Study finds the best and worst drivers by state

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Driving involves a lot of trust in yourself and others on the road. However, not all states boast the safest drivers.

Using QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data, we’ll look at where drivers steer toward safety and where they hit the brakes on responsible road behavior. Additionally, learn more about how driving infractions affect your auto insurance.

  • Rhode Island recorded the most driving incidents per 1,000 drivers — just ahead of Maine. From Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023, Rhode Island had 51.33 driving incidents (accidents, DUIs, speeding-related incidents and citations) per 1,000 drivers. Maine came in a close second (50.05), followed by California (40.37). The states with the fewest driving incidents per 1,000 drivers were Michigan (11.28), Arkansas (12.81) and Vermont (14.87).
  • Massachusetts and Rhode Island were the only states with more than 30.00 accidents per 1,000 drivers in the period analyzed. Massachusetts (38.82) and Rhode Island (33.15) were joined by California (29.18) in the top three. Conversely, Michigan (5.95), Arkansas (7.54) and Oklahoma (8.42) had the lowest accident rates per 1,000 drivers.
  • California and North Carolina were the only states with DUI rates higher than 3.00 per 1,000 drivers. California ranked first, with 3.45 DUIs per 1,000 drivers from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023. It was followed by North Carolina (3.22) and North Dakota (2.83). The states with the lowest DUI rates per 1,000 drivers were Oklahoma (0.46), Louisiana (0.47), and Delaware and Connecticut (tied at 0.63).
  • Speeding incident rates were the highest in Montana by a wide margin. Montana had 5.86 speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers in the period analyzed — far ahead of Oregon (5.09) and Iowa (4.99), the next highest ranking states. The states with the fewest speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers were Rhode Island (0.95), Massachusetts (1.12) and the District of Columbia (1.19).
  • North Dakota had the highest rate of citations in the period analyzed. Among the states with available data in this category, North Dakota ranked first with 14.82 citations (which include improper passing, failure to yield and more but not accidents, DUIs and speeding) per 1,000 drivers in the state. It’s followed by the District of Columbia (13.56) and Virginia (10.39). Meanwhile, Kentucky (3.63), West Virginia (3.77) and New Hampshire (3.81) had the fewest citations.

Rhode Island had the highest driving incident rate — 51.33 per 1,000 drivers — from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023, according to our analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data. Driving incidents are:

  • Accidents
  • DUIs
  • Speeding-related incidents
  • Citations

One reason Rhode Island drivers may struggle on the road? It may not always be their fault.

A 2023 Consumer Affairs study found Rhode Island had the second worst roads. According to the study, 75% of Rhode Island’s major roads are poor or mediocre. (It’s no surprise that the state’s residents are among the most interested in potholes.)

States with the highest driving incident rates

Rank State Driving incidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Rhode Island 51.33
2 Maine 50.05
3 California 40.37

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

LendingTree auto insurance expert and licensed insurance agent Rob Bhatt says drivers who violate traffic laws impact more than just their insurance rates.

Insurance companies increase their rates for all drivers in a particular state when a state’s accident and car theft rates go up,” he says. “Increases in accidents and car thefts cost insurance companies money because they have to pay to repair or replace more vehicles. When an insurance company’s costs go up, they try to recoup them through higher rates. Unfortunately, recent supply chain issues and inflation have increased insurance companies’ costs in a lot of places, including states where accident rates have stayed flat. This has contributed to rising insurance rates for a lot of drivers, including those with clean records. We’ll hopefully see prices stabilize soon.”

Maine came in a close second, with 50.05 incidents per 1,000 drivers. That’s a dramatic change from last year’s study, where Maine was among the 10 best states for drivers. California rounded out the top three, with 40.37 driving incidents.

On the other hand, Michigan (11.28) had the lowest driving incident rate in the period analyzed. It’s followed by Arkansas (12.81) and Vermont (14.87).

