Safest Highways by State [2016]

Iowa ranks second for having the safest highways by state with the best score in America for the number of highway traffic deaths per mile of highway. Louisiana ranks worst overall of any state in America with a fifth-worst score in highway traffic deaths per mile of highway. The region of the country that fares the best for safe highways is the Midwest.

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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
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UPDATED: Jul 17, 2021

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Interactive graph with all state rankings based on safest highways:

In the midst of the end of the year holidays, it’s fun to get swept up in the lights, the gifts, and the excitement of seeing loved ones to celebrate such a special season.

For many, what makes Christmas and New Year’s a magical time of year is spending it with friends and family. People often resolve to take to the roads and drive long distances to see family. In this article, we highlight one of those challenges by looking at the safest highways by state.

Driving during one of the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year creates a unique set of challenges (the holidays)

During Christmas and New Year’s, it’s over 50 percent more likely that families and individuals will go on a road trip lasting longer than 50 miles according to Forbes.

The possibility of facing a long road trip means that many people on the roads during this holiday season are traveling through multiple states as quickly as they can.

Because of this, it is important to know more about the states we travel through in order to better understand how safe the roadways are and how likely it is to have a car accident.

Read through this article to see if any of the states you plan to drive in this holiday season make our list of the safest highways by state. Then, enter your ZIP code into our FREE tool above to find auto insurance rates that work for you.

You can also check out our page titled “Which states have the cheapest auto insurance rates?” to find out what the average rates are in your state and whether you’re overpaying or underpaying based on the coverages you have and your situation.

This article will also cover the following topics:

  • State road condition rankings
  • Which state has the best highway system
  • States with the worst roads
  • Which states have the best freeways
  • The most dangerous place to drive in the world

Now, let’s get to those 10 states with the safest highways. Some of the states and the categories they do the best in may surprise you.

Top 10 States for the Safest Highways

Let’s get to your top 10 states for the safest highways. They are in different regions throughout the United States except for the South. Each state has a best and worst ranking: the category that the state did the best in versus the category that the state did worst in.

We’ll start with the 10th best state for safest highways on this list: Maine.

#10 – Maine

Best Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate: 1
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 40

Coming in at #10 on our list, Maine boasts the safest highways with regard to Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate.

Drivers in Maine obey the posted speed limits on interstates and highways, and this has helped many stay safe on the roads.

#9 – Nevada

Best Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 10
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 33

While a score of 10 for the Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts is nothing to brush over, drivers in Nevada need to stay alert while traveling long distances in order to avoid having tragic accidents.

#8 – North Dakota

Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 1
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates: 48

North Dakota boasts a top score with regard to Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient.

But they also sit in 48th place for Death Rates as determined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Needless to say, North Dakota has a long way to go before it can be considered the state with the safest highways in America.

#7 – Delaware

Best Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 1
Worst Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate: 51

Coming in at #7, Delaware seems to be its own special paradox.

Boasting a simultaneous first-place in Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled and last-place in Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate, it seems as though driving in Delaware can be both safe and treacherous depending on which statistics matter to you the most.

With an above-average score for IIHS Death Rates (28), the state certainly still has some work to do to become a safer place to drive.

#6 – Wisconsin

Best Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 2
Worst Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 40

Our #6 spot goes to the Dairy State.

Wisconsin scored below-average in IIHS Death Rates (22) and Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (16), and that is certainly something to celebrate.

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#4 – Nebraska

Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 3
Worst Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 36

Nebraska ties with Alaska for the #4 spot on our Best Highways by State list.

While Nebraska maintains reasonably safe highways, because nearly 20 percent of drivers in Nebraska choose to drive without wearing their seatbelts, the state sees many unnecessary fatal accidents each year.

#4 – Alaska

Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 1
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 51

With a top score for Federal Funding, Alaska ties with Nebraska for #4.

With below-average scores for Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (2), Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts (21), Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (22), and IIHS Death Rates (16), Alaska seems to be a relatively safe place to drive.

But with the worst possible score for Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled, Alaskan drivers prove that they still have a lot to work on.

#3 – Oregon

Best Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 1
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 41

Coming in at #3, drivers in Oregon are happy to obey the law and wear their seatbelts.

Scoring consistently under 20 for Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (14), Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled (7), and IIHS Death Rates (15), Oregon seems like a very safe place to drive.

#2 – Iowa

Best Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate: 3
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates: 27

The #2 spot on our Best Highways by State goes to the Corn State. Drivers in Iowa should be proud of themselves.

They stayed below-average in every category except IIHS Death Rates, and while this category and its implications are important, Iowa drivers certainly drive with safety and precaution in mind.

Iowa scores another big win in our study about the best drivers in the U.S. by state. It is ranked seventh overall, with a subcategory ranking of second overall for careless driving.

#1 – Minnesota

Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 2
Worst Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 34

Minnesota tops our list at #1 for the Best Highways by State.

Scoring under 15 for Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (9), Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts (13), Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled (4), and IIHS Death Rates (7), it’s evident that Minnesota boasts the safest highways in the U.S.

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Protecting Yourself: Defensive Driving Tips

One way we can work to protect our roadways is to drive defensively. Because human error is responsible for 94 percent of all car crashes, we need to take our role as motorists seriously (NHTSA).

Defensive driving helps us drive with purpose, avoid distracted driving, and commit to obeying common driving laws, specifically with reference to drinking or texting and driving.

