Study: The Most Dangerous States to Drive

In 2017, there were more than 6.4 million car accidents in the United States. 

Thankfully, less than 1% (0.53%) of these accidents resulted in a fatality. However, more than 29% of these accidents resulted in injury and more than 70% resulted in property damage. 

Accidents happen every day. The causes linked to fatal accidents include speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and other controlled substances, distracted driving, bad weather, decreased visibility of nighttime driving, and more.

Depending on the external factors in your state, you may want to consider purchasing additional auto insurance coverage. Although your monthly price can go up with additional coverage, you can find cheap car insurance options that could save you thousands of dollars down the road.

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    10 States Where You Should Statistically Buy More Auto Insurance Coverage

    Taking factors such as rates of grand theft auto, annual precipitation, auto fatalities and drunk driving arrests into consideration, we calculated a score that indicates how risky it is to own and insure a car in every state. The higher the score, the more likely you are to need auto insurance. 

    In this study, we found the top ten states you should consider having full auto insurance coverage:

    1. Alaska
    2. California
    3. Kansas
    4. New Mexico
    5. Missouri
    6. Montana
    7. Mississippi
    8. Arkansas
    9. Colorado
    10. Hawaii

    Alaska had the highest score, largely due to its high rate of grand theft auto cases. If you live in Alaska, you’ll definitely want to use our free tool for comparing the best auto insurance rates.

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      Some states have less rainfall, fewer auto fatalities per capita, fewer cases of grand theft auto, and fewer DUI arrests, which lowers your chances of needing insurance but will never completely remove the need for auto insurance. 

      Even in Maine, the state with the lowest score in our study, there were 172 car crash fatalities and 5,835 DUI arrests in 2017, 383 cars stolen in 2018, and more than 40 inches of rainfall annually. These conditions make even the safest state in our study dangerous for you to drive in. 

      If you are uninsured or underinsured in your state, consider using our tool to compare affordable car insurance rates within your area. 

      The State of Auto Insurance in the United States

      There are more than 225 million licensed drivers in the U.S. who drive more than 290 million registered vehicles. In 2017, motorists drove a record 3.2 trillion miles in total, and this distance has increased by 1.34% per year on average since 1994. If Americans continue at this rate, in 2020 we will drive more than 3.3 trillion miles combined. By 2034, Americans will drive more than 4 trillion miles in a single year. 

      As of 2015, there were an estimated 263 million registered motor vehicles. But in that same year, there were less than 203 million auto insurance policies. It is estimated that 13% of the U.S. population is driving without insurance.

      It’s an unfortunate reality that nearly 1 in 8 drivers in the U.S. are uninsured, but this has led many to consider adding uninsured motorist coverage to their auto insurance policies. The disappointing part about uninsured and underinsured coverage is that we need to subsidize the 13% of Americans who do not have adequate (or any) auto insurance, but what’s perhaps worse than the reality of being hit by an uninsured driver, is being hit by a car thief. Even if you don’t own a car, it’s important if you drive frequently to purchase non-owner car insurance in case you were to get in an accident.

      States With the Most Grand Theft Auto 

      In 2018, there were nearly 1 million (994,381) vehicles stolen in the United States.

      Of these 900,000+ cars stolen, more than 54% of them were stolen within ten states. Although you may argue many of these states also have large populations, these ten states only make up 46% of the U.S. population. 

      The top 3 states with the most stolen cars are: 

      1. California: 163,391
      2. Texas: 74,079
      3. Florida: 47,217 

      However, when you consider cars stolen per capita, Delaware, West Virginia, and Wisconsin top the list.

      If you live in these three states, you will definitely want to consider purchasing a comprehensive car insurance policy that will cover the value of your vehicle in the event of theft. 

      Some of the states with the lowest rates of car theft include Vermont, Maine, and New York.

      States with the Most Auto Fatalities Per Capita

      Another consideration when analyzing how much auto insurance coverage you should seek in your state is the number of fatal accidents per capita. It can be easy to look at the sheer volume of traffic-related deaths in states like Texas and California, with 3,722 and 3,602 deaths in 2017 respectively. What’s more shocking, however, is the states where car crash deaths per capita are high. 

