Best Drivers in the US by State (Updated 2018)

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Things to remember...
  • Scary fact: 37,461 people were killed on U.S. roads in car crashes in 2016
  • The U.S. traffic accident death count is the highest it’s been in nearly a decade
  • This in-depth study involves 50 states plus D.C. each ranked by five categories
  • Discover where our nations’ best drivers live and what they are doing right
  • Learn how you can save lives by minimizing fatal crashes in your home state

For the second year in a row, fatal car crashes spiked in our nation, causing the total death count to be the highest it has been in nine years.

US Deptarment of Transportation via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reported there were 37,461 traffic deaths in the U.S. alone in 2016.

Methodology

Our extensive research includes 50 states plus DC. Using NHTSA data from their most recent reports, we collected 1,632 data points to rank all 51 areas of the U.S. in five categories :

  • Fatality Rate – The rate of traffic deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
  • Failure to Obey – The percentage of road fatalities involving not wearing seat belts, ignoring traffic safety devices, and driving with an invalid license.
  • Drunk Driving – The percentage of fatal crashes involving a driver impaired by alcohol.
  • Speeding – The percentage of driving deaths involving a driver who was speeding.
  • Careless Driving – The rate that pedestrians and pedalcyclists are killed by motorists for every 100 thousand residents.

The rankings for each category were totaled for 51 final scores. The ten lowest scores belonged to the ten states with the best drivers in our nation.

Where the BEST Drivers in America Live

This topic couldn’t be more important with how much time the average American spends on the roads — over 293 hours annually!

“It’s clear that traveling by car remains a central part of American’s lives.” – Jurek Grabowski, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Director

That’s why our researchers completed an in-depth study to find out where the best drivers in our country live.

Read on to see if your state made the cut this year!

#10 – Michigan

Best Ranking: Failure to Obey – 2nd
Worst Ranking: Careless Driving – 36th

Being home to the car capital of the world, it’s great that Michigan sets a good example of obeying traffic laws for the rest of the U.S.

The indisputable problem is the 199 people killed while biking or walking on The Great Lake State’s public roads.

Michigan drivers are some of the best around at paying attention to traffic signals and obeying the laws, now they just need to learn to safely share the road.

#9 – West Virginia

Best Ranking: Drunk Driving – 9th
Worst Ranking: Fatality Rate – 39th

It seems its strict implied consent law, and weekly sobriety checkpoints are doing some good since West Virginia ranks in the top ten for the least deadly car crashes with alcohol to blame.

Sadly, the lower drunk driving rate isn’t enough.

The rate people are dying in traffic accidents in West Virginia is not only higher than that of the surrounding states, but it is a higher rate than the national average.

With nearly 75 percent of the state being covered in forest and winding roads, The Mountain State has some challenges ahead as they work to lower their traffic accident fatality rate.

#8 – Utah

Best Ranking: Drunk Driving – 1st
Worst Ranking (Tie): Failure to Obey & Careless Driving – 28th

Considering Utah has the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation, it is no surprise that this state has the least fatal crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.

The maximum blood alcohol limit in Utah was lowered to .05 percent, which is a significant drop from the BAC .08, that’s legal in the rest of America.

It’s good that The Beehive State has cracked down on drunk driving, because the drivers here already struggle with paying attention to the roads and obeying traffic laws — their two worst rankings.

#7 – Massachusetts

Best Ranking: Fatality Rate – 1st
Worst Ranking: Drunk Driving – 41st

The Bay State has the lowest rate of traffic deaths in all of America. This is a huge accomplishment especially considering it’s home to one of the most congested cities in the nation.

Boston commuters spend an extra 154 million hours on the road each year thanks to traffic.

In addition to less traffic, this New England state could also benefit from less alcohol. In 2015 alone, 118 of the 306 total Massachusetts car crash deaths (39 percent) were alcohol related.

#6 – Vermont

Best Ranking: Drunk Driving – 4th
Worst Ranking: Speeding – 40th

Interestingly, Massachusetts’ greatest weakness is Vermont’s greatest strength — drunk driving. Now if Vermont drivers could only lighten their lead foot.

In 2015, 37 percent of the car crash fatalities in Vermont were a result of speeding.

It must be contagious because even a Rabbi was caught for speeding when in The Green Mountain State.

As you can see in this controversial video above, Vermont police take speeding (and eluding police) seriously.

#4 (Tie) – New Jersey

Best Ranking: Failure to Obey – 3rd
Worst Ranking: Careless Driving – 39th

What put The Garden State on this list was its drivers’ diligence to follow the traffic laws.

Sadly though, New Jersey has an overwhelmingly high pedestrian/pedalcyclist death rate. It’s a major safety concern when 188 pedestrians and pedalcyclists are killed in just one year in the fourth smallest state in the country.

New Jersey is the only Northeast or Mid-Atlantic state that doesn’t have any laws in place to protect cyclists.

Here are some safety tips from a man who commutes by bike every day all year from his New Jersey home in Red Bank to his job over three miles away in Eatontown:

These tips could save a life — drivers and cyclists should both pay attention. Finally, find your representative and urge them to consider laws to protect cyclists.

#4 (Tie) – Ohio

Best Ranking: Speeding – 8th
Worst Ranking: Fatality Rate – 19th

It’s impressive that The Buckeye State managed to land in the top 20 of the U.S. for all five categories we used in this ranking.

