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If you’ve driven for any length of time, you know how easy it is to be involved in a car accident. One glance at your cell phone, the radio, or your cup of coffee, and before you know it, you’re dangerously close to striking another car.

As licensed drivers, most of us have either been involved in a motor vehicle accident or have come far too close. While car accidents are never ideal, accidents that cause fatalities are a nightmare.

Based on our studies, fatal car accidents — and total traffic-related fatalities — have been on the decline from 2007 to 2014. The total number of traffic-related fatalities has been around 30,000 since 2009.

Statistically speaking, this means there is a 0.5 percent chance that any one person will be involved in a fatal car crash this year.

While the total number of car accidents in the United States is on the rise, the majority of these accidents are non-fatal crashes or crashes that only involve property damage. This means that, as a whole, less people are dying each year as a result of car accidents.

There are many factors that may account for this positive shift, not least among them being the changes in automobile manufacturing.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that “From 1993 through 2006, vehicle changes were the main source of the decline in driver death risk. Had vehicles not improved during that time, the longstanding downward trend of driver fatality rates would have ended in 1993.”

National Statistics

USA TRF - 2016

Click here to view the interactive graphics


In the U.S., there were 29,989 fatal car accidents in 2014.
This averages out to 9.4 fatal car crashes for every 100,000 residents or 14 fatal accidents for every 100,000 licensed drivers.

These statistics suggest that, for every 100 million miles driven, there is one fatal car crash, meaning there is a fatal car accident every 16 minutes.

In 2014, Texas had the most traffic-related fatalities with 3,193 and DC had the least with 21.

The Western Plains and the South are the worst offenders when it comes to traffic-related fatalities; the South being the worst for killing pedestrians and both areas being equally bad for cyclists and motorcyclists alike.

While fatal car accidents have been on the decline in recent years, preliminary reports indicate a possible increase in traffic deaths for 2015.

Methodology

In this study, we examine the ten best and worst states for traffic-related fatalities. We used the following sources to compile information concerning car accident fatalities:

Based on these sources, we arranged information into six different categories:

  • Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven
  • Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers
  • Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers
  • Total Passenger Fatalities by Population
  • Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population
  • Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population

Within each category, each state — and the District of Columbia — was given a total score. The best states received higher scores and the worst states received lower scores.

For example, New Mexico earned only one point in the Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population category, meaning New Mexico was the worst of all the states for this type of fatality. In contrast, Minnesota earned 51 points, proving this state was the best when it came to this type of accident.

For a complete breakdown, along with the specific sources used for each scoring criteria, view the rankings table below.

Ten Best States for Traffic-Related Fatalities

#42 Connecticut

42 - CT - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 45th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 24th

Connecticut drivers can be proud to claim their spot at #42. With only two categories ranked outside the top 40, motorists in Connecticut seem to be well aware of their responsibilities when they’re behind the wheel.

#43 New Hampshire

43 - NH - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 47th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 16th

Coming in at #43, New Hampshire was 37th or higher in every category except Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population. In order to better their ranking for next year, New Hampshire residents need to improve at sharing the road with cyclists.

#44 Wisconsin

44 -WI - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 49th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 27th

Wisconsin was close to the top of the list for Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population. Above average in each category, drivers in Wisconsin clearly take their responsibilities seriously.

#45  New Jersey

45 - NJ - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 49th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 10th

New Jersey secured the #45 spot for Traffic-Related Fatalities with its 49th ranking for Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers. Drivers in New Jersey need to be far more careful when it comes to watching for pedestrians to stay on our list of Ten Best States next year.

#46 Washington

46 - WA - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 46th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 34th

Washington kept all scores except for Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population in the 40s. Drivers in Washington are clearly level-headed and cautious in each category, and it makes for a safer state to drive in.

#47 Minnesota

47 - MN - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 51st

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 33rd

Minnesota takes the top spot when it comes to watching out for pedestrians. Out of a population of nearly 5.5 million, only 15 pedestrians were killed as a result of a car accident in 2014.

#49 District of Columbia

48 - DC - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, & Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 51st

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 23rd

The District of Columbia did extremely well in this study, besting every U.S. state in three separate categories. The only reason the District of Columbia isn’t at the top of our Ten Best States list is their below-average score for Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population.

#49 Rhode Island

49 - RI - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population & Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 50th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 20th

Securing #50 in two separate categories, Rhode island did exceptionally well in almost every category. If drivers in the Ocean State want to improve on their score for next year, they need to respect and drive cautiously near pedestrians.