Full rankings

States with the highest/lowest driving incident rates

Rank State Driving incidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Rhode Island 51.33
2 Maine 50.05
3 California 40.37
4 District of Columbia 35.16
5 North Carolina 32.44
6 Utah 31.07
7 Indiana 29.81
8 South Carolina 29.12
9 Ohio 28.90
10 North Dakota 28.56
11 Oregon 28.41
12 Montana 28.02
13 Virginia 27.65
14 Washington 27.34
15 Maryland 27.07
16 Idaho 26.48
17 Hawaii 26.02
18 Nebraska 25.80
19 Texas 25.61
20 Georgia 25.35
21 Tennessee 25.12
22 Wisconsin 24.85
23 New Jersey 24.71
24 Iowa 24.42
25 Wyoming 23.62
26 Alabama 23.52
27 Arizona 23.38
28 Missouri 23.12
29 Kansas 23.01
30 Colorado 22.88
31 Minnesota 22.63
32 Florida 21.96
33 Illinois 21.41
34 New Mexico 19.89
35 Pennsylvania 19.70
36 South Dakota 19.38
37 Massachusetts 19.29
38 Delaware 18.90
39 Nevada 18.89
40 Alaska 18.32
41 Connecticut 18.02
42 New Hampshire 17.35
43 Mississippi 17.10
44 Louisiana 17.04
45 New York 16.56
46 Oklahoma 15.75
47 West Virginia 15.33
48 Kentucky 15.14
49 Vermont 14.87
50 Arkansas 12.81
51 Michigan 11.28

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

Diving into each incident type, just two states had more than 30.00 accidents per 1,000 drivers — Massachusetts (38.82) and Rhode Island (33.15).

This comes as auto fatalities in Massachusetts continue to rise. According to preliminary data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, there were 434 deaths involving vehicles in 2022 — the most since at least 2015.

California, the next highest ranking state, fell just short of 30.00 accidents, at 29.18 per 1,000 drivers.

Note: While our rankings for the states with the most driving incidents analyze accidents, DUIs, speeding-related incidents and citations together, our analyses of each component don’t align if you add the individual findings. That’s because our overall driving incident rankings solely look at whether drivers had an incident on their record. Meanwhile, the category rankings examine the total amount of quotes in a particular state and calculate percentages based on the individual categories.

States with the highest accident rates

Rank State Accidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Massachusetts 38.82
2 Rhode Island 33.15
3 California 29.18

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

Of course, not all accidents are avoidable — no matter how well you drive. According to Bhatt, it’s important to drive defensively, especially if you live in a state with a high accident rate.

“You have to account for unsafe drivers and be ready to avoid them,” he says. “This includes scanning your mirrors so you can safely get out of the way of a speeding car and making sure an intersection is clear before you enter it. Speeding and impairment have perennially been the leading causes of the most severe accidents for several years, and distracted driving has joined them as a leading cause in more recent years. Avoiding all three of these behaviors when you drive can greatly reduce your chances of being involved in an accident, or at least causing an accident.”

If you’re in an accident you didn’t cause, you probably don’t have to worry about rising insurance rates. “If you’re involved in an accident caused by someone else and the at-fault person is cited in connection with the accident, your insurance company probably won’t increase your rates,” Bhatt says. “However, it’s important to note that policies vary a bit by company.”

Meanwhile, Michigan and Arkansas made the list of states with the lowest accident rates, at 5.95 and 7.54, respectively. Oklahoma joined them in the bottom three, with 8.42 accidents per 1,000 drivers.

