With the holiday travel season upon us, QuoteWizard paired two million data points with state fatality info to determine the best and worst driving states in the nation—and to help settle a few rivalries, too. We also ranked all 50 states based on these findings.
If you’ve ever been cut off by an idiot with an out-of-state plate and thought, “Oh, it figures,” we’ve got some data for you! See how your state, or your rival, stacks up in QuoteWizard’s study of the best and worst drivers in America.
We sampled incident data (with more than two million data points) from the users of our website and linearly extrapolated it to Federal Highway Administration fatality data. To quantify overall driver standards for comparison, we weighted various incident counts for each state with its occurrence percentage. The final rankings are a sum of weighted means that is calculated from total accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations, and fatalities.
From worst to best, here are the rankings of all 50 states. On this particular list, worst is first, so the lower a state is on this particular list, the better the drivers. And for a graphical representation of the state rankings, the darker the shade of blue appears, the worse the driving. Read more below for insights on the best (and worst) driving states in the union, as well as a look at how some state-by-state rivalries stack up when it comes to driving prowess.
At 48 miles long and 37 miles wide, Rhode Island is famously the smallest state in the union. The state has another claim to fame with QuoteWizard: they’re America’s best drivers! It’s kind of hard to believe that a state with a reputation for potholes, nor’easters, and fiery Italian temperaments could score so highly, but it’s true. Extremely low fatalities per licensed drivers combined with good scores across the board mean that Rhode Islanders have plenty to be proud of. Of course, their excellent driving records might be due to the fact that a 20-minute drive is considered a road trip. By the time the damage is done, they’re probably past the state line and it’s Connecticut's problem.
Florida is best known for two things: the “Florida Man” headlines generated by its eccentric residents, and its many retirees. You wouldn’t expect either of these demographics to produce excellent driving stats, but this sunny state has the second-best driving record in the US. What’s keeping them from being number one in the country? Their fatality stats are notably higher than Rhode Island’s, but according to our data points Floridians actually get fewer citations. Of course, had we also considered the percentage of drivers operating their vehicles without car insurance, Florida wouldn't be anywhere close to their spot in second. Nearly 24 percent of Florida motorists are uninsured! The top cities attributing to Florida being such good drivers are Orlando, Hialeah, and Miami in that order.
Mississippi, have we got some good news for you: you’re home to the third-best drivers in the US! According to our data, your drivers are getting into fewer accidents—and getting fewer citations, DUIs, or speeding tickets—than more than 90 percent of America. This is good news for a state that’s used to coming in near the bottom. Mississippi also has the country’s highest poverty rate, highest unemployment rate, and lowest life expectancy in America. But at least the residents are darn good drivers.
According to our data, Utah’s drivers are the worst in the union. They’re second in the rankings for both accidents and speeding, as well as fourth-worst for minor citations. Surprising for a state known for its non-drinking populace, Utah actually made the top 10 for DUIs, coming in at number nine. On the bright side, Utah missed our list of worst states for fatalities, so at least fewer people are dying in all those accidents.
For a state with the most miles of interstate highway, you’d think California would have better drivers. Or maybe long commutes under a blazing sun are just a recipe for collisions and road rage. California is number seven for accidents, number nine for speeding, and number five for citations. Even worse, it’s number two for DUIs, and the second-worst state overall. Interestingly, the economy might be to blame for California’s low rankings—going to work usually means driving in California, and more driving means more accidents. Miles traveled per person increased 27 percent in Sacramento between 2009 and 2014, for example, and that could be due to the state’s economic upswing post-recession. Sacramento driver’s increase in miles traveled could be the reason for the city being the second worse driving city in the state. Oakland takes the top spot as the worst drivers in California with Anaheim coming in third.
Virginia is the worst state for speeding. Not too surprisingly, it’s also number two in citations. The state doesn’t make the lists for accidents or fatalities, though, which makes you wonder: are Virginians the worst drivers, or just the biggest rule breakers? Because it seems that, despite all their law-breaking, they don’t get into many fender benders. Their records are still bad enough to come in third overall for worst drivers in America, however. Of the worst driving cities in Virginia, Hampton is number one as they are the guiltiest of speeding in the state. Portsmouth comes in second followed by Richmond, and are both cities exhibiting a lead foot.