#50 Massachusetts

50 - MA - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven: 51st

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 35th

Massachusetts did a phenomenal job when it came to traffic-related fatalities, earning the #2 spot on our Ten Best States list. Out of over 575 billion miles driven, 328 people were killed as a result of a car accident. This averages out to a fatality rate of .57 for every 100 million miles driven.

#51 Vermont

51 - VT - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven & Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 50th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Driver & Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 43rd

Coming in at #1, Vermont has a lot to brag about. Tying for 50th in both Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven and Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population, the state boasts conscientious drivers and safe roads. Even at its lowest score, Vermont still did extremely well with a score of 43.

It’s encouraging to see a state that takes the responsibility to drive seriously. Hopefully, the states on our Ten Worst States list will take note to learn how they can improve.

Ten Worst States for Traffic-Related Fatalities

#10 South Dakota (Tied)

10 - SD - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 36th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 7th

Ranking one position better than their neighbor to the north, South Dakota is tied with Florida at #10. No surprising with a population of 853,175 and many snowy months, South Dakota’s best rank is for Pedestrian Fatalities. Alternatively, for a Licensed Driver population of nearly 610,000 this state has a high rate of Drivers who are killed in fatal crashes.

#10 Florida (Tied)

10 - FL - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 35th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population & Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 2nd

Florida tied with South Dakota for #10 on our Ten Worst States list. The state’s score of 2 for both Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population and Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population prove that drivers in Florida have a serious problem sharing the road.

#9 North Dakota

9 - ND - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 31st

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 3rd

North Dakota scored very low when it came to passenger fatalities, with 31 passengers dying as a result of a car accident. With mostly below-average scores when it comes to traffic-related fatalities, drivers in North Dakota have a lot to improve on for next year.

#8 Arkansas

8 - AR - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 31st

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers & Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 8th

Arkansas secures the #8 spot with a score of 8 for both Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers and Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, as 61 people were killed on motorcycles alone.

 #7 Texas

7 - TX - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 23rd

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven & Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 9th

Texas drivers’ below-average score for even their best ranking factor has earned the state the #7 spot on our Ten Worst States list. Hopefully, motorists will improve upon their total score to stay off the list next year.

#6 Montana

6 - MT - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 40th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven: 3rd

Drivers in Montana should celebrate their score for pedestrian fatalities, but the Treasure State scored extremely low for Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven. For every 100 million miles driven, there were 1.58 traffic-related deaths.

#5 Mississippi

5 - MS - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 28th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers & Total Passenger Fatalities by Population: 2nd

Coming in at #5, Mississippi scored extremely low in Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven (4th), Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, and Total Passenger Fatalities by Population. In Mississippi, over one thousand people were killed as a result of car accidents in these three categories alone.

#4 Louisiana

4 - LA - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 17th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven & Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 5th

Scoring below average in every category, Louisiana drivers earned the #4 spot on our Ten Worst States list. Overall, 1,462 people died as result of traffic-related accidents in Louisiana in 2014.

#3 Wyoming

3 - WY - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 42nd

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, Total Motorcyclist Fatalities by Licensed Drivers, Total Passenger Fatalities by Population, & Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 1st

Scoring first in four separate categories, drivers in Wyoming earned the #3 spot. The state’s respect for pedestrians is the only reason Wyoming didn’t earn #1.

#2 South Carolina

2 - SC - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers: 16th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven: 1st

Coming in at #2, South Carolina was in the top 10 for everything except Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers. Motorists in the Palmetto State need an overhaul of their driving strategies to improve on their results.

#1 New Mexico

1 - NM - TRF 16

Best Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers & Total Pedacyclist Fatalities by Population: 13th

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population: 1st

New Mexico takes the top spot on our Ten Worst States list. In 2014, there were 2,223 known traffic-related fatalities in the state. New Mexico drivers have a lot to learn when it comes to safe driving.

The Best Predictor of Traffic-Related Fatalities Rank: Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven

Correlation - TRF 16

Click here to view the interactive graphics

It seems the best predictor for both the best and worst states for traffic-related fatalities was Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven. In the best states, not one scored lower than 40 in the Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven category, and in the worst states, seven states were listed in the top 10.

What causes traffic-related deaths?

While it may seem that these tragic accidents are uncontrollable, there is quite a bit we can do to prevent accidents — especially fatal accidents — in the future. Based on a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31 percent of driving fatalities occurred when one or more people were alcohol-impaired.

Additionally, 28 percent of all driving fatalities were a result of speeding-related crashes and 10 percent occurred due to distracted driving.

