The 25 Most Dangerous Cities for Drivers [+Car Theft Rates]

Driving is a way of life for most Americans. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that there are more than 120 million vehicles used for commuting, and research conducted by Gallup found that 83 percent of adults drive at least several times per week. Even though driving is one of the most popular modes of transportation, it’s not without risk.

Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that in 2017, driving was responsible for 37,133 fatalities. Adjusted for population, that’s 11.4 driving fatalities for every 100,000 people in the U.S.

Driving has long been a leading cause of death among teens—young drivers have less experience and are more likely to engage in risky driving behavior. There has been a slight rise in traffic fatalities over the past five years, but the longer term trend shows that fewer people are dying as a result of car accidents.

chart showing dip in traffic fatality rates

Despite safety improvements over the past 25 years, certain times of the day and week are still more dangerous than others for drivers. Car accidents can occur at any time, but data from the NHTSA shows that fatal accidents are more likely to occur on nights and weekends. In 2017, there were 70 percent more fatal accidents between 6-9 PM than between 6-9 AM. Likewise, compared to Monday-Thursday, Friday-Sunday saw 25 percent more fatal crashes per day.

 

chart showing nights and weekends are the most dangerous times to drive

Timing is not the only factor that influences traffic fatalities; location matters too. The likelihood of getting into any car accident is higher in urban areas, but the likelihood of being involved in a fatal accident is higher in rural areas. According to the IIHS, only 19 percent of Americans live in rural areas and 30 percent of the miles traveled by vehicles occur in rural areas, but almost half of traffic fatalities happen in these locations. Within rural areas, crash deaths are also more likely to occur on local and collector roads rather than on interstates.

 

heat map showing higher fatality rates in rural AmerciaAccording to the Federal Highway Administration, rural collector roads and local roads may not be fully paved or have clearly delineated directions of travel, increasing the likelihood of collision. In addition, the speed limit on rural roads is usually higher than on urban roads, and crashes that occur at higher speeds can be more severe. These factors are compounded by limited (or delayed) access to health care services in many rural areas.


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Collisions aren’t the only danger for drivers. Cars are also subject to theft—a crime that cost Americans about $6 billion in 2017. The good news is that vehicle thefts have also been trending down over the past two decades. In 2017, the number of vehicle thefts nationwide was about a third lower than what it was in 1998 and the rate of vehicle thefts per 100,000 people was nearly halved.

Bar graph showing decline in motor vehicle thefts in the past several yearsSimilar to motor vehicle accidents and fatalities, location is a big determinant in the likelihood of having a car stolen. Most car thefts occur in Western states, such as New Mexico, Nevada, and California. By contrast, states in the Northeast, such as Vermont, Maine, and New York, tend to have lower rates of motor vehicle theft.

Heat map of US showing the West has highest rates of vehicle theft

When considering the likelihood of collision, traffic fatalities, motor vehicle thefts, and inclement weather, some cities are more dangerous for drivers than others. To identify the most dangerous cities for drivers, researchers at CarInsuranceCompanies.com used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Allstate’s America’s Best Drivers Report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program, and the National Centers for Environmental Information Comparative Climatic Data to create a composite score for each of the largest U.S. cities based on the following factors:

  • Motor vehicle fatality rate (50%)
  • Relative collision likelihood (30%)
  • Motor vehicle theft rate (10%)
  • Annual days with precipitation (10%)

Only the 183 most populous cities in the U.S. with available data from all of the sources were included. Here’s what the study found:

Key Takeaways

  • Nationwide there were 37,133 fatalities in 2017, resulting in a fatality rate of 11.4 per 100,000 people. Among major cities, that number ranges from a low of 0.6 in Cary, NC to a high of 27.9 in Charleston, SC.
  • Across the entire U.S., the average driver experiences a collision once every 10.6 years. That ranges from a high of 14.9 in Brownsville, TX to a low of 4.2 in Baltimore, MD.
  • According to data from the FBI, there were over 770,000 reported motor vehicle thefts in 2017, or 237 per 100,000 people. The car theft rate ranges from 31.6 in Naperville, IL to over 1,375 in Albuquerque, NM.
  • Several cities in the South, Midwest, and California are among the most dangerous 25 cities for drivers. More specifically, four cities from the list are from California, four are from Florida, and four are from Texas.

