Key findings:

  • Over 3,100 deaths were recorded on Thanksgiving Day, breaking the daily COVID-19 death record.
  • In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 799 auto fatalities would occur across the U.S. over the Christmas and New Year holiday.
  • West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama have the most at-risk seniors with underlying health conditions.
  • North Dakota, Rhode Island and South Dakota have the highest COVID-19 cases and death rates per 100,000 in the last seven days.
  • Nevada, Wyoming and Georgia have the fewest vaccinated adults, causing more concern for the seasonal flu as well as a higher adoption rate for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Wyoming, Virginia and Colorado ranked 2020’s worst-driving states in our fifth annual Best and Worst Drivers by State.

Every year, holiday travel presents its own dangers on the roads. In 2019, the NHTSA estimated nearly 800 auto fatalities to occur from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. However, holiday travel in 2020 will have the added dangers of traveling during a pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising against holiday travel, but given the nine million that traveled over Thanksgiving, the December holiday is likely to see high travel numbers as well.

With holiday travel estimated to see strong numbers, dangers on the roads and COVID-19 make for serious risks while seeing friends and family this year. Depending where you’re traveling, those risks can be greater than other destinations. Our research team at QuoteWizard compiled a number of holiday travel risk factors to see which states were considered riskier than others to visit this holiday season.

We looked at dangerous driving comparisons to evaluate road travel risk and compared those figures with COVID-19-related risk factors. Overall, we evaluated eight risk factors in each state to compile our ranking of the riskiest states to travel to this holiday season. These factors include:

  • Dangerous driving states - These rankings are compiled from QuoteWizard’s annual best and worst driver study. Each state's driver quality ranking is based on the rate of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs. In the 2020 best and worst driver study, Wyoming, Virginia and Colorado drivers were rated the most dangerous.
  • Seniors with underlying health conditions - We analyzed CDC prevalence data that looks at seniors with high-risk COVID-19-related health issues that include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Our findings saw West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama to be states with the highest rates of seniors with high-risk COVID-19-related health conditions.
  • Adult vaccination rates - QuoteWizard analyzed the Commonwealth Fund’s Health System Data on adults with age-appropriate vaccinations. Common age-appropriate vaccines include the common influenza vaccination. Our final ranking is based on states that had the lowest percentages of vaccinated adults in 2019. Nevada, Wyoming and Georgia had the lowest rates of vaccinations among adults.
  • Hospital capacity - To evaluate health care capacity, we analyzed Health and Human Services (HHS) and Kaiser Family Foundation data, looking at IUC beds and physicians per 1,000 people in each state. In follow-up analysis, we also compared HHS data for estimated ICU beds in use. This capacity figure is intended to show the total current capacity of ICU beds as of November 13. Wyoming, Montana and Hawaii were found to have the lowest hospital capacities.
  • COVID-19 cases and death rates - We looked at the most recent (Monday, December 14) CDC data on United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State in the last seven days per 100,000 from all 50 states. North Dakota, Rhode Island and South Dakota were found to have the highest rates of cases and deaths per 100,000 people.

riskiest states to travel for holidays

Methodology

QuoteWizard analyzed three driving and three health metrics to determine which states are the riskiest for pandemic holiday travel. In addition, we looked at the most recent (Tuesday, December 15) CDC data on United States COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by State in the last seven days per 100,000 people from all 50 states. Each metric was then ranked on a scale of 1 to 50, representing the safest to riskiest conditions for specific state travel. We then determined each state’s safety ranking by totaling across all metric scores to calculate its overall ranking and used the resulting scores to rank-order each of the states.

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