From these statistics, it is obvious that our choices behind the wheel directly impact the number of accidents on the road. If we choose to pay attention while driving, avoid distraction, and obey the law, the number of traffic-related fatalities will drastically decrease.

What’s left to study?

Our study focuses on licensed drivers in the U.S. By the exclusive nature of this study, we do not have specific data for licensed motorcycle drivers or unlicensed drivers. Both of these avenues of study are worth exploring, and we hope to focus on this in the future.

Additionally, there is very little data when it comes to the specifics of all automobile crashes for each state. Because overall crash data is usually estimated, we have not included it in our study but we are interested in future studies focusing on crashes by state.

Complete Rankings: Worst States for Traffic-Related Fatalities

– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: tyler@autoinsurance.org



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Here's what you need to know...
  • Find out the trade-in value of your car
  • Consider how much out-of-pocket expense you can afford when buying auto insurance
  • Decide how much coverage you will need to replace or repair your car
  • Compare rates for best deal before making a final decision

When shopping for auto insurance, one of the things you need to know is how much insurance to get. As is the case with any insurance, you need to get enough insurance to cover the value of your car based on how hard it would be to replace.

In other words, insurance is money set aside to cover the damages for loss so that you can get a new one or at least have the damage repaired.

Therefore, it is important to understand what your car is worth at the time you get insurance.

Compare rates to make sure you have the right coverage. Enter your zip code into our FREE price comparison tool to get started!

How to Assess the Value of Your Car

wallet-cash-credit-card-pocket-1600x1600Several places are available to help you assess your car’s value. These are just meant to be used as a point of references when you need to find out how much your car is worth before you search for auto coverage.

Kelly Blue Book is considered one of the foremost authority sites on figuring out the trade-in value of your car as it is today. It is based on factors, such as the age of the car, the mileage, the make, model, and year, as well as the color and other vehicle options.

The information from KBB gives you today’s trade-in value that you would likely get if you tried to trade in your car today.

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A Test Case

We did this as a test case on this site for a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am (Red) with a sliding sunroof with over 100,000 miles and in good condition. The system told us that the trade-in value would be around $1200.

Remember, if you were in an accident in which you totaled your car, it would take that amount of money to replace it.

However, it may be tough to find a car in the same condition as yours, with the same approximate number of miles, and with the same options.

Therefore, you will want coverage for at least twice as much, in case you need to use the money to purchase a similar vehicle that is worth slightly more than yours

Using our case study, if we needed to replace this Grand Am with another one of similar quality, we would need to carry at least $2000 of collision insurance to be on the safe side, in case we could not find one in the same condition as the one that was lost.

Keeping that in mind, you could compare via yours charts with various insurance coverages and see what totals are offered.

In general, the average amount of collision coverage in most auto policies is around $5000. In our scenario on the Grand Am, this amount would be more than enough to cover a total loss.

However, if we had a total loss to a 2016 Honda Civic, this amount who not be near enough since the MSRP of a new one is over $18,000. So again, you have to consider what the value of your individual car is to figure out how much collision insurance you need.

About Comprehensive Plans

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Many auto insurance companies offer comprehensive coverage which not only covers the loss in an auto accident but also applies to theft of property if your car is stolen or damaged by an act of God, such as a tornado, hurricane, or hail.

It is usually highly recommended for new cars.

You will want to inquire with your insurance companies to see if it is offered.

How Insurance Companies Cover Large Collision Amounts

Remember that most accidents will not result in a total loss. Instead, they may require up to $5000 or more to repair. When you are in an accident where damage is done to your car, after you file a claim, an insurance adjuster will come to your house or place of business and assess the damage.

They will take notes on the specific points of damage, as well as whose fault the accident was attributed to, and they may ask for a police report from the local police who covered the accident.

Once they have all of this information, they will leave and call you a few days later with an assessment of what it will cost to repair it. Provided that you have ample collision coverage, the adjuster will also assess damages from two other sources such as local car mechanic garages.

Once you come back with these figures, the adjuster will tell you that you must take the lowest estimate. They usually like to err on the low side.

Your Rights

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Remember as a consumer you have a right to have your car repaired to as near new condition as possible. Mechanics and bodywork professionals should not take shortcuts to save money either for themselves or you.

They should use the money from the insurance company to repair your car to as good of condition as possible and rebuild any body work to the same condition as it was before the accident.

If you notice badly-done paint jobs or half-closed trunks after your accident, you have a right to appeal the adjuster’s decision to a lawyer or insurance settlement board.

