A new study of the worst drivers in the United States, published by Car Insurance Comparison and featured in USA Today, states that Minnesota has the best drivers in the country and that Montana has the worst. The worst driver study weighed a number of different factors to arrive at a score for each state.
Factors considered included the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; the number of failure to obey citations, which include improper or invalid driver’s licenses, seat belt infractions, and traffic signal and sign citations; drunk driving; speeding; and careless driving.
The scores ranged between 48 for Montana and 225 for Minnesota. Montana has the twentieth highest number of speeders in the country, the sixth highest number of careless drivers, and the state leads the country in per-miles-traveled fatalities.
The 10 states with the worst drivers – pictured in red – after Montana, are New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Hawaii, North Dakota, Delaware, Mississippi, and Nevada.
New Mexico reportedly was not in the list’s top 10 last year, but shot up all the way to the number two worst spot, which it shares with South Carolina, due to a sharp spike in drunk driving cases in the state in 2015.
“The rate of drunk driving should be a cause for concern among New Mexico residents, as their biggest change came in that category,” said Tyler Spraul, the director of the study.
The number of fatalities as a result of auto accidents across the United States was reported to have risen by eight percent for the six months ending in June 2015.
Data from 2014 indicates that 32,675 people died in motor vehicle accidents, down 0.1 percent from 2013, and that fatalities per 100 million miles traveled fell to a record low. Besides deaths increasing by eight percent in the first six months of 2015, the fatality rate increased by over four percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The worst states in each category studied were North Dakota for drunk driving, Louisiana for failure to obey infractions, New Hampshire for speeding, and Florida for careless driving.
At one time, drivers in Montana were allowed to consume alcohol while they drove, there was no speed limit in many areas a few years earlier as well, but that changed in 2005 with new legislation, according to Desert News. Judges are reported to have become less lenient in fatal Montana drunk driving cases, rejecting pleas deals and insisting on jail time.
“There is significant anti-government sentiment, which spills over into impaired-driving enforcement,” Rebecca Sturdevant with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in Montana said in 2010. “Rather than praising public safety officers for keeping our highways safe, I have heard legislators berate them for bothering drivers.”
Seven states still permit passengers to drink in moving motor vehicles. Mississippi is the only state that permits outright drinking and driving by motorists, however, drivers must still maintain a blood/alcohol levels below 0.08 percent according to Legal Match. Interesting is Mississippi’s ratings in the study: third worst for fatal crashes, thirteenth each for careless driving and traffic infractions, and twenty-second for drunk driving.
The worst driver study reports that 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2013, down two percent from 2012 levels. Fourteen states have implemented cellphone talking-while-driving bans and 46 have a “total ban on texting.”
Though accidents increased in the first half of 2015, according to the NHTSA, accidents are down 67 percent overall since the group first began collecting data in 1975.
Montana was also rated as the state with the worst drivers in 2014. In 2013, Montana’s drivers were ranked as being ninth worst in the United States; Louisiana was reported to have had the worst drivers that year.
[Feature Photo by Volker Hartmann/Getty Images]