The Most Dangerous (and Safest) States for Drivers

Some states have much safer highways than others. Read on to find out which states are home to the safest and most dangerous drivers based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s traffic fatality analysis.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

Full Bio →

Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 15, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Things to remember

  • Massachusetts is home to the safest drivers, while Mississippi and Wyoming are the most dangerous states for drivers
  • Rural driving leads to more accident fatalities than urban driving
  • Many factors contribute to road safety conditions across the U.S., including alcohol consumption and distracted driving

On average, one person dies for every 100 million miles driven. However, while city driving is intimidating with busy intersections, distracted pedestrians, and difficult parking, urban roads are less deadly. For example, the safest drivers live in Washington, D.C., and other big cities like New York or Boston.

The most dangerous states for drivers are Mississippi, Wyoming, and Arkansas. More fatal accidents occurred on rural roads instead of urban interstates and freeways in these states.

To evaluate road safety across the U.S., we analyzed the most recent traffic fatality analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We compensated for population density by examining the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 people. We also investigated what percentage of fatal accidents were caused by drunk driving and failure to wear a seat belt.

The best way to keep yourself safe on the roads is to be a safe driver yourself. There are lots of benefits to driving safely including auto insurance discounts. There are even companies that offer cash back for safe drivers.

Keep reading to see if your home state made the list of most dangerous states for drivers.

The Best and Worst States for Drivers

The states with the most fatal accidents per year are Texas and California, each with over 3,000 fatalities in 2019. However, both states have the highest populations in the country. 

To represent the states with the most dangerous vs. safest drivers more accurately, we examined which state had the most traffic deaths per 100,000 people.

StateNumber of Fatal Traffic Accidents per YearNumber of Deaths per 100,000 People% of Fatal Accidents Involving Alcohol% of Fatal Accidents With no Seat Belt
Mississippi64325.426%42%
Wyoming1472225%49%
Arkansas50521.225%48%
South Carolina1,00120.728%53%
Montana18419.636%62%
New Mexico42418.831%54%
Alabama93018.630%54%
Louisiana72717.830%54%
Tennessee1,13517.626%48%
Kentucky73217.320%54%
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Compare RatesStart Now →

The most dangerous state for drivers is Mississippi, with over 25 traffic deaths per 100,000 people. Wyoming and Arkansas are the next most dangerous, with over 20 deaths per 100,000 people. New Mexico is the fifth-most dangerous state but had the highest pedestrian death rate in 2019.

Compare these to the best driving states — Massachusetts, New York, and Washington, D.C.

StateNumber of Fatal Traffic Accidents per YearNumber of Deaths per 100,000 People% of Fatal Accidents Involving Alcohol% of Fatal Accidents With no Seat Belt
Massachusetts3344.933%48.5%
New York9315.228%34.9%
Washington, D.C.235.226%50%
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Compare RatesStart Now →

There were five or fewer traffic deaths per 100,000 people in these states.

Unfortunately, alcohol was involved in nearly one-third of all fatal accidents in the most dangerous and safest states. If drivers and passengers had been wearing seat belts, more than half of all fatal accidents in 2019 might have been avoided.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Does my location affect auto insurance rates?

Auto insurance companies use several factors to determine your rates, and knowing which state has the safest drivers can help you save money on car insurance. For example, drivers in states with low auto theft rates and fewer accidents will get cheaper auto insurance quotes because insurers assume they’re less likely to file a claim.

Use this table to compare auto insurance rates in your state to the more dangerous driving states in the country:

