Summer, the busiest driving season of the year, is upon us. Roads across America are packed with sightseers, road-trippers, commuters, and everyone in between. That unfortunately also means that roads are more dangerous than usual. Why? An increase in total drivers is also an increase in bad drivers – more in some metro areas than others.
The year's deadliest driving months are July and August, with more average road fatalities than any other month. People drive more miles during the summer months and, consequently, get into more accidents. If you’re planning on hitting the road this summer, keep your head on a swivel.
Every area has their share of bad drivers, but not every area is equal when it comes to bad driving. Some cities have drivers of significantly worse quality than others, and we have the stats to prove it. After last year's study on the Best and Worst Drivers by City, we reanalyzed America's best and worst drivers based on where they live.
How does your city stack up against the rest? From very worst to the better, here’s our annual ranking of our nation’s worst drivers by city (most populous 75 markets in the US):
America's Worst Drivers: The Five Worst
This year's winner (or loser) of the dubious honor of being America's worst driving city is Omaha! Nebraska's largest city jumped from eighth-worst in 2017 to first-worst. How did they do it? Propelling their rise to the top are sizeable increases in accidents, speeding, and driving violations. Omaha drivers actually managed to decrease their DUI rate, but it wasn't enough to keep them out of the top spot.
Last summer, Nebraska State Patrol clocked an Omaha motorcyclist going 146 mph (in a 55, no less) on the West Dodge Expressway. According to our study, he's not the only driver pushing past the speed limit. What's got Omaha drivers putting the pedal to the metal and crashing into stuff? Are they trying to get to Runza before it closes? Whatever the reason, the stats are clear: This year, Omaha has the worst drivers in America.
Congratulations Riverside drivers! 2017's third-worst driving city is now 2018's second-worst driving city. The Inland Empire's unofficial capital earned their spot on the list thanks to a higher DUI rate than any other city. Riverside is in the middle of the pack when it comes to accidents, and slightly worse than average for speeding and accidents.
It appears that Riverside drivers have a habit of mixing booze and cars. The city's strong reliance on cars may have something to do with that. According to Time Magazine, Riverside has the second worst public transportation in the country. On top of that, California has some of the cheapest booze in the country. Bottom line: if you're getting tipsy in Riverside (or anywhere, for that matter), don't get behind the wheel.
Things are looking up in Sactown. Last year's worst-driving city is now only a distant third! A drop in speeding and accidents improved Sacramento's overall driving score, even though they stayed relatively static in terms of DUIs and violations.
It seems that Sacramento's designation as 2017's worst driving city in America may have inspired their drivers to clean up their act this year. Here's hoping they continue to improve in 2019.
Ohio's capital city is the birth place of Guy Fieri, the legendary Mayor of Flavortown. It's also home to some impressively bad drivers. Though Columbus cut down on accidents and speeding, they increased their DUI and violation rates. That was enough to boost them from seventh-worst to fourth-worst. Considering the fact that Columbus was recently named one of America's best cities for beer drinkers, their propensity for buzzed driving should come as no surprise.
San Francisco is the home of tech giants, NBA champions, skyrocketing rents, and, apparently, terrible drivers. As one of this year's biggest movers, the Bay Area jumped from 13th worst last year to fifth worst. They performed worse in every category, particularly accidents and speeding.
It's not exactly shocking when you consider that Bay Area drivers fight some of the world's worst traffic. After all, between rolling hills and winding roads, it's clear that the city wasn't built for cars. And it's possible that the increase in citations is due to the glut of rideshare drivers clogging the streets, with SFPD reporting that nearly two-thirds of all downtown traffic citations went to Lyft and Uber drivers.
America's Best Drivers: The Five Best
Upgrading from Bronze to Gold, Orlando is 2018's best driving city. Their great ranking is buoyed by rock-bottom DUI and speeding rates. While the city is nationally recognized for a plethora of theme parks and a booming tourism industry, we think Orlando's surprisingly great drivers deserve some of the spotlight.
Orlando beat out several Florida cities including second place Miami, 16th place Tampa, 22nd place Bradenton, and 28th place Jacksonville. No city has better drivers in the Sunshine State (or the United States) apparently.
With 50 miles of beautiful beaches, Miami locals have a lot to brag about. The city has more than just natural beauty as a source of pride including year-round tropical weather, a booming party scene, and Cuban food better than Cuba.
Miamians can add great drivers to their list of accolades, as they're our second-best driving city in America (and Florida, apparently). They jumped from fourth in 2017 to second this year thanks to impressively low DUI and speeding rates.
El Paso is one of our study's biggest movers, leaping from 12th best in 2017 to third best this year. Their improvement comes on the back of vastly lower DUI and accident rates. They beat every other Texas city, with Houston and Dallas coming in at eighth and 12th best, respectively. Even further down the line were 26th best San Antonio and 46th place Austin. When it comes to good drives in Texas, El Paso takes the cake.
The home of America's automobile industry is also home to some pretty good drivers. It's not shocking that residents of the birthplace of the Ford Model T can handle their business on the road. Detroit handily out-drives their Michigan neighbors over in Grand Rapids, who came in at 19th best. This is a sliver of good news for Detroit residents, as Michigan drivers pay the highest car insurance rates in the country.
Hats off to Little Rock for their consistency, as they're the fifth best drivers in America for the second year in a row! Violation rates increased substantially, but it was offset by an improvement in their speeding rate. They're the only Arkansas city to appear on the list, although they crushed their Memphis neighbors just across the state line in Tennessee.
How did we statistically identify bad drivers? We used 2017 incident stats with more than one million data points from QuoteWizard users across the country. To quantify overall driver quality for comparison, we weighted incident counts for each city with its frequency.
The final rankings are a sum of weighted means calculated from these driving incidents:
- Speeding tickets
- Citations like running a red light or using a cellphone while driving
QuoteWizard then ranked each US city from worst to best based on this data.
How Bad Drivers Affect Your Car Insurance Rates
There's a lot of complex math that goes into pricing your car insurance policy. One of the most important factors is your risk-level. How likely are you to file a claim? Even if you're a great driver, one mistake from another driver is enough to make you file a claim. Because of this, people in cities with a higher-than-average percentage of bad drivers pay more for car insurance.
If you live in a city with bad drivers like Omaha, Riverside, or Sacramento, getting a good deal on car insurance is an absolute necessity. You’re probably going to pay more for car insurance, especially if you’re one of those bad drivers. The best way to do that is to shop around and compare car insurance quotes from different companies. QuoteWizard can help you with that.