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Best and worst drivers by state

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Insurance rates are largely based on driving behavior — not just yours, but others around you on the road. Bad drivers can be found all around the country, but data shows that some states have worse drivers than others by statistical measure. 

Understanding which states have the worst drivers is important. If you live in a state that has a high rate of accidents and fatal crashes, your rates may reflect that. However, you can mitigate this with discounts for safe driving, or by selecting providers who offer competitive rates in your state. In this article, Coverage highlights the states with the best and worst drivers based on the rate of fatal car accidents.

Driving fatalities by state

In 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), there were 33,654 fatal car accidents in the United States, which led to 36,560 total deaths. These crashes happened all over the country, but were more concentrated in states with poor drivers. The table below represents the number of fatal crashes that occurred in 2018 and the total number of deaths due to fatal accidents that year, based on data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). 

StatePopulationFatal crashesDeaths
Alabama4,887,871876953
Alaska737,4386980
Arizona7,171,6469161,010
Arkansas3,013,825472516
California39,557,0453,2593,563
Colorado5,695,564588632
Connecticut3,572,665276294
Delaware967,171104111
District of Columbia702,4553031
Florida21,299,3252,9153,133
Georgia10,519,4751,4071,504
Hawaii1,420,491110117
Idaho1,754,208212231
Illinois12,741,0809481,031
Indiana6,691,878774858
Iowa3,156,145291318
Kansas2,911,505366404
Kentucky4,468,402664724
Louisiana4,659,978716768
Maine1,338,404128137
Maryland6,042,718474501
Massachusetts6,902,149343360
Michigan9,995,915905974
Minnesota5,611,179349381
Mississippi2,986,530597664
Missouri6,126,452848921
Montana1,062,305168182
Nebraska1,929,268201230
Nevada3,034,392300330
New Hampshire1,356,458134147
New Jersey8,908,520525564
New Mexico2,095,428350391
New York19,542,209889943
North Carolina10,383,6201,3211,437
North Dakota760,07795105
Ohio11,689,4429961,068
Oklahoma3,943,079603655
Oregon4,190,713450506
Pennsylvania12,807,0601,1031,190
Rhode Island1,057,3155659
South Carolina5,084,1279701,037
South Dakota882,235110130
Tennessee6,770,0109741,041
Texas28,701,8453,3053,642
Utah3,161,105237260
Vermont626,2996068
Virginia8,517,685778820
Washington7,535,591497546
West Virginia1,805,832265294
Wisconsin5,813,568530588
Wyoming577,737100111

States with the best drivers

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Vermont
  3. Alaska
  4. North Dakota
  5. Wyoming

Rhode Island

Based on the data, Rhode Island has the best drivers in the United States. In 2018, there were just 56 fatal car accidents and 59 total fatalities. It’s likely that Rhode Island earned the top ranking because it’s the smallest state. Despite the statistical indication of safer drivers, car insurance isn’t cheap. The average car insurance premium in Rhode Island is $2,066 per year; that’s over $500 more expensive than the national average rate of $1,555. The average cost of car insurance is not solely based on local driving patterns, however — other factors may have a more significant impact on Rhode Island rates

Vermont

Vermont is another small state with very few fatal accidents. In 2018, there were 60 fatal accidents in Vermont and 68 total deaths. Vermont is a very rural state, and it has a low population density. Because there are fewer people on the road, the risk of serious accidents goes down. Generally speaking, car insurance in Vermont is cheap. The average Vermont driver pays $1,123 annually for full coverage car insurance. 

Alaska

Although Alaska is a very large state in terms of land mass, it actually has a very small population. Only about 737,438 people live in Alaska, which means the population density is very low. In 2018, there were 69 fatal accidents in the state of Alaska with 80 total deaths. The average driver in Alaska pays $1,388 annually for insurance, which is about $167 less than the national average.

North Dakota

In 2018, North Dakota recorded 95 fatal crashes and 105 total deaths. The main reason why drivers in North Dakota are among the safest is because the country is largely rural. In fact, data shows that North Dakota’s rural population accounts for almost 40% of the state’s total population. With so many drivers living in rural areas, the roads are less congested and fewer accidents occur. The average car insurance policy costs $1,211 per year in North Dakota, which is far below the national average.

Wyoming

Wyoming is the least populated state, with roughly 577,737 people. In 2018, it had 100 fatal accidents and 111 total deaths. Wyoming has a relatively low fatal accident rate because there are such few people on the road. The population is very small and residents are spread out. The average annual car insurance rate in the state is $1,335, which is about $200 cheaper than the national average rate.

States with the worst drivers

  1. Texas
  2. California
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. North Carolina

Texas

The IIHS data shows that Texas drivers are the worst in the country. In 2018, there were a staggering 3,305 fatal crashes leading to 3,642 total deaths. Texas also leads the country in the number of fatal alcohol-related accidents. Texas is the second most populated state, and with millions of drivers on the road at any given time, the risk for accidents is high. On average, Texas drivers pay $1,974 per year for car insurance, which is about $420 more expensive than the national average.

California

California has the largest population and the most drivers of any state. In 2018, there were 3,259 fatal accidents and 3,563 total deaths on California roads. Data also shows that California had a high number of fatal accidents due to alcohol impairment and failure to wear a seat belt. The average cost of car insurance in California is $1,974  per year, which is tied with the average rate in Texas.

Florida

Florida does not have the highest rate of fatal accidents, but it does have the highest average car insurance rate in the country. In 2018, there were 2,915 fatal accidents and 3,133 total deaths in Florida. As a result, and likely combined with risk of severe weather, Florida drivers pay a huge premium for insurance. The average cost of a car insurance policy in Florida is $2,587 per year, which is over $1,000 more than the national average rate.

Georgia

In Georgia, there were 1,407 fatal accidents and 1,504 total deaths in 2018. Roughly 754 drivers were killed in alcohol-related accidents and 448 people died in fatal crashes due to lack of seat belt use. Although Georgia drivers are ranked the fourth worst in the country, the average Georgia driver pays $1,746 per year for insurance, which is only about $200 more than the national average. 

North Carolina

North Carolina is ranked fifth for worst drivers in the country. There were 1,321 fatal accidents in 2018 and 1,437 total deaths in 2018. North Carolina also has a relatively high rate of pedestrian deaths. However, car insurance rates in the state are below average. The average North Carolina driver pays $1,378 per year for insurance, which is about $177 cheaper than the national average rate. 

The takeaway: 

  • The states with the best drivers are Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming.
  • The states with the worst drivers are Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
  • Drivers are not the sole contributing factor in determining car insurance rates but it can be a significant factor.

Based on IIHS data, the states with the best drivers happen to be some of the smallest, or least populated states. On the other hand, the states with the worst drivers are typically the largest states in terms of population and number of licensed drivers. If you live in a state with unsafe drivers, make sure you have enough car insurance coverage to protect yourself, your vehicle and other drivers in the event of an accident. Leverage other savings opportunities to mitigate higher rates in your state.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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