The Most Dangerous Cities for Drivers

Orlando, Florida

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#25 – Orlando, FL

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 13.2 per 100k people (37 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 15.3% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 495 per 100k people (1,387 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 117
  • Population: 280,258
Fresno CA skyline from freeway 41/180 interchange

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#24 – Fresno, CA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.6 per 100k people (61 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 31.9% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 529 per 100k people (2,789 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 45
  • Population: 527,422
Portland, Oregon

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#23 – Portland, OR

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 7.4 per 100k people (48 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 51.0% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 1,126 per 100k people (7,295 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 153
  • Population: 648,121

RELATED
Regardless of your vehicle, we can help you find the right auto insurance policy. Our analysts have put together everything you need to know about specific insurance policies like USPS car insurance or occasional use car insurance.


he view over San Bernardino from Hwy 18 on a clear, hot summer's day in Los Angeles, California, USA

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#22 – San Bernardino, CA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 10.1 per 100k people (22 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 41.8% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 1,049 per 100k people (2,277 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 38
  • Population: 216,983
Fort Worth, Texas

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#21 – Fort Worth, TX

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 12.6 per 100k people (110 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 29.7% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 309 per 100k people (2,706 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 79
  • Population: 876,060
Cincinnati skyline and historic John A. Roebling suspension bridge cross Ohio River.

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#20 – Cincinnati, OH

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 8.6 per 100k people (26 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 47.6% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 493 per 100k people (1,485 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 132
  • Population: 301,305
Houston, Texas

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#19 – Houston, TX

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 10.6 per 100k people (245 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 38.0% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 501 per 100k people (11,596 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 103
  • Population: 2,313,230
Aerial view of highway and cityscape of Pomona at California

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#18 – Pomona, CA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.8 per 100k people (18 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 34.0% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 817 per 100k people (1,250 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 27
  • Population: 152,946
Hollywood, Florida

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#17 – Hollywood, FL

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 14.3 per 100k people (22 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 14.9% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 329 per 100k people (505 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 145
  • Population: 153,625
The Texas flag flies from the front porch of an arts and crafts home in the Dallas neighborhood of Lower Greenville

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#16 – Mesquite, TX

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.1 per 100k people (16 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 38.4% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 590 per 100k people (849 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 79
  • Population: 143,822
Hialeah pinned on a map of Florida, USA

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#15 – Hialeah, FL

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 12.5 per 100k people (30 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 26.0% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 286 per 100k people (685 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 138
  • Population: 239,682

DID YOU KNOW?
Age is one of the strongest predictors of car insurance premiums. For example, the average cost of teen car insurance is much higher than the national average. The cost of car insurance for 22-year-old males is also particularly high.


Beautiful City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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#14 – Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 16.7 per 100k people (30 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 6.8% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 514 per 100k people (925 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 145
  • Population: 180,071
Charlotte, North Carolina

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#13 – Charlotte, NC

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 12.0 per 100k people (103 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 35.9% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 305 per 100k people (2,622 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 112
  • Population: 859,052
Memphis, Tennessee

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#12 – Memphis, TN

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 15.2 per 100k people (99 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 16.8% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 614 per 100k people (4,002 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 108
  • Population: 652,231
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA Skyline

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#11 – Springfield, MA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.0 per 100k people (17 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 81.7% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 329 per 100k people (509 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 100
  • Population: 154,763
Louisville, Kentucky, USA skyline on the river.

