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The worst drivers by state

Craig Fitzgerald


Everybody thinks their state’s drivers are the worst. If you live in Massachusetts, like I do, you think Boston drivers are more aggressive and disconnected than anywhere in the country. If you live in New York, or southern California, you think your population has a lock on the Worst Driver title. But then there are the statistics that measure all kinds of things from the total number of crashes, the age of the driver, and how well drivers understand the rules of the road, and they prove that what you think about your state is a pretty different from the truth.

Least Likely to Understand the Rules of the Road: District of Columbia


GMAC Insurance conducted a study in 2011 that polled respondents on basic questions you might find on any state’s written driving test. Overall, about 20 percent of those respondents – 41 million people – wouldn’t pass if they had to take a written test. But our nation’s capital appears to be the worst, ranking 51st out of all 50 states and one district. Just 71 percent of drivers polled there were capable of passing a written driving test.

Worst Teen Drivers: South Dakota

South Dakota

US News and World Report published a study that focused on teen driving, with 11 variables that took teen fatalities, number of teen driver’s licenses issued and road quality statistics into consideration. With more than 46,500 teen drivers, South Dakota scored a pitiful 41.72 in US News and World Report’s methodology.

Worst Senior Drivers: Florida


“My parents didn’t want to move to Florida,” said Jerry Seinfeld, “but they turned sixty and that’s the law.” Florida estimates that by 2030, one quarter of all drivers carrying a license in that state will be over the age of 65. So it should be no surprise that according to TRIP, a national transportation research group, people over the age of 65 are more likely to get killed in a car accident there. California has more senior drivers, but experienced fewer fatalities. Per capita, Texas had the most senior traffic deaths.

Most Distracted Drivers: Tennessee


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council are placing a strong emphasis on eliminating driver distractions like cell phones from the driver’s seat. Both New York and California scored high on the number of cell phone-related crashes that resulted in fatalities, but Tennessee was off the charts. The NSC found that 10.6 percent of all fatal crashes in that state involved the use of a cell phone. That’s ten times the average, and well beyond that of states like New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Most Likely to Die in a Car Crash: Montana


If you get in an accident in Montana – according to 2012 US Census data – you’re more likely to die in a car accident. Per hundred million miles traveled, Montanans suffer an average of two fatalities per year. That compares to 0.9 in New York, and 0.6 in Massachusetts. I can only assume this is because Montanans are more likely to drive 1967 Chevy pickups with no seatbelts, if I can trust what I see in the movies.