Although the state home to America’s first traffic light should have a better ranking than 18th for obeying such signals!

Every 7.9 hours someone was killed, and every 4.8 minutes someone was injured in an Ohio car crash in 2015.

Regardless of the exact cause, far too many Ohio drivers are dying. 1,110 people were killed on Ohio public roads in 2015, which was over 100 more lives this state lost each of the two previous years.

#3 – Virginia

Best Ranking: Speeding – 2nd
Worst Ranking: Drunk Driving – 32nd

With only 14 percent of all the traffic fatalities in this state being caused by speeding, Virginia is ranked the second best in the U.S. for driving at safe speeds.

The Old Dominion’s exceptionally high ranking for speeding, allowed it to make it in the top five despite its high rate of deaths caused by drunk drivers.

In 2015, 34 percent of those who died in car crashes on Virginia roads had a drunk driver to blame.

254 lives were cut short on Virginia roadways in that one year due to someone who thought it was okay to drink and drive.

#2 Minnesota

Best Ranking: Fatality Rate – 4th
Worst Ranking: Drunk Driving – 36th

Like Virginia and Massachusetts, Minnesota’s driving flaw that’s causing the most traffic deaths is drunk driving.

There is no excuse to get behind the wheel impaired when there are always other options to catch a ride home. Minnesotans are well aware of this considering the first bus line, Greyhound, was born in this state.

411 people were killed in Minnesota car crashes in 2015, and 144 of those unavoidable, devastating deaths had a driver impaired by alcohol to blame.

As you can see in this video, DUIs are much more complicated and punitive than many realize, especially in Minnesota:

The North Star State ranks top five for having one of the lowest fatality rates in America, but in just one year, it had a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths.

Hopefully driving habits improve so Minnesota can find itself on this prized list again next year.

#1 – Iowa

Best Ranking: Failure to Obey – 3rd
Worst Ranking: Fatality Rate – 18th

The state ranked fourth on this list last year, made a big jump to earn first for the Best Drivers in America!

But, even the state at the top of this list has great room for improvements with 320 people killed in car crashes in 2015 alone.

Fortunately not only are Iowa drivers excellent at obeying traffic laws, but The Hawkeye State now has stricter laws in place to minimize distracted drivers.

Here’s some info on Iowa’s new texting while driving law:

Iowa has now made texting while driving a primary offense which means you can be pulled over for this activity and receive a citation of $100.50 at the officer’s discretion. Don’t text and drive!

Strengths and Weaknesses

Among the ten states on this list, these tied for being the most common worst ranking factors:

  • Careless Driving – Michigan, New Jersey, and Utah
  • Drunk Driving – Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Virginia
  • Fatality Rate – Iowa, Ohio, and West Virginia

And these tied for being the most common Best Ranking factors:

  • Drunk Driving – Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia
  • Failure to Obey – Iowa, Michigan, and New Jersey

Terrifying Totals

To help you understand why our nation so desperately needs more good drivers like the ones on this annual list, here are some of the shocking U.S. death totals for 2015:

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”John F. Kennedy

Only one fatal car crash can result in multiple deaths, just like only one person practicing safe driving can result in multiple lives saved.

How YOU can be the BEST

Regardless of where you live, you must realize that the five factors we used in this ranking all are very likely to cause traffic accidents resulting in sudden, devastating deaths.

Navigate through the below links for advice on how to safeguard yourself and others on the road:

– Following Traffic Laws

– Avoiding Drunk Driving

– Driving the Speed Limit

– Sharing the Road

Don’t make a mistake you will spend the rest of your life wishing you could take back.

Complete Rankings: Best Drivers By State

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

– Click here for complete data and sources. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes

StateFatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles TraveledFailure to Obey (Traffic Safety Device, Seat Belt, & Invalid Driver License)Careless DrivingDrunk DrivingSpeedingTotal ScoreRanking
Iowa1838105441
Minnesota41163611682
Virginia111311322693
New Jersey5339815704
Ohio191813128704
Vermont6622440786
Massachusetts17124119807
Utah142828112838
West Virginia391710918939
Michigan1923616239610
Maryland1012941179811
Georgia271840599912
Nebraska29211334410113
Washington151320282510113
South Dakota44282121610215
Kansas2532723910516
New Hampshire884405111117
District of Columbia3838353011418
New York91530293111418
Indiana21402532711620
Connecticut72418442411721
Idaho37391311312122
Pennsylvania261516155012223
Tennessee323630161012424
Alaska36825243512825
Arkansas47302422612926
Florida43275012113327
Illinois151819394213327
Oregon31534452013529
Wyoming45225303313529
Kentucky4848276713631
Wisconsin114415382813631
Missouri27373273814133
Hawaii111233454714834
California153543272914935
Oklahoma394335112114935
Colorado224617214415037
Rhode Island2483514915338
Mississippi49424418315639
Maine232221494315840
Alabama343842192615941
North Dakota38339503416442
North Carolina303037244516643
Delaware354051192216744
New Mexico242549244817045
South Carolina512547234118746
Nevada324645333619247
Texas413441473219548
Louisiana455048411419849
Arizona424546363720650
Montana505123484621851


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