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#10 – Louisville, KY

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 14.3 per 100k people (89 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 16.2% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 622 per 100k people (3,864 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 124
  • Population: 621,337
Sacramento, California

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#9 – Sacramento, CA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 13.7 per 100k people (69 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 40.0% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 542 per 100k people (2,718 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 57
  • Population: 501,890
Downtown skyline of the city of Cleveland, Ohio

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#8 – Cleveland, OH

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 13.7 per 100k people (53 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 18.9% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 881 per 100k people (3,395 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 156
  • Population: 385,552
New Orleans, Louisiana

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#7 – New Orleans, LA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.2 per 100k people (44 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 49.1% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 644 per 100k people (2,531 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 114
  • Population: 393,292
Atlanta, Georgia

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#6 – Atlanta, GA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 11.3 per 100k people (55 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 49.4% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 678 per 100k people (3,297 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 115
  • Population: 486,299
Downtown St Louis, MO with the Old Courthouse and the Gateway Arch at sunrise

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#5 – St. Louis, MO

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 18.1 per 100k people (56 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 22.4% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 879 per 100k people (2,713 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 110
  • Population: 308,626
Detroit, Michigan Evening Panoramic

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#4 – Detroit, MI

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 15.3 per 100k people (103 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 22.8% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 1,212 per 100k people (8,155 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 135
  • Population: 673,103
Dallas, Texas

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#3 – Dallas, TX

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 14.5 per 100k people (194 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 46.5% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 590 per 100k people (7,913 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 79
  • Population: 1,341,103
City Hall in Savannah, Georgia GA

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#2 – Savannah, GA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 15.7 per 100k people (23 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 37.8% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 642 per 100k people (940 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 110
  • Population: 146,449
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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#1 – Baton Rouge, LA

  • Motor vehicle fatalities: 23.1 per 100k people (52 per year)
  • Relative collision likelihood: 55.1% above average
  • Motor vehicle thefts: 440 per 100k people (991 per year)
  • Annual days with precipitation: 113
  • Population: 225,370

Methodology

To identify the most dangerous cities for drivers, a composite score was calculated based on the following factors:

  • Motor vehicle fatality rate (50%)
  • Relative collision likelihood (30%)
  • Motor vehicle theft rate (10%)
  • Annual days with precipitation (10%)

Using data from:

Only the 200 most populous cities in the U.S. were included in the analysis. Of those 200 cities, 17 were removed because of missing data across one or multiple data sources. For a complete set of results for all cities, see the chart below.

Complete Study Results

RankCityTraffic Fatality RateAnnual Traffic FatalitiesCollision LikelihoodVehicle Theft RateAnnual Vehicle TheftsDays with Precipitation
1Baton Rouge, LA23.152+55.1%440991113
2Savannah, GA15.723+37.8%642940110
3Dallas, TX14.5194+46.5%5907,91379
4Detroit, MI15.3103+22.8%1,2128,155135
5St. Louis, MO18.156+22.4%8792,713110
6Atlanta, GA11.355+49.4%6783,297115
7New Orleans, LA11.244+49.1%6442,531114
8Cleveland, OH13.753+18.9%8813,395156
9Sacramento, CA13.769+40.0%5422,71857
10Louisville, KY14.389+16.2%6223,864124
11Springfield, MA1117+81.7%329509100
12Memphis, TN15.299+16.8%6144,002108
13Charlotte, NC12103+35.9%3052,622112
14Fort Lauderdale, FL16.730+6.8%514925145
15Hialeah, FL12.530+26.0%286685138
16Mesquite, TX11.116+38.4%59084979
17Hollywood, FL14.322+14.9%329505145
18Pomona, CA11.818+34.0%8171,25027
19Houston, TX10.6245+38.0%50111,596103
20Cincinnati, OH8.626+47.6%4931,485132
21Fort Worth, TX12.6110+29.7%3092,70679
22San Bernardino, CA10.122+41.8%1,0492,27738
23Portland, OR7.448+51.0%1,1267,295153
24Fresno, CA11.661+31.9%5292,78945
25Orlando, FL13.237+15.3%4951,387117
26Newark, NJ9.126+32.0%8392,392122
27Greensboro, NC16.247+11.9%292846111
28Garden Grove, CA10.318+53.7%37765736
29Jackson, MS16.127+8.7%447747109
30Charleston, SC27.939+12.6%217303107
31Jacksonville, FL16.3145+8.4%3282,925114
32Mobile, AL16.832-8.40%6621,259120
33Salem, OR10.618+17.3%507861144
34Albuquerque, NM1584+5.3%1,3767,68459
35Phoenix, AZ15.3249+13.6%4717,65335
36Anaheim, CA9.634+48.8%4401,55233
37Milwaukee, WI11.870+6.7%9245,503125
38Knoxville, TN15.529-8.30%5531,036127
39Bridgeport, CT7.511+52.8%488716120
40Bakersfield, CA13.752+12.9%7292,77737
41Tampa, FL13.552+17.2%147567107
42Little Rock, AR10.621+19.9%5691,130104
43Indianapolis, IN11.296+11.0%5724,904127
44San Antonio, TX9.7146+29.0%4546,86481
45Shreveport, LA12.524+11.6%46188499
46Nashville, TN10.268+19.4%3852,565120
47Garland, TX819+48.4%34181079
48Oklahoma City, OK14.996+0.6%4352,80082
49Stockton, CA9.329+27.4%6602,04955
50Dayton, OH11.416+5.6%439616134
51Fontana, CA9.420+31.4%41688138
52Fort Wayne, IN14.136-2.30%209532132
53Oakland, CA6.628+67.6%1,2925,49566
54Waco, TX13.919+12.1%14019179
55Tulsa, OK11.747+3.0%8603,46091
56Austin, TX8.480+39.1%2192,07984
57Torrance, CA8.212+49.5%29743635
58Columbus, GA12.424+3.1%363704109
59Grand Rapids, MI816+27.4%183363146
60Baltimore, MD5.433+152.4%8455,171116
61Tacoma, WA6.113+33.9%9772,086149
62Hayward, CA6.210+54.4%1,1221,80165
63Salt Lake City, UT1020+7.8%9401,88692
64Santa Ana, CA7.224+47.7%5931,98036
65Oceanside, CA11.420+15.9%28149633
66Tempe, AZ13.525+6.9%25647337
67Columbus, OH6.658+31.7%4744,176138
68Philadelphia, PA5.994+66.9%3475,483118
69Killeen, TX11.717+3.9%38956673
70Buffalo, NY6.617+33.7%322833167
71Norfolk, VA7.819+25.5%293718117
72Riverside, CA7.926+28.2%5281,73030
73Fayetteville, NC11.925-0.50%198415111
74Los Angeles, CA6.4257+81.9%48019,19335
75Amarillo, TX1326-8.00%49499070
76Tucson, AZ11.964-1.70%4492,40751
77Lexington, KY10.935-3.90%3951,273133
78Providence, RI5.510+70.8%322580125
79Glendale, AZ9.724+14.7%4711,16330
80Chattanooga, TN9.517-3.40%7491,342120
81St. Petersburg, FL10.628+2.8%37297897
82Rochester, NY7.215+22.8%296616162
83Grand Prairie, TX7.715+32.4%25549570
84Springfield, MO10.217-7.70%1,1761,969109
85Miami, FL9.142+4.5%3961,835133
86Paterson, NJ6.19+33.3%424631123
87Lancaster, CA9.415+16.2%40565029
88Spokane, WA7.416+14.4%8001,737112
89Arlington, TX6.827+39.9%3431,36070
90Moreno Valley, CA7.716+25.8%5591,15830
91Palmdale, CA8.914+23.7%27643527
92Toledo, OH8.323+10.6%269745134
93Newport News, VA8.916+12.1%272488109
94Las Vegas, NV745+26.7%1,2768,18626
95Syracuse, NY7.711+13.9%259371172
96Fremont, CA6.415+41.2%36886565
97Washington, DC4.531+142.2%3672,545114
98Modesto, CA6.113+34.2%6591,41256
99Pittsburgh, PA5.316+41.9%225680154
100Plano, TX720+37.2%11933981
101Worcester, MA4.38+105.5%214397134
102Vancouver, WA5.710+22.2%6051,063168
103Long Beach, CA5.827+45.4%5812,72934
104Pembroke Pines, FL7.613+16.6%182310122
105San Jose, CA4.345+44.6%7798,068108
106Wichita, KS9.537-6.60%6342,47886
107Corpus Christi, TX11.437-8.40%22573176
108Huntsville, AL9.719-21.10%5351,046116
109Aurora, CO7.126+15.0%5962,18987
110Omaha, NE8.138-3.00%7503,500100
111Escondido, CA7.211+25.6%26239842
112Chicago, IL5.4147+28.0%42611,578126
113Seattle, WA4.130+37.4%5013,630156
114Denver, CO749+13.5%7895,56087
115Durham, NC7.821+10.5%284762105
116Irving, TX512+50.7%29671179
117Boston, MA3.826+116.4%1761,205127
118Clarksville, TN7.812+1.2%157241128
119Reno, NV8.421-6.10%5751,43251
120Akron, OH7.114-0.10%382755156
121Thornton, CO811-3.90%53973972
122Miramar, FL5.78+18.3%185260145
123Colorado Springs, CO8.439-12.00%4602,13589
124Pasadena, CA4.26+54.6%25235943
125Minneapolis, MN417+28.9%5652,388115
126San Francisco, CA2.825+55.5%5474,83467
127St. Paul, MN3.912+28.9%6802,084110
128Fullerton, CA4.36+53.2%27538633
129Sunnyvale, CA4.67+44.3%19429864
130Honolulu, HI4.917+15.6%1,0293,60693
131Orange, CA6.49+19.6%24334136
132Alexandria, VA2.54+69.8%171273114
133Chesapeake, VA7.518+1.1%104250117
134North Las Vegas, NV4.110+39.2%5441,32122
135Boise, ID9.321-22.60%15334690
136Rancho Cucamonga, CA6.812+17.8%20736827
137Corona, CA4.88+32.4%33355930
138Glendale, CA3.47+98.9%15631743
139San Diego, CA5.274+24.6%3625,13541
140Salinas, CA5.18+14.4%7881,24257
141Tallahassee, FL6.312-0.50%389744114
142Jersey City, NJ5.214+19.7%181491107
143Montgomery, AL714-7.50%423844107
144Irvine, CA4.312+40.3%7019434
145Des Moines, IA613-1.90%5791,260108
146Ontario, CA47+32.9%51891127
147El Paso, TX7.350+1.8%11780048
148Fort Collins, CO7.913-16.10%12520787
149Lakewood, CO5.89-1.80%7701,19378
150Cape Coral, FL7.614-13.60%93170111
151Mesa, AZ7.939-8.90%17888435
152Santa Rosa, CA5.19+14.9%23441181
153Bellevue, WA1.42+27.9%214309157
154Virginia Beach, VA5.625+7.5%102459117
155Anchorage, AK4.814-5.40%1,0553,104115
156Santa Clarita, CA4.710+25.1%19441029
157Pasadena, TX4.67+14.0%24737988
158Rockford, IL5.48-3.10%303450118
159Frisco, TX3.46+28.5%478482
160Yonkers, NY1.53+26.1%90182126
161Chula Vista, CA4.111+18.3%28176132
162Port St. Lucie, FL5.811-10.70%4687142
163New York, NY2.4207+19.8%675,735120
164Sioux Falls, SD47+10.1%26546997
165McKinney, TX2.24+26.2%8515575
166Laredo, TX6.918-18.80%6517061
167Brownsville, TX6.512-29.30%7714172
168Elk Grove, CA2.95+18.1%12321160
169Eugene, OR35-2.60%323545140
170Huntington Beach, CA36+16.2%19138535
171Scottsdale, AZ615-9.10%9824630
172Joliet, IL23+7.3%112165121
173McAllen, TX5.68-14.90%324648
174Naperville, IL23+8.5%3247114
175Aurora, IL24+5.9%87176116
176Henderson, NV3.310+7.8%21264127
177Madison, WI3.59-13.20%169432121
178Peoria, AZ4.27-2.50%14123734
179Overland Park, KS4.28-15.00%14327466
180Chandler, AZ3.910-5.70%14737228
181Gilbert, AZ3.38-1.60%5613530
182Cary, NC0.61-12.10%4372113
183Olathe, KS2.23-16.50%11115298

*the traffic fatality and vehicle theft rates are for every 100,000 state residents