Full rankings

States with the highest/lowest accident rates

Rank State Accidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Massachusetts 38.82
2 Rhode Island 33.15
3 California 29.18
4 District of Columbia 22.10
5 North Carolina 20.82
6 South Carolina 19.71
7 Indiana 18.14
8 Utah 18.13
9 Maryland 18.02
10 Texas 17.76
11 Ohio 16.66
12 New Jersey 16.27
13 Tennessee 16.01
14 Washington 15.70
15 Idaho 15.42
16 Virginia 15.29
17 Nebraska 15.20
18 Hawaii 15.14
19 Georgia 14.98
20 Alabama 14.93
21 Arizona 14.51
22 Oregon 14.44
23 Florida 14.32
24 Montana 13.70
25 Maine 13.13
26 Wisconsin 13.09
27 Wyoming 13.00
28 Colorado 12.98
29 Pennsylvania 12.52
30 Nevada 12.51
31 Illinois 12.48
32 Missouri 12.20
33 Iowa 12.05
34 New Mexico 11.93
35 Kansas 11.52
36 Louisiana 11.49
37 Connecticut 11.44
38 North Dakota 11.36
39 Mississippi 11.35
40 New Hampshire 11.30
41 Kentucky 9.97
42 West Virginia 9.77
43 Minnesota 9.59
44 Alaska 9.53
45 New York 9.51
46 Delaware 9.11
47 Vermont 8.93
48 South Dakota 8.91
49 Oklahoma 8.42
50 Arkansas 7.54
51 Michigan 5.95

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

From Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023, California and North Carolina were the only states with DUI rates higher than 3.00 per 1,000 drivers. Our data revealed California had 3.45 DUIs per 1,000 drivers.

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 357 DUI arrests per 100,000 drivers in 2020 — the latest data available.

Not far behind California, North Carolina had 3.22 DUIs per 1,000 drivers. North Dakota (2.83) rounded out the top three.

States with the highest DUI rates

Rank State DUIs per 1,000 drivers
1 California 3.45
2 North Carolina 3.22
3 North Dakota 2.83

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

On the other hand, Oklahoma had the lowest DUI rate per 1,000 drivers, at just 0.46. Louisiana (0.47) followed, while Delaware and Connecticut tied for third at 0.63.

Full rankings

States with the highest/lowest DUI rates

Rank State DUIs per 1,000 drivers
1 California 3.45
2 North Carolina 3.22
3 North Dakota 2.83
4 Wyoming 2.45
5 Nebraska 2.43
6 Indiana 2.40
7 Massachusetts 2.38
8 Idaho 2.33
9 Wisconsin 2.24
10 Ohio 1.99
11 Iowa 1.97
12 New Mexico 1.92
12 Rhode Island 1.92
14 South Dakota 1.85
14 Montana 1.85
16 Virginia 1.83
16 Tennessee 1.83
18 Alaska 1.65
19 Arizona 1.60
20 Utah 1.56
21 Washington 1.55
22 Minnesota 1.51
23 Colorado 1.50
24 New Jersey 1.38
25 Oregon 1.37
26 Maine 1.20
27 South Carolina 1.15
28 District of Columbia 1.11
29 Alabama 1.10
30 Nevada 1.09
31 Kansas 1.07
32 Hawaii 1.06
33 Pennsylvania 1.04
34 Vermont 0.98
35 New York 0.97
36 Maryland 0.96
37 New Hampshire 0.93
38 Florida 0.89
39 Mississippi 0.88
40 Texas 0.84
41 Missouri 0.80
42 Illinois 0.79
43 Kentucky 0.78
43 West Virginia 0.78
45 Michigan 0.74
46 Arkansas 0.73
46 Georgia 0.73
48 Connecticut 0.63
48 Delaware 0.63
50 Louisiana 0.47
51 Oklahoma 0.46

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

Looking at speeding-related incident rates, Montana ranked first — and it wasn’t even close. In the period analyzed, Montana had 5.86 speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers. For comparison, Oregon and Iowa ranked next, at 5.09 and 4.99, respectively.

Some geographical (and historical) factors could play a role here. Montana was one of the last states to institute a speed limit — even then, it was set federally in 1974 — and the state’s largely rural nature means many drivers may be tempted to speed along long, empty stretches of road.

States with the highest speeding-related incident rates

Rank State Speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Montana 5.86
2 Oregon 5.09
3 Iowa 4.99

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

The financial consequences of a speeding ticket can be severe — particularly when it comes to your insurance.

