Worst States for Traffic-Related Fatalities – 2016

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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

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 Pedalcyclist 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

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedalcyclist 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

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

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

Coming in at #43, New Hampshire was 37th or higher in every category except Total Pedalcyclist 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

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

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

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

#45  New Jersey

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

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

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

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

Best Ranking Factor: Total Passenger Fatalities by Population & Total Pedalcyclist 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

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

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedalcyclist 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

Best Ranking Factor: Total Fatalities by 100 Million Miles Driven & Total Pedalcyclist 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 Pedalcyclist 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)

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)

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

Worst Ranking Factor: Total Pedestrian Fatalities by Population & Total Pedalcyclist 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 Pedalcyclist Fatalities by Population prove that drivers in Florida have a serious problem sharing the road.

#9 North Dakota

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

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

Best Ranking Factor: Total Pedalcyclist 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

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

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

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, 737 people died as result of traffic-related accidents in Louisiana in 2014.

#3 Wyoming

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 Pedalcyclist 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

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

Best Ranking Factor: Total Driver Fatalities by Licensed Drivers & Total Pedalcyclist 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

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: [email protected]



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