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: Apr 13, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • The worst cities to drive in are determined by car accident rates, traffic violations, and traffic-related arrests, such as driving while intoxicated
  • California is the home state of three cities with the worst drivers
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, houses the worst drivers in the United States and makes nearly 4,500 DUI arrests per year

Everyone has experienced run-ins with bad drivers. However, some cities have drivers that pose a greater risk on the road. While there are bad drivers everywhere, some cities have more than others. It can be hard to know if your city has a lot of bad drivers or if you are simply unlucky enough to run into a few bad apples.

The cities listed here have the worst drivers. The worst drivers are those who drive under the influence, get distracted behind the wheel, and get into more car accidents than in other cities. Steering clear of these cities can save you money on car insurance premiums and a lot of headaches on the road.

Car accidents cause a hassle for everyone involved. Not only do car insurance premiums increase after a car accident, but you may find yourself needing other car insurance companies to find a more affordable premium.

Use your ZIP code in our free car insurance comparison tool to find the rates that work best for you and your driving needs.

What city has the worst drivers in the United States?

Las Vegas, Nevada, is the most dangerous and notorious city in the United States for irresponsible drivers, car accidents, and drunk driving arrests. With nearly 2,000 DUI arrests for every 100,000 residents, Las Vegas holds the crown for the highest number of drunk driving incidents and arrests in the United States.

Car insurance prices rise by over 50% with only one DUI arrest, bringing premiums up by several thousand dollars annually. In just one year, nearly 4,500 people have been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Las Vegas.

Due to the number of drunk drivers in Las Vegas, car accidents are more frequent there than in other cities in the United States.

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The Worst Cities for Drivers

Some of the worst cities in the United States for driving include large cities known for their dense population. Because these cities house a significantly higher number of people than other cities, these areas are prone to higher risks of car accidents and traffic violations than other areas.

However, some smaller cities have notoriously poor drivers without a large population. For example, Gillette, Wyoming, is a small city but boasts a high rate of DUI arrests.

Las Vegas, Nevada

As mentioned, Las Vegas, Nevada, has the worst drivers in the country. Alongside a high rate of DUI arrests, car accidents are also common. As with most population-dense cities, car accidents can be hard to avoid.

Las Vegas saw 314 fatalities from car accidents in 2020 and 349 in 2021. These large numbers are likely to be preventable with defensive driving strategies and enhanced awareness, and contributed to Las Vegas being named one of the worst cities for driving.

Gillette, Wyoming

A surprising find on a list of the worst drivers in the United States, Gillette, Wyoming, has an abundance of DUI arrests and car accidents that are entirely avoidable. Compared to the small size of Gillette, Wyoming, the DUI arrest record is high. In Gillette, 68 people out of every 1,000 have a DUI on their driving record.

Additionally, statewide, Wyoming has 40 fatalities per year.

Fresno, California

In addition to being notorious as a city of bad drivers, Fresno is one of the most deadly cities to drive in. Fresno police officers arrest nearly 1,200 people every year for driving while intoxicated, and have a car insurance premium increase of 99% for every DUI arrest. This premium increase could have irresponsible drivers paying over $3,600 for minimal coverage options.

Costa Mesa, California

Costa Mesa is a beautiful city but houses some of the worst drivers in the United States. Nearly 50 drivers per every 1,000 Costa Mesa residents have a DUI on file. Additionally, this small area has frequent car accidents. Many of these accidents result in fatalities.

After a driving citation, traffic incident, or car accident, insurance premiums in Costa Mesa can rise significantly and may have negligent or irresponsible drivers paying more than $3,500 yearly on minimal coverage.

Austin, Texas

Austin is a culturally-abundant city and holds some of the most lauded music festivals and nightlife activities in the state. However, it is also a hotbed for negligent and reckless driving. With more than 4,000 DUI arrests per year, Austin residents can see their car insurance premiums rise by up to 35% after a DUI arrest.

Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas, is famous for the Space Center and the launchpad of several space missions. Unfortunately, Houston has attracted some of the worst drivers in the country. Houston police departments make around 6,100 DUI arrests annually, making it the city with the most annual DUI arrests in the United States. This figure is more than several other cities’ DUI annual arrests statistics combined.

In Houston, drivers involved in a DUI arrest or negligent driving incident can see their car insurance premiums rise by about 35%.

Ventura, California

Ventura is another beautiful California city with poor drivers and a high population. Like Costa Mesa, California, Ventura has high annual DUI arrest rates. For every 1,000 residents in Ventura, about 50 of them have a DUI on their driving record.

Statewide, California sees nearly 1,100 fatal car accidents every year due to drunk driving.

Sioux City, Iowa

Iowa is a small state, and Sioux City is a tiny area with a smaller population than many cities listed here. However, the number of drivers with a DUI charge on their driving record per 1,000 residents is about 45. For such a small population, this number is very high.

However, unlike the other cities listed, Iowa only sees 85 drunk driving fatalities every year. While this number is still too high, it is much smaller than the nearly 350 that Las Vegas sees yearly.

Rapid City, South Dakota

The number of drunk driving fatalities in South Dakota may be one of the smallest in the United States at 45 annually. However, nearly 50 residents in every 1,000 in Rapid City have a DUI charge on their driving record, making Rapid City one of the top 10 cities with the worst drivers.

Indianapolis, Indiana

As a medium-sized city, Indianapolis is a surprising area to have the worst drivers by city. With more than 2,000 DUI arrests per year, Indianapolis remains one of the cities with the worst drivers in the United States since 2019.

Because of these drunk driving arrests, Indianapolis residents can see their car insurance premiums rise by nearly 50% upon arrest for a DUI.

Commute Cautiously and Safely

Encountering a reckless driver may not only damage your vehicle, but can result in higher car insurance premiums in some cities. Cities like Las Vegas, Nevada, and Costa Mesa, California, are rife with DUI charges and car accidents. Not only are DUI arrest rates a problem in many of these cities, but so are car insurance premium increases and traffic violations.

Driving in cities that are notorious for having the worst drivers in the world does not have to be dangerous or scary. In these cities, people commute every day and get to their destinations safely. Increasing car insurance coverage in these cities can help assuage any issues you may find while traveling or commuting through these areas.

Car accidents can raise your car insurance premiums, but there are plenty of car insurance companies to browse. Use your ZIP code in our free car insurance comparison tool to see which car insurance company has the best offers for your driving needs.