Who Are the Worst Drivers In the Nation, A State by State Comparison
Which state has the worst drivers in the nation?
While you’re probably sure your state has the worst drivers in the nation (especially when someone pulls an illegal left turn in front of you like you weren’t even there), we decided to crunch the actual numbers. With bad driving comes high motorcycle insurance rates, and we’re all about getting you that information so you can make an informed decision and tailor your riding habits accordingly.
Knowledge is, after all, Power. So here’s the power…
We compiled data from three sources: the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ( for data on driving fatalities), the American Motorists Association (which states hand out the most tickets), and MADD ( for the lowdown on drunk drivers).
Then we translated all of this information into rankings: the higher the ranking, the worse the states were in terms of their driving acumen. The state with the most tickets written to motorists, Florida, got a 50 on the scale. We added up the numbers to give each state an overall score; the higher the score, the worse the drivers.
The numbers surprised us a little.
Here are the top – or bottom – 10, in descending order:
The Ten States With the Worst Drivers
#10) South Carolina
South Carolinians are not careless drivers: according to our data, they’re the third most careful drivers in the Union. Oddly enough, their attention span doesn’t apply to stop signs or turn signals: and they ranked a horrific 45 for obeying road signs. Accordingly, drivers in that state ranked 48th on the fatality rankings.
Alabama residents are pretty careful too: they came in at 7 in the overall rankings, but they came in at 41st in disobeying traffic laws, 46th for total tickets and 42nd in overall fatalities.
Montana residents just don’t get tickets, but they finished dead last (no pun intended) for overall traffic fatalities. It seems they also enjoy a beverage or two before driving and came in second lowest in drunk driving. Add to that a rank of 40th for carelessness, and you have a pretty dangerous little cocktail in front of you on the roads…
Kentuckians are the kings of driving drunk and driving carelessly. Residents of that state drove the overall rankings for their peers down to 42nd and 48th respectively for those factors, and that makes them the seventh worst state for fatalities and places them seventh overall on our list of shame.
Arizona is out of the bottom twenty in only one category – careless driving – and it’s their overall poor driving that puts them at sixth on our list.
Although drivers in Oklahoma (along with those in Florida) notched the best ranking out of the bottom ten for drunk driving at 25th position. The bad news is, that although their sober, they still don’t manage to avoid fatal collisions or pay much attention to traffic signals.
Floridians, like Oklahomans, do manage to avoid driving drunk most of the time, but they more than make up for their sobriety by leading the list for total tickets and overall carelessness when driving.
Texans managed to make the bottom twenty in every single measure we used to compile this test, but it was their penchant for racking up a pile of tickets which got them their spot at number three on our List of Driving Shame.
Drivers in the “Show Me” state get a ton of tickets and came in at 45th on our list in that category, and for all the expensive correction they receive at the hands of traffic cops, it doesn’t seem to make much difference in the way they drive. Missouri ranks solidly in the top ten for carelessness and drunken driving, and though they fall in the middle of pack for obeying traffic laws, Missouri still made number two on our list due to overall negligence.
Where don’t you want to ride? Louisiana.
Bayou State residents will probably kick up a fuss about it, but the numbers don’t lie. Louisiana ranks in the bottom ten in all categories save one, failure to obey traffic laws. The numbers are so bad in every other category that Louisiana managed to outpace the next worst state in the union, Missouri, by a whopping by twelve points.
So are there any hard and fast rules of thumb you can follow when interpreting all this data? Yup…
The Further South You Get, the Worse The Drivers Are
The states with the best safety record tend to be north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Massachusetts had the single lowest fatality rate of any state in the nation according to the most recent motorcycle insurance statistics. Right behind the Bay State was Minnesota, which was nearly as safe for drivers overall.
In all, the southern half of the United States is home to ten worst states for driving skills.
Almost all of the states at the bottom of the list are largely rural in character. What does it all mean? The data does reflect how much people drive in any given state. Small states with a major urban centers, like say Massachusetts or New York, will have a ton of residents, but not as many per capita who own or drive vehicles regularly and that tends to skew the numbers in their favor. It stands to reason that states without much in the way of public transportation will have higher traffic fatality rates by default.
So, does the fact that regional authorities hand out a lot of tickets make any difference? Nope. The states that hand out the most tickets per capita tend to be on the list, so writing them doesn’t seem to be much of a deterring factor when it comes to serial poor driving.
Three of the ten worst states for drunk driving made our top ten List of Driving Shame, and five out of ten were among the worst for careless driving habits. What does it all mean? Careless driving seems to be the key: nine of the bottom twenty in careless driving earned their spots in the bottom ten overall, while seven states are on the list for failure to follow signals and eight made the Hall of Shame for their resident’s insistence on driving drunk.
This may well be the most important point: even drivers who follow traffic signals and drink responsibly – but get distracted by their cell phones – become as much of a highway menace as drivers who attempt to make it home from the bar safe and sound…
State-by-State Rankings Table
|State||Fatalities Per Million Miles||Ticketing Rank||Drunk||Failure to Obey||careless||Total Score||Worst Driver Rank|
Thanks to Jeff Crews and the team at carinsurancecomparison.com for compiling this study.
Bad things can happen to you and your bike, and your insurance needs can get complicated. We’re here to help you find the best motorcycle insurance for your particular state and driving situation…