Deadliest and safest places to drive in the United States

| September 5, 2014

DeadliestAndSafestPlacesRoad safety is always a concern, regardless of where you live. The good news is road fatalities across the United States are down 23 percent since 2005. The bad news: road fatalities still happen far too often.

Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, examined individual fatality rates per distance driven and per population. Although his research proves traffic deaths vary greatly by region, it does offer insight on the deadliest and safest places to drive in the country.

Fatality rates per distance driven across the United States.

Fatality rates per distance driven across the United States.

10 Deadliest Places To Drive

Based on fatality rates per 1 billion miles driven.

1: West Virginia (17.63)
2: South Carolina (17.60)
3: Montana (17.25)
4: North Dakota (16.86)
5: Arkansas (16.47)
6: Kentucky (15.76)
7: Louisiana (15.40)
8: Mississippi (15.05)
9: Oklahoma (14.79)
10: South Dakota (14.59)

10 Safest Places To Drive

Based on fatality rates per 1 billion miles driven.

1: District of Columbia (4.20)
2: Massachusetts (6.24)
3: Minnesota (6.93)
4: Connecticut (7.55)
5: Washington (7.82)
6: New Jersey (7.94)
7: Utah (8.18)
8: Rhode Island(8.20)
9: New Hampshire (8.38)
10: California (8.76)

“In 2012, the lowest fatality rates per 1 billion miles were in the District of Columbia (4.20), Massachusetts (6.24), and Minnesota (6.93),” Sivak says. “The highest rates were in West Virginia (17.63), South Carolina (17.60), and Montana (17.25).”

For more insight on the deadliest and safest places to drive across the nation, Sivak also studied fatality rates based on population, per 100,000 people.

“The primary measures of road safety used in the report were the fatality rate per distance driven and the fatality rate per population,” he said. “Because distance driven and population are not perfectly correlated across the states, the ranking of the individual states does vary somewhat based on which of the two measures is being used.”

Fatality rates per population across the United States.

Fatality rates per population across the United States.

10 Deadliest Places To Drive

Based on fatality rates per 100,000 people.

1: North Dakota (24.30)
2: Wyoming (21.34)
3: Montana (20.40)
4: Mississippi (19.50)
5: Arkansas (18.72)
6: Oklahoma (18.56)
7: West Virginia (18.27)
8: South Carolina (18.27)
9: Alabama (17.94)
10: New Mexico (17.50)

10 Safest Places To Drive

Based on fatality rates per population.

1: District of Columbia (2.37)
2: Massachusetts (5.25)
3: New York (5.97)
4: Rhode Island (6.09)
5: Washington (6.44)
6: Connecticut (6.57)
7: New Jersey (6.64)
8: Minnesota (7.34)
9: Illinois (7.43)
10: California (7.51)

Conclusion

Although the deadliest and safest locations in the country vary slightly based on population and distance driven, it’s clear that the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are safer than everywhere else. On the other hand, it’s clear that West Virginia and South Carolina are two of the most dangerous places to drive.

“Road safety, whether measured by the fatality rate per distance driven or per population, is currently best in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts,” Sivak says. “On the other extreme, road safety is currently worst in West Virginia and South Carolina (in terms of the fatality rate per distance driven), and in North Dakota and Wyoming (in terms of the fatality rate per population).”

Even the safest places to drive are always looking for ways to improve transportation. A long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund would certainly help.

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