Once you know the general value of your car, you can keep these figures in mind when shopping for insurance. Look at the other specs first, such as state liability amounts, bodily injury, and property damage.

These cover your costs to others if you are at fault in an accident. But focus on the collision insurance also, so that you know you are getting enough insurance to cover all damages and replacement if needed.

Figuring Deductible Amounts

The question of deductibles often comes up when searching for insurance as well and it is important. You will want to consider how much out-of-pocket expense that you can afford to pay to get your car fixed if you are in an accident.

For a $500 deductible, you would only pay $500 out of your pocket, and the insurance company would pay the rest. For a $1000 deductible, you would pay $1000, for example.

In the case of our Grand Am, with a $1000 deductible, this person would end up paying all of the replacement costs. With the 2016 Honda Civic, it would be a substantial saving if the damages were significant.

The key to finding the best insurance and deductible amounts is to shop around until you see that you have found one that covers your cost of either repair or replacement in the event of an accident, and which does not require you to pay too much of an out-of-pocket expense for the repairs.

Compare rates from different insurance provider for the best rate! Enter you zip code in our comparison tool below to get started!

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Things to remember...
  • Car insurance is required in order to protect yourself in case you are involved in an accident
  • If your car is totaled, your insurance company, the auto shop may submit their bill directly to the company and have them pay it
  • Most people file a claim with their insurance company to recoup the cost of fixing their car and getting it back on the road

The whole point of having car insurance is to be covered in the case of a car accident. Insurance is meant to get your car back up and running so that you can continue on with your daily routine.

Your insurance provider will most likely want you to use its own designated auto repair shop in your area, so check with them before you ask your local mechanic to start work on the car.

Depending on your insurance company, the auto shop may submit their bill directly to the company and have them pay it. Keep in mind that you’ll pay and then get reimbursement from insurance.

At all steps of the repair and claim process, stay informed. Know what your policy covers and doesn’t cover so that there are no unwelcome surprises down the road.

Don’t wait another moment to protect your car. Enter your zip code in the lookup tool below and get free auto insurance quotes without leaving your chair!

What happens if my car is considered totaled by the insurance company?

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Most people file a claim with their insurance company to recoup the cost of fixing their car and getting it back on the road. If, however, your car is totaled, your insurance company will reimburse you according to what they calculate as fair market value.

This may or may not be enough money to fully replace your car, depending upon factors including:

  • age
  • mileage
  • condition of your vehicle before the accident

What you consider “totaled” and what your insurance company considers “totaled” may not be the same thing. You have an emotional attachment to your car that your insurance provider does not.

Auto insurance companies consider a car “totaled” when the cost of repairing it is more than the cost of replacing it. If this is the case, they will offer you a reimbursement amount based on fair market value as determined by factors such as trade-in value.

It is important to remember that this figure is not necessarily what you paid for the car or the value of it to you.

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How does the insurance company determine the fair market value of my car?

It is an insurance claim adjuster’s job to figure out the value of your car. Once they have concluded that it’s not worth repairing, they’ll determine the amount of your reimbursement check by calculating the fair market value and subtracting your deductible payment from it.

The adjuster will consider authorities such as Kelley’s Blue Book and the NADA guide, and research the price of similar vehicle models up for sale. They might consult dealers or look through recent sales data to get an understanding of average prices in your area.

They also have access to software tools that help them do cost and price analyses based on data provided by dealers, repair shops, parts manufacturers, and other third party providers.

What if I disagree with my insurance adjuster’s valuation of my car?

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You can dispute the valuation that the adjuster assigns to your totaled car and the resulting reimbursement check offered to you by the insurance company.

As with anything, you’ll have to make a good case. Read through your insurance policy to determine your rights and your coverage.

Do the same research that the insurance adjuster does and that you would do if you were shopping for a replacement car.

Nowadays, you can find most, if not all, of the information you’ll need online. Comparison shop on websites such as:

Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. If your 10-year-old car had 95,000 miles on it and a broken door handle, you can’t reasonably compare it to the one-year-old model with 8,000 miles logged and no cosmetic damage.

Use these sites, as well as the Auto Classifieds section of your local newspaper to see what the retail value of cars similar to yours is in your geographic location. Keep records of your research to use as proof-print out applicable Web data and clip newspaper ads.

As long as you’re realistic and reasonable when you confront your insurance company and have data to back up your claims, you have a good chance at getting your car’s value reappraised.

Whether you purchase a new or used car to replace your totaled one, don’t forget the insurance coverage! Comparison shop different insurance providers by entering your zip code in the box on this page and getting free online auto insurance quotes now.

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