Start driving defensively today by focusing on the following tips:

  • Look ahead
  • Maintain a safe distance
  • Go with the flow
  • Make yourself visible
  • Reduce driving distractions

If we can all commit to driving defensively, we can make our highways safer in each and every state. Driving defensively also has major impacts on auto insurance rates, as insurance companies can reward drivers who drive defensively, file fewer claims, and even offer discounts for drivers who take defensive driving classes.

Check out our article about the best auto insurance companies for 2021 for more information about which insurance company might be best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions: Deadliest and Most Traveled Interstates

Now that we’ve covered the states with the safest highways in America, let’s get to your frequently asked questions, which cover everything from the most dangerous interstate in America to which state has the most aggressive drivers.

#1 – What is the most dangerous interstate in America?

Interstate 4 has been considered the most dangerous interstate in America due to the number of traffic deaths on that interstate per mile. Some of the reasons for the high number of traffic deaths include it having a high traffic volume, a large number of tractor-trailers, and frequent construction sites.

#2 – What is the safest driving state?

In our study of the safest highways per state, Minnesota is ranked No. 1, scoring second-best in the number of obsolete or deficient bridges.

Minnesota also ranked first in our most recent best drivers ranking, with scores in the top six of all states for the subcategories, including being the safest state for careless driving with the lowest rate of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. These great stats can make it easier for drivers to find cheap auto insurance for their vehicles.

#3 – What is the most traveled interstate in America?

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the most traveled interstate in America is I-405 in Los Angeles. It services an estimated 379,000 vehicles per day. California, Texas, and Florida are the states with the most traveled interstates with California seeing 84.7 billion interstate travelers according to FHWA data.

#4 – What is the deadliest road in the world?

While the North Yungas Road in Bolivia (also termed the “Road of Death”) is considered to be the deadliest road in the world, all those considered on these types of lists have similar characteristics: high drop-offs, uneven and unpaved roads, weather conditions that obstruct visibility, and drivers that often try risk maneuvers.

#5 – Why is Interstate 4 so dangerous?

Interstate 4 is considered so dangerous because it combines a number of difficult challenges that contribute to an intimidating driving environment. These include the high traffic volume, number of commercial vehicles, construction sites, and more.

#6 – What state has the most aggressive drivers?

While it can be tough to gauge which states have the most aggressive drivers, there are certain states that turn up frequently on worst drivers lists. Those include South Carolina, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and others. Drivers in these states have major problems often with speeding or drunk driving, and almost always with the number of traffic deaths per 100 million miles driven.

Methodology: Determining the States with the Safest Highways

To compile information for this study, we used data collected in the following categories:

  • Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate
  • Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts
  • Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient
  • Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled
  • Federal Funding
  • IIHS Death Rates

The information we collected came from the following sources:

Our rankings for each category go from one to 51, including the District of Columbia, with the lowest score representing the state with the safest highways and the highest score representing the state with the most dangerous highways in each respective category.

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Complete Rankings: Safest Highways by State

Here are the complete rankings for every state and D.C. in regards to our study about the safest highways by state. It is ranked in alphabetical order with the state’s overall ranking on the far right column.

Safest Highways by States [2016]
STATEINTERSTATE SPEEDING FATALITIES PER MILE OF INTERSTATEPERCENT OF DRIVERS W/O SEATBELTSHIGHWAY BRIDGES RATED OBSOLETE OR DEFICIENTHIGHWAY DEATHS PER 1,000 HIGHWAY MILES TRAVELEDFEDERAL FUNDINGIIHS DEATH RATESTOTAL SCORESAFEST HIGHWAYS RANK
Alabama24123237204617133
Alaska22122511161134
Arizona4733845423220750
Arkansas7481642134517133
California4923913481016127
Colorado30342826411717638
Connecticut4124422922816628
Delaware511119110281207
District of Columbia431851287114820
Florida3623932493418342
Georgia267534313113413
Hawaii5044711341115724
Idaho15423537113017032
Illinois376261744913916
Indiana22152424222913615
Iowa397211727842
Kansas13371230283715724
Kentucky17352931214117436
Louisiana35413747193921851
Maine132403242612610
Maryland4682010471214317
Massachusetts284950950218845
Michigan3353715462015623
Minnesota91324347691
Mississippi12451840155018039
Missouri27442125163516830
Montana846264944918240
Nebraska53632618251134
Nevada2010153326211259
New Hampshire40513414321418543
New Jersey451644737515421
New Mexico2117448114214317
New York191948551314519
North Carolina38203319433618946
North Dakota10431183481238
Ohio29313516391816830
Oklahoma32291736144717537
Oregon14141730151083
Pennsylvania42304623332319748
Rhode Island233849129413514
South Carolina44223040254420549
South Dakota450104464015421
Tennessee18281335273815926
Texas48141139373318240
Utah31261343401316628
Vermont627432252412711
Virginia34392320361917133
Washington25345645613012
West Virginia3925314684319247
Wisconsin16405229221146
Wyoming1147255025118644
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Read more about our safest highways by state map‘s full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: [email protected]

Of course, how dangerous the highways are in a state does more than put your life at risk. It can have a serious impact on your auto insurance rates as states with more traffic deaths, or people that are filing claims due to accidents, often have higher average auto insurance rates.

To find out the best auto insurance for you based on your location and demographic information, just insert your ZIP code into our online quote comparison tool below.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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