Best Drivers in the U.S. by State [2015 Study]

Minnesota ranks first overall for the best drivers in the U.S. with great scores in all of our subcategories, including a third-place finish in fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Montana ranked the worst, scoring in the bottom 40 percent of all states for all subcategories. The best states have one thing in common: Fewer people die in motor vehicle crashes.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Massachusetts is the second-worst state for drunk driving, though the 10th best state overall
  • Iowa is the third-best state for speeding, with only 51 fatal crashes involving speeding in 2013
  • Vermont is the third-best state for failure to obey, which measures fatal crashes related to ignoring traffic lights and signs

Click here to view the interactive graphs for our 2015 ranking of the best drivers in the U.S. by state.

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. But we wanted this article to be different.

We wanted to celebrate the best drivers in the U.S.! To determine that, we created a ranking to find which state has the safest drivers.

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.

This can lower your auto insurance rates as well because areas with safer drivers and fewer accidents decrease your likelihood of filing a claim, which, at the end of the day, is the most important factor that affects auto insurance rates.

However, 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!

In this guide, we’ll touch on all of the following and much more:

  • Where do the best drivers live
  • The best states to drive in
  • The best auto drivers by state in 2015

If you’re interested in newer results, check out our ranking of the best drivers by state in 2020 and the best drivers by state in 2019.

With knowing the best drivers per state comes knowing the worst drivers per state as well. Because of that, we know the worst drivers by state in 2019 for instance or for 2015, as with this ranking.

Those would be the worst states to drive through and may indicate which states has the worst drivers by city. Now, let’s get to the best drivers ranking in 2015.

Methodology

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.

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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).

# 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.

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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.

We encourage you to take some time and consider what you can do to be a better driver and make our roads even safer. Enter your zip code to save on auto insurance today!

– 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: [email protected]

STATEFATALITIES RATE PER 100 MILLION VEHICLE MILES TRAVELEDFAILURE TO OBEY (TRAFFIC SIGNALS, SEAT BELTS, & INVALID DRIVER LICENSE)DRUNK DRIVINGSPEEDINGCARELESS DRIVINGTOTAL SCORERANK
Alabama151418292610240
Alaska26444654216312
Arizona107471738446
Arkansas8831501911631
California40153323912029
Colorado29221263311134
Connecticut42114413713522
Delaware2425281429343
District of Columbia51274442214815
Florida16294151113820
Georgia232050481015114
Hawaii303345178944
Idaho141022404012625
Illinois3537973212029
Indiana312037312414319
Iowa31283549471904
Kansas202536253814418
Kentucky13449442713721
Louisiana61163376347
Maine283512163512625
Maryland455110241414418
Massachusetts50432343616510
Michigan314734351816510
Minnesota49384743482251
Mississippi3132246139742
Missouri21232692910835
Montana18132064851
Nebraska21294145501865
Nevada2432201949941
New Hampshire26401813111631
New Jersey48442542211807
New Mexico1716101256049
New York383915281513522
North Carolina182944221212527
North Dakota620111518944
Ohio43403832431962
Oklahoma9340381610638
Oregon364717272815513
Pennsylvania19342233010835
Rhode Island4458362011333
South Carolina43631076049
South Dakota5628303810737
Tennessee101239392512527
Texas1218615116248
Utah46235118331719
Vermont34492637461923
Virginia3850747411836
Washington4746318441768
West Virginia24028132310638
Wisconsin401613214513522
Wyoming36184124914616
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