“In most states, you’re likely to see your insurance rates rise by 10% to 20%, depending on your insurance company and the severity of the offense,” Bhatt says. “For insurance purposes, a ticket usually comes off your record after three years, though some companies count one against you for up to five years. Several states allow you to go to traffic school to keep a speeding ticket off your record, and this is a relatively easy way to keep your insurance rates low.”

If you rack up multiple speeding tickets in a short amount of time, you’re likely to see your rates go up by a lot more, and some companies may drop you.

On the other end of the list, Rhode Island (0.95) had the fewest speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers. It’s followed by Massachusetts (1.12) and the District of Columbia (1.19).

Full rankings

States with the highest/lowest speeding-related incident rates

Rank State Speeding-related incidents per 1,000 drivers
1 Montana 5.86
2 Oregon 5.09
3 Iowa 4.99
4 Utah 4.59
5 Kansas 4.44
6 Georgia 4.39
6 Hawaii 4.39
8 Ohio 4.33
9 Missouri 4.21
9 Washington 4.21
11 Minnesota 4.07
12 Delaware 3.88
13 Wisconsin 3.83
14 Virginia 3.61
15 Colorado 3.59
16 Idaho 3.51
17 North Carolina 3.46
18 Alabama 3.41
19 South Dakota 3.33
20 Oklahoma 3.31
21 Indiana 3.29
22 Wyoming 3.18
23 Arizona 3.14
24 Nebraska 3.05
25 Alaska 3.01
26 North Dakota 2.89
27 Connecticut 2.88
28 South Carolina 2.86
29 Illinois 2.84
30 Tennessee 2.72
31 Texas 2.64
32 Florida 2.63
33 New Mexico 2.59
34 Maryland 2.58
35 Pennsylvania 2.49
35 Louisiana 2.49
37 West Virginia 2.47
38 New Hampshire 2.33
39 New York 2.24
40 Nevada 2.05
41 California 2.03
41 Arkansas 2.03
43 Vermont 1.91
44 Michigan 1.75
45 Kentucky 1.70
46 Maine 1.64
47 Mississippi 1.62
48 New Jersey 1.34
49 District of Columbia 1.19
50 Massachusetts 1.12
51 Rhode Island 0.95

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

When it comes to citations, North Dakota ranked first. While citation data wasn’t available in every state (four were missing), North Dakota had 14.82 citations per 1,000 drivers. This includes infraction like improper passing, failure to yield and more but not accidents, DUIs and speeding. (See the methodology for more.)

The District of Columbia (13.56) and Virginia (10.39) ranked next.

States with the highest citation rates

Rank State Citations per 1,000 drivers
1 North Dakota 14.82
2 District of Columbia 13.56
3 Virginia 10.39

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

Bhatt says the consequences of a citation vary by type.

“Tickets for improper passing and failure to yield usually increase your rates by about the same as a minor speeding ticket,” he says. “From a car insurance company’s point of view, an ideal customer for an insurance company is someone who’s never going to get into an accident. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive way to know who’s going to get into an accident and who isn’t. However, if you have a clean driving record, insurance companies are going to see you as less risky, and they’ll fight to get your business by offering you a low rate.

“A minor infraction makes you appear a little more risky than someone with a clean record, and this is likely to leave you paying slightly more for car insurance than the least risky drivers. Drivers with multiple traffic violations and/or accidents are considered the riskiest of all. Some insurance companies won’t accept drivers with multiple and/or major violations, but most will accept a driver with just one relatively minor infraction.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky had the fewest citations, at 3.63 per 1,000 drivers. It’s followed by West Virginia (3.77) and New Hampshire (3.81).