And the Rivals:
Republicans vs. Democrats
Democrats and Republicans are used to fighting over just about everything. We live in a polarized nation, and it’s easy to blame the other party for everything from the economy to ISIS. It’s also easy for our driving situations to become politically weighted. When a pickup truck with a gun rack squares off against a Prius with a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker on the highway, you can bet there are some political associations. No doubt both parties think they’re the better drivers. So like any pundit tries to parse around election time, who’s right and who’s wrong?
According to our ranks, Republican-leaning states have better drivers. We took the state electoral results from the 2016 Presidential election and the results from our incident data shows that Red states tend to have better drivers than Blue states. We took the average weighted sum of the 19 blue states and 30 red states which showed Republican-leaning states being the better drivers by a 7% margin. Democrat-leaning states on average come in behind Republican states in terms of accidents, speeding, DUIs, fatalities, and citations overall. Good news for proud residents of red states!
East Coast vs. West Coast
Who do you think was a better driver: California’s Tupac Shakur or New York’s Biggie Smalls? Do you sing along when the Beach Boys come on the radio, or are you waiting for a Velvet Underground song? Are you more Wall Street or Silicon Valley?
Both the West Coast and East Coast have their fair to brag about, complain about, and defend. QuoteWizard wanted to find out who’s the better driver, so we stacked the Western states against the Eastern to find out. We used the same regional classifications as the US census. The Northeast Region includes the states Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. The Western states include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and Hawaii.
Drumroll, please. And the winner is: East Coast! Sorry, “Best Coast,” but you missed it by a mile. After we compared the weighted scores of the two regions and accounted for the number of states in each region, the East Coast wins with a 13 percent margin of victory. Not too surprising, considering that two of the worst states—Utah and California—are on the West Coast, while the East Coast has Rhode Island, the best state overall.
South Carolina vs. North Carolina
If you’ve ever wondered who has worse drivers—South Carolina or North Carolina—the verdict is in. South Carolina, we’re afraid you’re the big loser. Number three in accidents, number three in speeding, number eight in citations, and number seven in fatalities. North Carolina doesn’t even make any of those top 10 lists. And overall, South Carolina residents are the sixth-worst drivers in the US. North Carolinians manage a respectable number 27 on the list, making them not only better drivers than their neighbors to the south, but better than those in half the other states as well. .
Michigan vs. Ohio
This has to be one of the most storied state rivalries of all time. It began with the old Toledo War of 1835, and plays out to this day between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes on the gridiron. So who are the worse drivers?
According to our data, Michigan crushes Ohio when it comes to driving ability. Michigan drivers are some of the best in the nation, coming in fourth overall. It’s pretty amazing for a state with such violent weather, but Michigan’s fatality ratings are quite low and its driving behavior commendable. Ohio, however, is the 17th worst on our list. It might be because Ohio drivers get a lot more speeding tickets—they’re number seven for worst speeding offenders nationwide—but its fatalities are also higher. Hopefully the Buckeyes will be able to compensate this season for some sub-par Ohio driving.
New Jersey vs. New York
This is one of those state rivalries that goes much deeper than sports. It’s a rivalry of identity, not to mention a fight for New Jersey’s beaches and the New York streets. Each state sometimes resents the other, but whose drivers reign supreme? We can imagine what a New York cab driver or Jersey commuter might tell you, but we know what the data says. We have to agree with Frank Sinatra on this one: New York is better.
New York is 38th on our list of worst-driving states. Otherwise put, they’re 13th best. Their good scores aren’t a huge surprise for a city that boasts the best public transit system in America (not to mention a fleet of taxi drivers who’ve been driving for decades). New Jersey, however, pulling in at the . Not only does New Jersey have extremely high fatality ratings, but they’re also third on our list for most citations. When it comes to driving, the Garden State doesn’t look so lush anymore.
How Bad Driving Affects Your Car Insurance Rates
Whether you live in one of the states with the best drivers or one of the states with the worst drivers, it's important to have ample auto insurance. This is especially true if you call Utah, California, Virginia, or one of the nation's other "bad-driving" states home. That's because living alongside a lot of bad drivers can impact your insurance rates even if you're a great one.
What can you do to combat this? Shop around and get quotes from a number of car insurance companies. That's how you find the best rates for the coverage you need. (And don't forget--it's also a good idea if you live in one of the "best-driving" states highlighted here, as comparing quotes can help you save a lot of money.)