Which States Have the Worst Drivers?

While you might think you can guess the worst drivers by state, the results may surprise you. A variety of factors goes into ranking states by driving habits, including speeding tickets, accidents, fatalities, DUIs, and rudeness. The overall worst state in the nation for driving is Iowa, while the best is New Hampshire. However, the worst states for individual bad driving habits differ greatly.

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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...

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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...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 26, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • Drivers are ranked by a variety of factors, including speeding tickets, DUIs, accidents, fatalities, and rudeness
  • Overall, Iowa is the worst state to drive in, while New Hampshire is the best
  • Other states with bad drivers include Texas for fatalities, Virginia for speeding, Massachusetts for accidents, and South Dakota for driving under the influence

Every state thinks it has the best drivers in the nation, but which state has the worst drivers?

It might seem arbitrary to rate, but four factors decide what makes a state’s drivers bad or good: numbers of DUIs, citations, speeding tickets, and accidents.

While it’s fun to know where your state’s drivers rank, a list of the best and worst drivers by state does have real consequences. One of the main factors insurance companies consider for their policy rates is your location. Where you live may determine what you pay for insurance. The worst other drivers are, the more your auto insurance will cost.

Even though you may live in an area with some terrible drivers, you can still save money on insurance by shopping around. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what quotes might look like for you.

Overall Top 10 Worst Drivers by State

While bad driving habits can be split into groups, some people just don’t want to wait around. The states with the worst overall drivers in 2021 were:

  1. Iowa
  2. North Dakota
  3. Virginia
  4. California
  5. Alaska
  6. Utah
  7. Idaho
  8. New Jersey
  9. Tennessee
  10. Wisconsin

Drivers in these states have the overall worst rates for accidents, DUIs, fatalities on the road, and general rudeness. The numbers are constantly changing, however. For example, Iowa was ranked 23rd in 2020.

The best overall state? The only state in America that doesn’t require insurance to drive legally is New Hampshire. But you also must have enough money to cover expenses in an “at fault” accident.

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What state has the worst drivers for DUIs?

Alcohol-related deaths on the road have dropped nearly 50 percent since the 1980s, but DUIs are still a serious problem.

Statistically speaking, South Dakota and North Dakota have the highest DUI arrest rate per 100,000 drivers. As for DUI-related deaths, Montana ranks number one with a staggering 43 percent of all traffic-related deaths attributed to alcohol.

 StateArrests per 100,000 driversStatePercentage of deaths caused by DUI
1South Dakota721.93Montana43%
2North Dakota678.35Texas40%
4North Carolina518.82Alaska36%
5Mississippi462.21South Dakota35%
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On the other hand, the best states for fewer DUI arrests and deaths are Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Which state has the worst drivers for speeding tickets?

Speeding can cause serious accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 26 percent of all road deaths involved speeding in 2019.

So which states have the most speeders? Here are the top ten:

StatePercentage of drivers with at least one speeding ticket
South Carolina16.55
North Dakota16.06
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Looking at drivers by speeding tickets is a little more complex than counting citations – there are a lot of factors that go into how many people get a speeding ticket. Some states are stricter than others when it comes to issuing citations for speeding.

For example, Colorado penalizes drivers going even one mile over the posted speed limit. On the other hand, Texas, a state that struggles with DUI problems, doesn’t make the top-ten list for speeding incidents. In terms of speeding laws, Texas is the most lenient state.

Which state has the least speeding tickets? West Virginia police officers wrote the fewest speeding citations in 2020.

Which state has the worst drivers for accidents?

There are two separate categories when it comes to automobile accidents. The first is general accidents, including anything from a fender bender to a ten-car pile-up. The second is accidents resulting in fatalities.

Here are the top ten states with drivers that have at least one accident on their record.

StatePercentage of drivers that have an accident on record
Rhode Island15.78
New Hampshire15.71
South Carolina15.41
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Obviously, there’s a big difference between fender benders and fatal accidents. The states with the most fatal accidents tend to be the ones with larger populations.

StatesNumber of fatal accidents per year
North Carolina1,437
South Carolina1,037
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The ranking changes if you consider fatalities per million miles driven (South Carolina claims this spot), but the total death count per state gives a good idea of your location’s danger.

The state with fewest accidents is Massachusetts. Despite having the most drivers with an accident on their record, Massachusetts holds the number-one spot for the least number of fatal crashes per million miles driven.

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Which state has the rudest drivers?

Rude behavior isn’t just something your mother would be ashamed of. Road rage leads to speeding, accidents, violent behavior, and fatalities.

What counts as rude behavior? The following is considered plain rude:

  • Passing when it’s prohibited — over the solid double-yellow line
  • Failure to yield
  • Hit-and-run
  • Tailgating
  • Improper backing
  • Street racing
  • Failure to stop

So, which states are the rudest? If you guess states with a reputation for rude drivers such as California, New Jersey, or New York, you’re in for a surprise. Here are the rankings for bad behavior in 2021.

  1. Virginia
  2. Delaware
  3. Idaho
  4. Georgia
  5. Wyoming
  6. Ohio
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Nebraska
  9. Iowa
  10. Alaska

Meanwhile, the states with the most polite drivers are Kentucky, Mississippi, and Vermont.

How do bad drivers affect your insurance rate?

Of all the factors that affect your insurance rate, your location is one of the most important. As you can see, some states have more drivers with bad habits than others. If you happen to live in one of these states, your insurance rates will be higher.

Insurance companies carefully track the number of claims created and break that information into subgroups. Other factors include your age, gender, vehicle, and driving history.

Unfortunately, the behavior of other drivers can have a huge impact on your insurance rates. For example, Iowa’s spike in driving incidents may mean residents of the Hawkeye state may be in for rising insurance premiums in the future.

Find the Right Insurance no Matter the State

No matter what state you live in, other drivers affect how much you pay for insurance. Knowing that you live in a state with some of the worst drivers can help you prepare for the dangers on the road, but it won’t help you save money.

Whether you live with the best or worst drivers by state, shopping around for insurance can save you money. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool today to see what quotes might look like for you.

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