Full rankings

States with the highest/lowest citation rates

Rank State Citations per 1,000 drivers
1 North Dakota 14.82
2 District of Columbia 13.56
3 Virginia 10.39
4 Oregon 10.22
5 Montana 10.08
6 Ohio 9.89
7 Utah 9.63
8 Minnesota 9.27
9 South Carolina 9.14
10 Wisconsin 9.11
11 Massachusetts 8.96
12 Iowa 8.53
13 New Jersey 8.48
14 Idaho 8.45
15 Washington 8.34
16 Georgia 8.21
17 Nebraska 7.94
18 North Carolina 7.87
18 Kansas 7.87
20 Hawaii 7.77
21 California 7.75
22 South Dakota 7.71
23 Indiana 7.50
24 Missouri 7.33
25 Colorado 7.29
26 Maryland 7.24
27 Tennessee 7.23
28 Delaware 7.09
29 Illinois 6.79
30 Alabama 6.61
31 Florida 6.37
32 New York 5.96
33 Arizona 5.93
34 New Mexico 5.37
35 Texas 5.25
36 Pennsylvania 4.98
37 Maine 4.72
38 Vermont 4.62
38 Oklahoma 4.62
40 Nevada 4.56
41 Connecticut 4.52
42 Louisiana 4.50
43 Michigan 3.87
44 Arkansas 3.82
45 New Hampshire 3.81
46 West Virginia 3.77
47 Kentucky 3.63

Source: LendingTree analysis of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023. Note: Alaska, Mississippi, Rhode Island and Wyoming didn’t have citation data available.

While receiving a ticket or citation can be frustrating (and often comes with long-term consequences), your insurance rates won’t stay high forever.

“The most important things you can do after you get a blemish on your driving record are to take a deep breath and be patient,” Bhatt says. “Yes, you’re going to have to pay more for car insurance after a ticket or accident, which will be a financial burden. However, as long as you can avoid tickets and accidents in the future, your rates will come back down again. Be more careful when you drive.”

In the meantime, here’s what else you can do:

  • Understand when your insurance company will raise your rates. “Your existing rate remains in effect until your current policy term expires,” Bhatt says. “You don’t have to switch companies right away, but you should be prepared to start shopping soon. Your current insurance company usually informs you of a rate increase when it’s time to renew your policy, which is usually about four to six weeks before your current policy term ends.”
  • Once you see your new rates, start shopping around. Insurance companies provide quotes for free upon request. This is a great way to see if a different company can give you a lower rate than your current company.
  • Know that the impact a ticket or accident has on your car insurance rate varies by company. “Some companies are more forgiving of tickets or accidents than others,” Bhatt says. “Your rates will still go up, but the increase may be smaller with a different company than with your current carrier.”
  • Consider changing your coverage type. “In addition to shopping around, you can also lower your car insurance rates by increasing the deductibles for your collision and comprehensive coverages if you have them,” he says. “If you have an older car with a potentially low resale value, consider removing the comprehensive and collision coverage altogether.”
  • Reducing your liability limits isn’t recommended. “You should refrain from reducing your limits for uninsured motorist coverage, if you have it, because this is also an important coverage you don’t want to skimp on,” he says. “Plus, cutting back on uninsured motorist coverage usually doesn’t save you much money.”

Researchers analyzed tens of millions of QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quotes from Oct. 26, 2022, through Oct. 26, 2023.

To determine the best and worst drivers by state, researchers calculated the number of driving incidents per 1,000 drivers in every state. This main category included accidents, DUIs, speeding-related incidents and citations.

We looked at the four categories combined and individually. Our individual analyses don’t add to the driving incident total because of drivers with multiple incidents.

The categories that fell under citations included:

  • Carelessness or recklessness
  • Improper lane usage, improper passing and improper turning
  • No insurance or no license to operate a vehicle or misrepresenting a license
  • Failure to yield to a car or pedestrian
  • Safety violations, following another vehicle closely and passing a bus
  • Not signaling
  • Hit-and-runs involving a bicycle or pedestrian
  • Having defective equipment or using the wrong road
  • Comprehensive or other citations

Source

This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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