See in which states you must share the roads with the worst drivers

Updated May 27, 2024
Driver looking at smartphone

If your trucking travels take you out West and through the South, you may wish to polish up your defensive driving skills.

On the other hand, you may be able to give a sigh of relief if you frequently drive through the Northeast.

Those are a couple of top line observations of a new study by Forbes Advisor. That study found dangerous driving is more common in certain states than others, potentially putting drivers at greater risk when they get behind the wheel.  

To uncover which states have the worst drivers, Forbes Advisor analyzed data from all 50 states across eight key metrics. among the key takeaways are:

  • New Mexico tops the list of states with the worst drivers, while Massachusetts is home to the best drivers in the country
  • Five of the top 10 states with the worst drivers are located in the South, including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi
  • Six of the top 10 states with the best drivers are in the Northeast, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island
  • Mississippi has the highest total number of fatal car accidents (31.95 per 100,000 licensed drivers), Montana has the highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes (9.22 per 100,000 licensed drivers), and New Mexico has the highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (10.16 per 100,000 licensed drivers)

Use the comments section below to say where you think the worst drivers are.

The top 10 states with the worst drivers accrding to Fobes Advisor are:

1. New Mexico: Score: 100 out of 100

New Mexico has the worst drivers in the country, with a high number of fatal crashes involving a variety of dangerous driving behaviors.

  • New Mexico has the highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (10.16 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state ranks second highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (9.66 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • New Mexico also has the third highest total number of fatal car accidents (25.65 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state has the third highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (8.11 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • New Mexico ranks sixth highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer (1.39 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

2. Wyoming: Score: 96.62 out of 100

Wyoming is not far behind New Mexico with the worst drivers in the country, in part due to tired drivers getting behind the wheel.

  • Wyoming has the highest number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (2.93 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state ranks second highest in the total number of fatal car accidents (25.93 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It also has the third highest number of DUI arrests (534.69 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Wyoming holds the third highest number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (9.42 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It has the fourth highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (7.87 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state also has the fifth highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (2.93 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

3. Texas: Score: 95.12 out of 100

Drivers in Texas are among the worst in the country with a high number of drivers getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

  • Texas has the second highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (8.32 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state ranks fourth highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (1.29 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It’s also sixth highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (6.67 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The Lone Star state is 10th highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (1.91 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Texas is also the 10th highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer (1.23 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

4. Oklahoma: Score: 92.86 out of 100

Oklahoma drivers have a high number of fatal car crashes compared to the rest of the country.

  • Oklahoma has the sixth highest total number of fatal car accidents (24.32 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The Sooner State ranks eighth highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (2.01 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state is also eighth highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (5.66 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It ranks ninth highest for the number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (6.3 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Oklahoma is also ninth highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer (1.25 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

5. Montana: Score: 92.10 out of 100

Montana has the highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes in the country (9.22 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

  • The state ranks fifth highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (7.77 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Drivers in Montana also have the seventh highest number of fatal car accidents due to drowsy driving (1.03 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It’s also eighth highest for DUI arrests (452.49 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state ranks 10th highest for the total number of fatal car accidents (22.12 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Montana has the 11th highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (1.84 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

6. Louisiana: Score: 88.92 out of 100

Louisiana has some of the worst drivers in the country, with distracted drivers causing a high number of fatal car crashes.

  • Louisiana has the second highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (4.42 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The Bayou State has the seventh highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (6.87 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It ranks eighth highest in the total number of fatal car accidents (22.83 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state has the 11th highest number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (0.79 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

7. Kentucky: Score: 88.45 out of 100

Kentucky’s roads have a high number of distracted drivers, who put themselves and others at risk of deadly crashes.

  • The Bluegrass State has the fourth highest number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (3.54 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Kentucky ranks fifth highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (1.07 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state holds the seventh highest total number of fatal car accidents (23.49 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It ranks 11th highest for DUI arrests (395.45 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

8. Kansas: Score: 86.63 out of 100

There are a high number of fatal car crashes in Kansas due to drivers disobeying traffic signs, signals, or a traffic officer.

  • The state has the second highest number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer (1.71 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Kansas also ranks third highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver (4.32 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It has the third highest number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (1.35 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
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9. Mississippi: Score: 85.04 out of 100

Mississippi has the highest number of fatal car crashes of any state in the country (31.95 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

  • The state ranks sixth highest for the number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (7.12 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It also has the 12th highest number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver (0.73 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • Mississippi ranks 12th highest in the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (5.41 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

10. Missouri: Score: 84.51 out of 100

Rounding out the top 10 states for worst drivers, Missouri has some of the most dangerous driver behavior in the country, including speeding and racing.

  • Missouri ranks fourth highest for the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing (8.28 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • The state also has the seventh highest number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer (1.38 per 100,000 licensed drivers).
  • It holds the 10th highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents (6.2 per 100,000 licensed drivers).

To determine which states have the worst drivers, Forbes Advisor compared all 50 states across the following eight metrics:

  • Total number of fatal car accidents per 100,000 licensed drivers: 20% of score. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of drunk drivers (BAC of 0.08+) involved in fatal car accidents per 100,000 licensed drivers: 14% of score. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of fatal car accidents involving a distracted driver per 100,000 licensed drivers: 14% of score. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of fatal car accidents involving a drowsy driver per 100,000 licensed drivers: 14% of score. This metric reflects the number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was drowsy, asleep, ill or blacked out. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who was driving too fast for conditions, speeding or racing per 100,000 licensed drivers: 14% of score. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of fatal car accidents involving a driver who disobeyed traffic signs, traffic signals or a traffic officer per 100,000 licensed drivers: 14% of score. Data comes from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from 2019 to 2021.
  • Number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers: 7% of score. Data comes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For this metric, we took a three-year average, using data from  2020 to 2022.
  • Number of drivers who looked at a phone per mile: 3% of score. This metric reflects the number of drivers who looked at a phone per mile, relative to the countrywide average. Data comes from Arity, 2024.

The number of licensed drivers comes from the Department of Transportation, 2022.