The Best and Worst States for Drivers, Ranked

There are approximately 229 million licensed drivers in the United States, but the driving conditions in each state are far from equal. Some states are notorious for their long commutes, congestion, snarls and fatalities as well as high traffic deaths. However, other states have smoother driving conditions and lower accidents. This contradiction is mainly due to the differences in population density, road condition and driving behavior. It all depends on where you live and what your driving experience is.

The Bankrate Best States for Drivers Study looked at seven factors including cost, safety, and driving quality. This included commute time information, traffic fatality statistics, road condition reports, and gas prices. It was then possible to determine which state has the best drivers. Check out the results below to find out how your state compares with the rest.

The best and worst states to drive in for drivers

It doesn’t matter where you live, knowing where your state ranks on the list of worst and best places to drive can help. Below is a table that ranks all 50 states according to the seven factors we mentioned. We used data from industry groups, government sources, and research organizations to get these numbers. These are the top and worst places to drive.

These are the top-ranked states for drivers

For a variety of reasons, North Dakota was ranked first on the list. To start, the Peace Garden State is fairly safe for drivers, with a low fatality rate of 1.01 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. In 2019, the state recorded only 1,792 car thefts, putting North Dakota in the top 10 states with the fewest motor vehicle thefts.

Drivers will also find the state to be more affordable due to lower gas prices and repair and maintenance costs. The Insurance Information Institute states that North Dakota has the lowest cost for car insurance with an average premium of $659.94. This is considerably lower than the national average annual premium of $1,004.68.

Additionally, the average commute time in North Dakota is about 17 minutes, which is much shorter than the national average commute time of 27 minutes. According to the Bankrate study, only 10% of roads are in poor shape.

Michelle Halone is an accountant budget specialist at North Dakota Department of Commerce. She rides 30-40 minutes to get from her rural Oliver County home to her Bismarck office. Despite the fact that she might have to wait for wildlife to cross the road or to deal with the snowstorms, it’s not a lot of congestion.

Halone states, “It’s not too bad. I can get ready for the day on my way to work and then on my way home, I can wind down.” I can get in the right mindset and enjoy beautiful sunrises.

Brad Murchie, a private luxury car company Noir 8, lives further east and relies on the roads for success. Murchie said that even Fargo, North Dakota has its rush hour because people are returning from work. But it is a breeze when compared to Chicago, where Murchie used to live.

He says, “The joke around Fargo is that everything is only 10 minutes away.” That’s quite accurate. If traffic and weather conditions are favorable, you can travel anywhere in less than 10 minutes.

Iowa is also not far behind. The second-placed state was ranked with a score of 40.85 in our study. This is 0.35 behind North Dakota. Although its safety and cost scores were higher than those of North Dekota, overall driving quality was better, which gave North Dakota an edge.

With a 38.7 total score, Ohio is in third place. Ohio, with a total score of 38.7, is third. Again, although safety and cost categories were higher than those in the first and second places, Ohio’s overall driving quality was sufficient (Ohio scored 11 for this category, as opposed to North Dakota’s 19 and Iowa’s 17.2), which means that Ohio took third overall.

These are the worst driving states

In terms of the worst drivers by state, California won that honor. Goodwin and Alison Inconstanti are regularly confronted with the notorious California traffic jam. Inconstanti is a tour manager for a film studio in Culver city and lives in Los Angeles’ Tarzana neighborhood. She estimates that her commute would take 20 minutes if she didn’t have to deal with traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, so there is always traffic. It takes her about an hour to get to work.

Inconstanti states, “It means that I get up earlier.” “Most of my nine-hour workdays last 11 hours, with the commute. It’s part of living in this beautiful town that I love.

Goodwin rides the public transit to San Francisco and parks in Oakland. Goodwin says that he and others face a more difficult commute than those in other communities due to the fact that they cannot afford to live close enough to their jobs.

He says, “Over the past 70-plus years we have developed two really large job centers in the region: San Francisco itself and Silicon Valley.” Both are expensive places to live so the majority of housing development was done far from San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

It’s not just long wait times; 67 percent of roads in the Golden State are in poor condition, double the nationwide total of 22 percent, according to the transportation research nonprofit TRIP. According to the Bankrate study, California has higher theft rates, higher insurance premiums and higher repair costs, as well as higher gas prices, than the national averages.

With a score of only 11.8, Hawaii was second to last in the study after California. Although the state scored a decent driving score of 5.1, which is the same score as North Dakota’s high-ranking North Dakota, its safety and driving quality scores were much lower than average.

With a score total of 14.95, Connecticut was third-to-last. Not surprisingly, Connecticut’s safety score was slightly lower than the national average at 6.8. Its cost score was second lowest in the country at 2.65 and its overall driving score was also on the lower side.

Cost of owning a vehicle

As the Great Recession ended, people have become more likely to own their vehicles. They sometimes forget to consider the cost. Bankrate’s study found that cost was a major factor, as was the cost of owning a vehicle.

Like it or not, owning a vehicle comes with many added costs, including the vehicle itself, car insurance, and routine repairs.

The national average cost of car insurance is $1,674. You may have to pay a deductible, or you can cover the costs of repairs yourself if you are in an accident. A single accident can increase your insurance premium.

Californian drivers who live in areas with poor road conditions like California are more likely to have to pay maintenance and make repairs frequently. You could experience flat tires more often if you drive on poorly-paved roads or commute on highways with potholes.

Rocky Moretti, TRIP’s director of policy research and policy, stated that “as roads deteriorate you’re going have to have additional routine repairs.” We estimate that driving on rough roads will cost you $599 per year, $130 billion annually if you take a look at the national numbers.

Mark Hamrick, senior economist at Bankrate, said that many drivers don’t consider all the additional costs associated with owning a vehicle before they drive it off the lot.

Californian, North Dakota, and other states drivers would be well served by having cash stashed away in a savings account that earns strong interest. This way, when they need it, whether it is for a flat tire or a fender bender, or any other reason unexpectedly, it will be there.

There’s also the issue of gas prices. Data from the U.S. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2019, the national average gas price was $2.60 per gallon. The highest rates were paid by the West Coast states like Washington and California. The lowest rates were paid by the Midwestern states like Minnesota, Ohio, and North Dakota.

Commuters may also be able to benefit from hybrid or fuel-efficient cars, carpools, or alternative transportation if they can, and shopping around for insurance.

Questions frequently asked

How can I save money on my car insurance?

The first step to keeping your car insurance costs low is to compare rates from the best insurers in your area. You can save money on your car insurance by taking advantage of discounts, maintaining a clean driving record, and bundling multiple policies.

Which cars are the most affordable to insure?

Cost of car insurance depends on the make and model of the vehicle. This list of the cheapest cars to insure gives you an idea about which vehicles are more affordable in terms of car insurance.