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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Stagg

Which U.S. State has the Worst Drivers?

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Paper fold-up map of the United States on wood table
Photo by Domino on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered which state in the U.S. has the worst drivers? Forbes Advisor has, and so they decided to conduct a study and get a definitive answer.

The impulse to look into which states have especially poor drivers comes from a reasonable place - across the United States, poor driving is trending upward, not downwards. This in itself is surprising, considering that cars have become much safer over the years. It's also surprising because the uptick in fatalities has increased even over years where the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height and less vehicles were on the road.

Fatal car accidents are on the rise nationwide. In 2021, more than 39,500 fatal car crashes occurred on U.S. roads, a 10% increase from 2020.

Forbes Advisor used six metrics to determine which state has the worst drivers, including the number of drunk drivers, the number of fatal car accidents involving distracted driving, and the number of drivers who looked at their phone per mile. Each of the six categories covered an error or behaviour where the driver was explicitly responsible, meaning they didn't look at fatalities that were caused by things out of a driver's control, like poor weather.

Based on their findings, Forbes came up with a top 10 list for both worst and best drivers. Grouped together, some interesting patterns emerged. For example, out of 10 states with the worst drivers, 5 were southern states. While it was outside the scope of the study, it would be interesting to dig deeper into why some regions of the country figured more prominently in one list or another. While southern studies took half the spots on the list of worst drivers, a total of seven spots for best drivers were claimed by states on the east coast.

Alright you might be saying, who actually made the list? Let's cut to it, shall we? Which state has the worst drivers?

Coming in strong at number 1 for worst drivers in the United States was the Lone Star state, Texas. Out of a possible score of 100, Texas unfortunately got a perfect score, with high marks for fatal car accidents involving drowsy drivers and drivers driving on the wrong side of the road.

Texas had a good lead on the other states on the list, which were, in order: Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, and South Carolina. Kansas, who scored third on the list of worst drivers, scored particularly high when it came to fatal car accidents involving distracted driving.

Reading the list is a bit disconcerting, so let's end on a positive note. There were a number of states who scored decently and made the list of top 10 states for best drivers in the country.

According to the study, the very best drivers in the United States can be found in Washington, D.C., though technically not a state. Maybe something about living in the same city as the President has rubbed off on its citizens.

Other states that made the list of best drivers? Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. Again, while the study doesn't dig into the reasons why individual states scored better than others, it would make for an interesting future study. Some states on this list of best drivers was surprising, like New York, which has one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world and where congestion is the norm.

So what's the take away? If you're planning a road trip in the United States any time soon, you might want to take a drive down the Eastern Seaboard. But more seriously, there are bad drivers everywhere, and the best way to protect yourself is by ensuring that YOU are a good driver and that you are conscientious and respectful of road rules and other road users wherever you find yourself.

To see the breakdown in full, check out the full article in Forbes by Penny Gusner.


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