Fall travel in 2021 is starting to look a lot like fall travel in 2020. COVID-19 cases are rising nationwide, and many destinations have brought back mask mandates. How each state is responding to the coronavirus is once again a major factor in our evaluation of the riskiest states for fall travel.

Key findings:

  • South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia are the riskiest states for fall travel.
  • New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut are the safest states for fall travel.
  • Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi were the riskiest states when evaluated on health factors alone.
  • Tennessee, Iowa and North Dakota were the riskies states when evaluated on driving factors alone.

To find the riskiest states for fall travel, we evaluated each state based on ten different health and safety factors. COVID-19 case rates, vaccination rates, hospital capacity and the number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs were all considered. In the end, our analysts found that South Carolina is the riskiest state for fall travel.

Riskiest states for fall travel
Overall rank State Health rank Driving rank
1 South Carolina 2 18
2 Tennessee 11 1
3 Georgia 1 26
4 Idaho 8 6
5 Alaska 10 8
6 Mississippi 3 40
7 Texas 6 33
8 Wyoming 14 14
9 Arkansas 7 37
10 North Carolina 13 22
11 Alabama 5 44
12 Utah 25 7
13 Oregon 20 17
14 Virginia 27 4
15 Indiana 22 20
16 Oklahoma 4 50
17 Louisiana 9 46
18 Florida 19 28
19 North Dakota 33 3
20 New Mexico 17 31
21 Washington 21 27
22 Missouri 15 38
23 Arizona 12 41
24 Nevada 18 32
25 California 29 9
26 Rhode Island 31 13
27 Kentucky 16 42
28 Wisconsin 34 5
29 Kansas 26 21
30 Montana 24 30
31 Colorado 30 19
32 Iowa 43 2
33 Hawaii 28 34
34 Nebraska 37 12
35 Minnesota 35 23
36 Ohio 40 15
37 West Virginia 23 48
38 Maine 39 25
39 South Dakota 36 29
40 Maryland 46 10
41 New Jersey 47 11
42 Vermont 45 24
43 Pennsylvania 38 36
44 Delaware 32 49
45 Massachusetts 49 16
46 Michigan 44 43
47 Illinois 41 45
48 New Hampshire 42 47
49 New York 48 35
50 Connecticut 50 39

While more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, we believe the coronavirus will continue to play a large role in people’s fall travel plans. When measured on health factors alone, we found that Georgia is the riskiest place for fall travel.

Health rankings by state
State Overall health rank Unvaccinated rank Hospital capacity COVID deaths rank 7-day moving average COVID cases rank
Georgia 1 10 1 16 6
South Carolina 2 11 2 6 5
Mississippi 3 3 8 3 1
Oklahoma 4 15 5 10 12
Alabama 5 6 7 12 11
Texas 6 25 3 9 13
Arkansas 7 16 11 2 7
Idaho 8 1 9 11 23
Louisiana 9 7 27 1 2
Alaska 10 17 16 13 10
Tennessee 11 8 23 19 8
Arizona 12 23 10 15 20
North Carolina 13 19 18 14 14
Wyoming 14 2 36 4 9
Missouri 15 14 24 7 21
Kentucky 16 24 20 23 4
New Mexico 17 43 4 27 22
Nevada 18 28 21 5 24
Florida 19 32 12 37 3
Oregon 20 33 19 17 16
Washington 21 39 13 20 19
Indiana 22 9 29 22 17
West Virginia 23 4 37 25 18
Montana 24 12 33 18 25
Utah 25 22 26 24 26
Kansas 26 26 35 8 28
Virginia 27 35 17 30 31
Hawaii 28 48 22 32 15
California 29 41 6 49 41
Colorado 30 31 15 43 39
Rhode Island 31 46 14 33 37
Delaware 32 34 32 21 27
North Dakota 33 5 38 41 35
Wisconsin 34 29 34 29 33
Minnesota 35 30 25 45 38
South Dakota 36 20 41 50 29
Nebraska 37 27 40 46 30
Pennsylvania 38 42 30 36 43
Maine 39 45 31 26 50
Ohio 40 13 48 42 32
Illinois 41 36 45 28 34
New Hampshire 42 38 39 39 45
Iowa 43 21 42 48 36
Michigan 44 18 47 38 46
Vermont 45 50 28 47 48
Maryland 46 40 43 34 49
New Jersey 47 44 44 40 42
New York 48 37 49 35 40
Massachusetts 49 49 46 44 44
Connecticut 50 47 50 31 47

Airline travel made a significant comeback this summer, but this fall, more people will be driving to their vacation destination. After looking at each state’s number of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs, we found that Tennessee is the riskiest place for that long road trip.

