Key findings:

  • New Mexico, New Jersey and Washington have the most distracted drivers.
  • Mississippi, Oregon and Nevada have the least distracted.
  • Distracted driving is on the decline from 2013 to 2017.
  • 15,546 fatal distracted driving fatalities from 2013 to 2017.

Distracted driving has become what some would refer to as an epidemic. The advent of smartphones in recent years only compounds drivers' level of distraction. But distracted driving by use of phones and other hand-held devices is a fairly new occurrence. In 2001, New York became the first state to institute a ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving. Since then, most states have followed suit with cell phone bans and penalties for use of cell phones while driving.

However, bans on cell phones and penalties can only do so much in the deterrence of distracted driving. Mississippi, the least distracted state in our study has a partial ban, with no penalties, on cell phones. New Mexico, the most distracted state in our study, also has a partial ban with no penalties. The good news is that distracted driving is on the decline: distracted driving fatalities accounted for 6.22% of all driving fatalities in 2013, and in 2017, that number was down to 5.3%.

Public awareness campaigns have been a common voice to the dangers of distracted driving. It Can Wait, sponsored by cell phone service provider AT&T, and other campaigns sponsored by cell phone providers speak the loudest. Technology has become a solution in recent years. Not only with hands-free talk and text but also with iPhone and Android operating systems offering solutions to prevent incoming calls and text messages, keeping incoming distractions off of phones.

QuoteWizard analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fatality data to find which states had the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities. We took a total number of distracted driving fatalities in each state over the period of 2013 to 2017 and ranked states on the number of distracted driving car crashes as a percentage of total fatal car crashes. States are ranked from 1 being the most distracted to 50 being the least distracted.

Most distracted driving states

Rank State Distracted fatalities Total fatalities % Distracted fatality
1 New Mexico 604 2287 26.41
2 New Jersey 750 3973 18.87
3 Washington 626 3566 17.55
4 Kentucky 842 5088 16.54
5 Hawaii 105 672 15.62
6 Kansas 408 2627 15.53
7 Louisiana 664 5037 13.18
8 Virginia 601 5166 11.63
9 Maryland 403 3554 11.33
10 Idaho 147 1431 10.27
11 Wisconsin 391 3915 9.98
12 Massachusetts 214 2327 9.19
13 New York 639 7250 8.81
14 Colorado 315 3921 8.03
15 Tennessee 552 6986 7.95
16 Wyoming 58 782 7.41
17 Texas 1835 24897 7.37
18 Montana 87 1196 7.27
19 New Hampshire 54 751 7.19
20 Minnesota 182 2771 6.56
21 North Carolina 610 9448 6.45
22 Missouri 350 5866 5.96
23 Arizona 293 4934.7 5.99
24 Oklahoma 269 4623 5.81
25 Utah 105 1859 5.64
26 Delaware 48 856 5.60
27 Maine 52 1006 5.16
28 Florida 1021 20184 5.05
29 Nebraska 76 1526 4.98
30 North Dakota 38 839 4.52
31 Vermont 17 388 4.38
32 Iowa 98 2276 4.30
33 Alaska 20 466 4.29
34 South Carolina 268 6285 4.26
35 South Dakota 33 825 4.00
36 Alabama 230 6010 3.82
37 Ohio 281 7834 3.58
38 Rhode Island 13 374 3.47
39 Pennsylvania 287 8395 3.41
40 Illinois 243 7114 3.41
41 West Virginia 64 1887 3.39
42 Georgia 306 9723 3.14
43 Indiana 185 5885 3.14
44 Michigan 209 7080 2.95
45 Arkansas 104 3535 2.94
46 California 655 23498 2.78
47 Connecticut 46 1915 2.40
48 Nevada 44 2162 2.03
49 Oregon 50 2750 1.81
50 Mississippi 54 4260 1.26

Methodology

QuoteWizard analyzed NHTSA fatality data to find which states had the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities. We took a total number of distracted driving fatalities in each state over the period of 2013 to 2017 and ranked states on the number of distracted driving car crashes as a percentage of total fatal car crashes. States are ranked from 1 being the most distracted to 50 being the least distracted.