0 representing the states with the best drivers and 100 representing the states with the worst drivers. A score of 50 suggests the average score across all the states and DC.
How we distributed points for each of the ranking factors:
- Fatal crashes per 100K drivers overall (20 points)
- Fatal crashes per 100K drivers involving:
- a drunk driver (4 points)
- speeding (4 points)
- a distracted driver (4 points)
- a drowsy driver (4 points)
- a hit and run (4 points)
- DUI arrests per 100K drivers (20 points)
- Percentage of uninsured drivers (20 points)
- Google trends search interest in
- “speeding ticket” (10 points)
- “traffic ticket” (10 points)
For all media inquiries, please contact:
Chelsea Gregori, Public Relations Specialist
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