Driving rankings by state
State Overall driving rank DUI's rank Accidents rank Speeding rank
Tennessee 1 2 1 6
Iowa 2 6 12 5
North Dakota 3 3 16 7
Virginia 4 15 13 11
Wisconsin 5 11 26 2
Idaho 6 8 17 15
Utah 7 10 9 21
Alaska 8 13 20 10
California 9 5 4 37
Maryland 10 37 5 4
New Jersey 11 33 10 3
Nebraska 12 7 8 33
Rhode Island 13 28 3 19
Wyoming 14 1 29 26
Ohio 15 17 25 17
Massachusetts 16 24 2 34
Oregon 17 22 22 20
South Carolina 18 48 7 9
Colorado 19 20 33 13
Indiana 20 16 21 29
Kansas 21 26 27 14
North Carolina 22 23 18 27
Minnesota 23 14 44 12
Vermont   36 14 23
Maine 25 32 11 31
Georgia 26 35 15 28
Washington 27 30 24 24
Florida 28 34 6 39
South Dakota 29 12 47 22
Montana 30 4 35 44
New Mexico 31 9 32 50
Nevada 32 21 28 43
Texas 33 31 19 42
Hawaii 34 49 43 1
New York 35 50 36 8
Pennsylvania 36 25 34 35
Arkansas 37 27 38 30
Missouri 38 43 39 16
Connecticut 39 44 23 32
Mississippi 40 18 37 49
Arizona 41 29 40 36
Kentucky 42 19 46 41
Michigan 43 38 50 18
Alabama 44 39 30 46
Illinois 45 45 45 25
Louisiana 46 41 31 45
New Hampshire 47 46 42 40
West Virginia 48 42 49 38
Delaware 49 47 41 47
Oklahoma 50 40 48 48

Our analysis found that six of the top ten riskiest states to travel to this fall are in the southern part of the United States. This is largely due to the region’s COVID-19 response. Many of the hospitals in this region are either at or near capacity and a significant portion of the population remains unvaccinated.

According to a recent survey, nearly 60% of people say the delta variant is making them more reluctant to travel and 32% have already canceled trips. This shows that while the coronavirus is a major factor in our rankings, it will also continue to be a major factor in people’s travel decisions moving forward.

Methodology

QuoteWizard analyzed ten safety metrics to find out the most dangerous states to travel to. This includes driving accidents, speeding, DUIs, COVID-19 cases and deaths, unvaccinated rates and hospital capacity which includes hospital beds, physicians, ICU bed capacity and staffing shortages. Each metric was ranked on a 1-50 scale, with an ascending score representing the least safe to safest conditions for specific state travel. We then determined each state’s safety ranking by averaging across all metric scores to calculate its overall ranking and used the resulting scores to rank-order each state.

Adult COVID-19 vaccination rates: QuoteWizard analyzed CDC data on adults who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Our ranking is based on states that had the lowest to highest percentages of adults with at least one dose of a vaccine as of August 30th.

Dangerous driving states: Driving rankings were compiled from QuoteWizard’s proprietary data. State’s were ranked based on the rate of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs.

COVID-19 case and death rates: We looked at CDC data on United States COVID-19 Cases and deaths by state per 100K in the last seven days starting August 26th.

Hospital capacity: We averaged four metrics, hospital beds and physicians per 1000 residents, current ICU bed capacity, and rate of hospital staffing shortages. To calculate the number of available ICU beds in each state, we used data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) compiled starting on Aug. 19. Data on the number of ICU beds and physicians per capita was compiled using information from the Kaiser Family Foundation and HHS. To calculate the least prepared states for hospital capacity, we generated an aggregate score based on the number of available ICU beds, physicians per capita and current hospital capacity.