It’s a question for the ages: which state holds the dubious distinction of housing America’s worst drivers? Just in time for increased summer holiday traffic and related accident claims, SmartAsset.com has the answer.
Researchers with the group trawled through National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data to craft rankings based on the percentage of insured drivers in the state; DUI arrests per 1,000 drivers; vehicular-related deaths per 1,000 drivers; and Google trends on automobile ticket-related searches.
According to that methodology, the states with the worst drivers in the country are:
- New Jersey
There are some interesting regional patterns here. The South and Southeast regions of the US account for six of the top 10 states, with common problems including DUI and lack of insurance. Only 74% of drivers in Oklahoma are insured – the worst rate in the nation – followed by Florida and Tennessee.
Florida also tops other states in its Google searches for “speeding tickets” and “traffic tickets,” perhaps leading to its status was the worst driving state in the country.
Yet these statistics do not necessarily translate into high auto insurance rates across the board. Just two states – Florida and New Jersey – appear on Insure.com’s list of states with the most expensive premiums in 2015. Drivers in Florida pay the fifth highest premiums in the nation, with an average of $1,742 in annual payments, while New Jersey pays an average $1.595.
The entire top 10 list includes:
- Michigan: $2,476
- Montana: $1,886
- Washington, D.C.: $1,799
- Louisiana: $1,774
- Florida: $1,742
- West Virginia: $1,716
- Connecticut: $1,690
- Rhode Island: $1,656
- California: $1,643
- New Jersey: $1,595
Yet producers in states on this list say their drivers are rather poor, as well.
New Orleans insurance agent Allen Bordeaux said he’s not surprised by the figures.
“It seems it’s always pretty much been this way as far back as I can remember,” Bordeaux said. “I hear that drivers here a little bit more adventurous than in other places. They tend to run yellow lights regularly and things of that nature.”
Bordeaux said this lack of attention to detail is reflected in the policies he sells, with Louisiana being “at the bottom of the barrel for a while, as far as rates go.”
“It’s relative to where we live, the condition of the highways and streets,” he said. “It probably also has something to do with the amount of people trying to get around every day.”
There are, of course, several other factors that contribute to an auto insurance premium. In the most expensive state, Michigan, unusual no-fault auto insurance regulation drives much of the higher prices.
Unlike other states, Michigan requires drivers to carry auto insurance policies with unlimited medical benefits. Insurers pay medical claims up to $530,000 in Michigan, while the nonprofit Michigan Catastrophic Claim Association covers any additional costs.
Car owners are also required to pay an annual assessment to the association, which is currently $186 per vehicle.
Researchers with Insure.com conducted the study by compiling rates from six large insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes in every state. The rates were for a full-coverage policy for a 40-year-old man with a clean driving record and good credit. Vehicles included the 20 best-selling vehicles in the US, which represent roughly 40% of all vehicles sold. The models were rated on their “cheapest-to-insure trim level.”