      The top three states with the most fatal car accidents are: 

      1. Mississippi 
        1. The number of deaths 2017: 690
        2. State population 2017: 2,989,663
        3. Auto deaths per capita: 0.02%
      2. Wyoming
        1. The number of deaths 2017: 123
        2. State population 2017: 578,934
        3. Auto deaths per capita: 0.02%
      3. South Carolina
        1. The number of deaths 2017: 988
        2. State population 2017: 5,021,219
        3. Auto deaths per capita: 0.02%

      Other notable states with a high rate of car crash fatalities include Alabama, New Mexico, and Montana. The states with the lowest number of auto fatalities per capita? Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New York are all places where the chances of being the victim of an auto-related fatality are lowest in the U.S.

      If you live in Mississippi, Wyoming, or South Carolina, however, you may want to consider increasing your current auto insurance policy coverage. 

      States With the Most Drunk Driving Arrests

      Driving under the influence is a serious offense, and the statistics of drunk driving in the U.S. may shock you. In 2017, there were 797,259 DUI arrests in the U.S. This means that 0.25% of the U.S. population in 2017 was arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. 

      When you consider the states with the most DUI arrests for minors (under 18 years of age), the top states shift slightly. Two of the top three states for underage drunk driving arrests were not represented in the top 10 states with total DUI arrests per capita. 

      Arizona has the most underage DUI arrests per capita with 198 minors arrested in 2017. Pennsylvania, the state with the second most DUI arrests of minors under the age of 18 per capita, had 349 arrests in 2017.  

      The only state to have the most underage drunk driving arrests and total DUI arrests was Colorado. There were 239 minors arrested in 2017 for DUI and 23,664 total arrests made for DUI in 2017. 

      States With The Worst Weather For Driving

      Approximately 21% of car accidents are caused by adverse weather conditions.

      The majority of these weather-related accidents occur due to wet pavement and during rainfall. In fact, 70% of weather-related accidents occur on wet pavement and 46% while it is raining.

      With this in mind, we wanted to see which states are the most likely to have wet pavement or rainy conditions. Here are the top states with the most annual rainfall. 

      If you live in states with a lot of rainfall, you are likely aware of how dangerous the road conditions can become. Even so, you may not have been aware of just how much rain can increase your chances of a car accident, which is why you should consider evaluating your current auto insurance coverage if you live in these states with the most rain per year:

      1. Hawaii
      2. Louisiana
      3. Mississippi
      4. Alabama
      5. Florida
      6. Tennessee
      7. Georgia
      8. Arkansas
      9. Connecticut
      10. North Carolina


      In this study, we calculated a score based on four metrics: 

      1. The average rate of auto theft in 2018 for every state
      2. Total auto-related fatalities per state in 2017 divided by state populations in 2017
      3. Average annual precipitation per state in inches 
      4. Total driving under the influence arrests per capita in 2017

      The score was calculated with equal weight given to the metrics. If there were more inches of rain on average in a given state, the score reflects that additional risk. If there was a higher rate of grand theft auto, similarly, the score reflects this risk of your vehicle being stolen. 

      Below is the ranking of all 50 states and Washington D.C.

      Ranking (Ascending Worst to Best)State
      4New Mexico
      11South Carolina
      24North Carolina
      26South Dakota
      33District Of Columbia
      35West Virginia
      36Rhode Island
      40New Jersey
      43North Dakota
      47New Hampshire
      50New York

      Drew Page

      Contributing Writer

      Drew is a writer from San Diego, California. He is a student of history and loves to learn how things work at their fundamental level. Studying a wide variety of subjects on personal finance, from both a macro and micro perspective, allows him to simplify the subject matter and paint a higher resolution picture.

      He loves learning, writing and playing music. When not surfing the web, you can find him actually surfing, in the kitchen or reading a physics book (of which he understands close to nothing).