Average Annual Liability and Full Coverage Auto Insurance Rates by State

StatesAverage Annual
Liability Auto Insurance Rates
Average Annual Full Coverage Auto Insurance Rates
Alabama$394.21$868.48
Alaska$539.68$1,027.75
Arizona$508.76$972.85
Arkansas$394.13$906.34
California$489.66$986.75
Colorado$520.04$981.64
Connecticut$650.94$1,151.07
Delaware$799.30$1,240.57
District of Columbia$628.82$1,330.73
Florida$857.64$1,257.13
Georgia$557.38$1,048.40
Hawaii$458.54$873.28
Idaho$344.29$679.89
Illinois$446.72$884.56
Indiana$382.68$755.03
Iowa$299.18$702.46
Kansas$358.24$862.93
Kentucky$529.21$938.51
Louisiana$775.83$1,405.36
Maine$338.87$703.82
Maryland$609.74$1,116.45
Massachusetts$606.04$1,129.29
Michigan$795.32$1,364
Minnesota$456.82$875.49
Mississippi$460.50$994.05
Missouri$415.88$872.43
Montana$386.29$863.52
Nebraska$364.64$831.02
Nevada$681.56$1,103.05
New Hampshire$400.56$818.75
New Jersey$869.57$1,382.79
New Mexico$488.03$937.59
New York$804.51$1,360.66
North Carolina$359.42$789.09
North Dakota$298.18$773.30
Ohio$397.11$788.56
Oklahoma$461.01$1,005.32
Oregon$584.13$904.83
Pennsylvania$499.06$970.51
Rhode Island$759.80$1,303.50
South Carolina$527.09$973.10
South Dakota$300.22$766.91
Tennessee$413.91$871.43
Texas$528.75$1,109.66
Utah$497.53$872.93
Vermont$343.12$764.02
Virginia$425.61$842.67
Washington$596.67$968.80
West Virginia$491.83$1,025.78
Wisconsin$374.37$737.18
Wyoming$321.04$847.44
National Average$538.73$1,009.38
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Compare RatesStart Now →

The coverage level you choose will also impact how much you pay for car insurance. The minimum car insurance required in each state is different, but every state requires minimum liability insurance to cover injuries and damages you cause in an at-fault accident. However, it won’t cover your own medical bills or damages.

You should buy more than the minimum auto insurance to ensure you have full coverage in an accident. Full coverage auto insurance costs more but provides liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance to protect you and your passengers. 

Do safe drivers get cheaper auto insurance rates?

Yes, safe drivers with clean driving records will earn discounts from most auto insurance companies. You can earn 5% – 20% off your annual rates with a safe driving discount, and you’ll automatically get cheaper auto insurance quotes if you have an accident-free record. 

The table below shows how annual insurance rates change based on driving records:

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record

Driving CitationAverage Annual Auto Insurance Rate
Clean record$3,328.16
With 1 speeding violation$3,617.80
With 1 accident$4,303.39
With 1 DUI$4,464
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Compare RatesStart Now →

A speeding ticket can raise your rates by at least $500, and one accident can add $1,000 or more to your annual rates. DUIs and reckless driving charges will increase your rates even more by pushing you into a higher-risk category.

High-risk drivers will have a hard time finding insurance coverage with standard companies. If you were involved in a drunk driving accident, compare high-risk auto insurance rates near you to find the best company for your needs.

How to Save Money on Auto Insurance in the Most Dangerous States for Drivers

What state has the safest drivers? Massachusetts and New York have the safest drivers, with the least traffic deaths per 100,000 people per year. Washington, D.C. is also safe for drivers, with only 23 fatal accidents in 2019.

The most dangerous states for driving are Mississippi, Wyoming, and Arkansas, so drivers in these states can expect to pay more for auto insurance.

Insurance companies determine rates based on risk, and they believe drivers in states with more fatal accidents are more likely to file a claim. However, you can lower your rates if you’re a safe driver with a good record.

Safe driver discounts can save you between 5% to 20% with certain companies. You may also want to consider usage-based insurance if you live in one of the most dangerous driving states. Usage-based auto insurance uses telematics systems to track your driving style and offer you cheaper rates than other drivers in your area if you’re a safe driver.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Methodology for Determining The Safest and Most Dangerous States for Drivers

After analyzing vehicle accident data from the 2019 NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System, we determined the number of accident deaths per 100,000 people to represent the most dangerous states for drivers accurately. Then, we ordered the top ten states by road fatalities per 100,000 people.

The percentage of crashes involving alcohol includes fatal crashes where one or more drivers involved had a BAC of .08% or higher. The percentage of deadly crashes without a seat belt includes accidents where the driver or passengers weren’t appropriately restrained.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption