Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 15, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Some of the best states to drive in are Kentucky (politest drivers), Michigan (drivers with cleanest records), and New Jersey (fewest DUI fatalities)
  • On the other hand, South Carolina has the most traffic fatalities, Mississippi has the most uninsured drivers, and drivers in Virginia are considered the rudest
  • Insurance companies use this data to determine the price of your insurance by location

No matter where you live, you’ve probably heard it said that your state has either the best or worst drivers — sometimes, it’s both.

When it comes to the best and worst drivers by state, you can judge residents using a variety of criteria. For example, which states have drivers with the cleanest records? Which states have the most car accidents?

Knowing which state has the best drivers is helpful for more than just trivia night. Car insurance companies partially base their rates on your location. Living in a state with the best drivers can save you money on your car insurance because you’re less likely to file a claim.

Read on to learn how drivers in your state compare, and you can see how your location affects your insurance prices by shopping around for quotes.

Which state has the best drivers?

It’s easy to say your state has the best (or worst) drivers in the nation. While it’s easy to say the drivers in your state are the best, determining which state has the best drivers in 2020 and beyond is a little trickier.

There are several criteria you can look at to get an idea of how good drivers are in your state. You can check if your state made the top cut.

Top 10 States for Clean Driving Records

An easy way to check how good a state drives is to look at driver records. The national average for a state’s driving population is 78.71% with a clean record. The following states have drivers that did better than the rest.

StatePercentage of drivers with clean recordsMost common citationPopulation
Michigan86.23%Speeding7.1 million
New York84.5%At-fault accident12.1 million
Nevada83.79%At-fault accident2 million
Mississippi83.73%Speeding2 million
New Jersey83.48%At-fault accident6.3 million
Kentucky83.41%At-fault accident3 million
Louisiana82.67%At-fault accident3.4 million
West Virginia82.62%At-fault accident1.1 million
Florida82.5%At-fault accident15 million
Arkansas82.33%At-fault accident2.1 million
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As you can see, Michigan drivers avoid citations better than all other states. Interestingly, three of the states with the cleanest records have the most expensive car insurance rates. Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida drivers might make extra effort to avoid tickets because their insurance costs so much.

On the other hand, Ohio, Iowa, and Nebraska drivers have the most citations in their driving records.

Top 10 States With the Least Drunk Driving

Drunk driving deaths seem to be gradually diminishing, but more than 10,000 Americans still lost their lives on the road. While DUIs plague some states, the following ten claim the fewest drunk driving incidents.

StateDUI arrests per 100,000 peopleDUI deaths per 100,000 people
New Jersey219.641.40
Rhode Island229.171.89
New York262.181.57
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When you look at the graph above, keep in mind that states aren’t ranked by the number of incidents. Instead, they’re listed by the number of incidents per 100,000 drivers. When you look at the numbers this way, you can see some states with large populations like Massachusetts struggle the least with DUIs.

Reversely, Wyoming has the smallest population in the country but the worst DUI rates.

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Which states have the politest drivers?

Although looking at stats is a great place to start, sometimes a simple sense of how polite drivers are on the road is what you need. Politeness on the road is determined by rude driving behaviors like failure to stop or yield, improper passing or backing, tailgating, hit-and-runs, and street racing.

Using that data, Kentucky has the friendliest drivers on the road, with less than 10 people per 1,000 committing rude behaviors when they get behind the wheel.

Taking second and third place are Mississippi and Vermont.

On the other end of the spectrum, the following 10 states have a reputation for bad behavior on the road.

  • Wisconsin
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Delaware
  • Ohio
  • Georgia
  • Wyoming
  • New York
  • Idaho
  • Virginia

Virginia drivers take the top spot in citations for rude behaviors with higher rates of hit-and-runs, tailgating, and failure to yield.

You might think that the rudest states have the highest police-to-civilian ratios to explain why those drivers get more citations. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. While Virginia has one of the highest ratios, Idaho has one of the lowest.

What state has the worst drivers?

When you’re sitting in traffic, or you just got cut off on your way to the store, you’ll probably declare that the drivers in your state are the worst. However, which state has the worst drivers in 2020 and beyond?

As with the best drivers, there are several ways to determine which state has the worst drivers in 2021. From car accidents to driving without insurance, you should be extra careful driving in the following states.

Top 10 States With the Most Traffic Fatalities

The worst scenario for traffic incidents is death. Unfortunately, serious injuries that lead to fatalities are all too common in car accidents.

When it comes to fatal traffic accidents, the following are the top 10 worst drivers by state.

StateFatalities per million miles driven
South Carolina1.83
West Virginia1.51
New Mexico1.43
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The graph above ranks states by their fatal accidents per million miles driven. States with larger populations tend to have more fatal accidents. For example, Texas has the most fatal accidents in the U.S. and the second-largest population.

Massachusetts has the fewest fatal accidents per million miles driven, while Rhode Island and Vermont have the fewest actual fatalities.

Top 10 States With the Most Uninsured Drivers

While insurance is required by most states, not everyone follows the law. Uninsured motorists pose a problem to other drivers because they usually can’t pay for the damage they cause in an accident. Below are the states with the most uninsured drivers.

  • Mississippi (29.4% uninsured)
  • Michigan (25.5% uninsured)
  • Tennessee (23.7% uninsured)
  • New Mexico (21.8% uninsured)
  • Washington (21.7% uninsured)
  • Florida (20.4% uninsured)
  • Alabama (19.5% uninsured)
  • Arkansas (19.3% uninsured)
  • California (16.6% uninsured)
  • Rhode Island (16.5% uninsured)

The states with the most insured drivers are New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York. Interestingly, the two states that don’t require insurance (Virginia and New Hampshire) aren’t in the bottom. In fact, New Hampshire has the sixth-most insured drivers in the nation.

To combat the dangers of uninsured or underinsured motorists, you can purchase special insurance coverage. Some states require a minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage, but you can easily find it even if your state does not.

Get the Best Insurance for Your State

While everyone has their guess about which state has the best drivers, 2021 numbers give a clearer picture. It becomes a little more obvious why insurance costs more in some states when comparing how drivers behave behind the wheel.

Now that you know which state has the best drivers, you can compare insurance rates from multiple companies to find the best prices in your location.