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Most of us can remember a time when we’ve encountered a bad driver. It seems, more often than not, that individuals behind the wheel are constantly making mistakes. Whatever the scenario, it is fairly easy to spot a bad driver.
Many argue about who are the worst drivers in the U.S. Statistics do prove that some states tend to host worse drivers than others.
But instead of focusing on the negative, we wanted to celebrate the best drivers in the country!
If you live in one of the states mentioned below, congratulations! It’s a great feeling to know you live in a place where drivers are concerned enough with safety and accident prevention to drive responsibly.
Regardless of where you live, pay attention to the following statistics to discover and emulate the qualities of a responsible driver. Enter your ZIP code to save on auto insurance now!
The research used in this article was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and focuses on fatal crashes in the U.S.
The NHTSA has been collecting and publishing information on this topic since 1975, and thanks to thoughtful and skilled drivers across the country, traffic fatalities have decreased 67 percent since this research was first conducted!
Each state is ranked according to the following categories:
- Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
- Failure to Obey (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that involved Traffic Signals, Not Wearing Seat Belts, and Driving with an Invalid Driver’s License)
- Drunk Driving (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that Involved Alcohol)
- Speeding (Percentage of Driving Fatalities that were Speed-Related)
- Careless Driving (Pedestrian & Bicyclist Fatalities per 100,000 Population)
We have compiled the research into one Total Score used to determine the driving abilities typically found in each state. For our purposes, the best states have the highest scores.
A state that ranks 47th in Speeding, for example, has far less of a problem with drivers breaking the speed limit than the state that ranks 12th in the same category.
Thus, the higher the score, the better the drivers.
For a complete look at the statistics for all 50 states, see the full chart at the bottom of this page.
Ten States with the Best Drivers
#10 – Michigan (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 47th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 18th
With a total score of 165, Michigan tied with Massachusetts for the 10th spot on our list. Ranking higher-than-average in every category except Careless Driving, drivers in Michigan are both conscientious and self-aware.
Residents will need to pay more attention behind the wheel, however, if they want to move up the list next year.
#10 – Massachusetts (tie)
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled: 50th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 2nd
Massachusetts has the second-best rating for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled, narrowly missing the bar set by the District of Columbia.
Though this is an exceptional spot, the state’s disregard for laws concerning drinking and driving is atrocious.
Of the 326 total fatalities on the road in 2013, 132 were caused by drunk driving. This is an alarmingly high percentage and should cause drivers in Massachusetts to say no to driving under the influence.
# 9 – Utah
Best Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 51st
Worst Ranking Factor: Speeding: 18th
Utah boasts the best possible ranking for Drunk Driving, causing a lower percentage of fatal accidents due to driving under the influence than any other state in the U.S.
Utah also ranked 46th for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled.
Though speeding is certainly an issue for many drivers in the state, Utah residents can celebrate their spot on the list of the Best Drivers.
#8 – Washington
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled: 47th
Worst Ranking Factor: Speeding: 8th
Overall, Washington state has encouraging statistics for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled, Failure to Obey, and Careless Driving, ranking 47th, 46th, and 44th, respectively.
The state’s extremely low rating for Speeding is frightening, however, as nearly 42% of all traffic fatalities were caused by people driving over the speed limit.
#7 – New Jersey
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled: 48th
Worst Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 21st
While New Jersey’s middle-of-the-road ranking for Careless Driving can certainly be improved upon, the state did extremely well with Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled, Failure to Obey (44th), and Speeding (42nd).
#6 – Virginia
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 50th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 7th
Virginia’s ranking for Failure to Obey is proof that many drivers in the state take traffic laws very seriously.
Yet driving under the influence remains a very serious problem. Of the 740 total fatalities on the road in Virginia in 2013, 302 were due to Drunk Driving.
Residents in Virginia need to seriously consider this statistic before getting behind the wheel.
#5 – Nebraska
Best Ranking Factor: Careless Driving: 50th
Worst Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled: 21st
Nebraska beat every state except for North Dakota when it came to avoiding Careless Driving! The state’s ratings for Drunk Driving and Speeding (41st and 45th, respectively) are also encouraging.
Nebraska did receive average ratings for Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled and Failure to Obey (29th), which is something drivers can strive to improve upon.
#4 – Iowa
Best Ranking Factor: Speeding: 49th
Worst Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 28th
Iowa drivers do a great job of sticking to the speed limit. Of the state’s 317 fatalities in 2013, 51 were caused by speeding.
Though this number is still high, compared to other states in the U.S., Iowa’s percentage of fatalities due to speeding is quite low.
#3 – Vermont
Best Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 49th
Worst Ranking Factor: Drunk Driving: 26th
Vermont achieved high rankings in both the Failure to Obey and Careless Driving (46th) categories.
Though Drunk Driving is definitely an issue in the state, residents can celebrate above-average ratings in every other category.
#2 – Ohio
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Miles Traveled & Careless Driving: 43rd
Worst Ranking Factor: Speeding: 32nd
While Ohio did not achieve the best rating in any one category, drivers in the state are consistently above-average.
Along with the statistics mentioned above, Ohio was ranked 40th in Failure to Obey and 38th in Drunk Driving.
#1 – Minnesota
Best Ranking Factor: Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled: 49th
Worst Ranking Factor: Failure to Obey: 38th
Minnesota drivers may be surprised that their state boasts the best drivers in the country!
Those who commute in Minneapolis or Saint Paul have certainly seen their fair share of road rage. Yet somehow the state excelled in virtually every category.
Commonalities among States with the Best Drivers
The states with the best drivers scored consistently high in both the Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled and Careless Driving categories.
Clearly, the choices we make while driving directly impact how safe we are on the road.
According to the NHTSA, “Traffic fatalities decreased by 3 percent from 2012 to 2013 for the United States as a whole.”
This is great news! And we could see traffic accidents and fatalities continue to decrease as drivers make an effort to stay focused and alert while behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving and Cell Phones
One of the most common reasons for fatalities on the road is distracted driving, and cell phones are a huge component of this.
The NHTSA reports that “At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.”
If we want the number of fatalities on the road to decrease, we have to stop using our cell phones behind the wheel.
Many states already have laws in place concerning cell phone usage while driving.
But even if your state has yet to ban texting or talking on the phone behind the wheel, you can choose to avoid your phone whenever you drive.
What Does This Mean for Me?
For many of us, driving is a part of our everyday routine. It’s how we get to work, take our children to school, and visit with friends and family members.
Since we invest so much time and money into our automobiles, we should work to make the roads as safe as possible.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you live; fatal accidents happen everywhere. And the best motivation we have to drive safely, avoid distractions, and obey traffic laws is that very fact.
– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.
|State||Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled||Failure to Obey (Traffic Signals, Seat Belts, & Invalid Driver License)||Drunk Driving||Speeding||Careless Driving||Total Score||Rank|
|District of Columbia||51||27||44||4||22||148||15|