If you just read that headline and thought, “only fourth?” you’re not alone. Drivers from various states have earned the dubious title of worst in the nation over the years. This one, however, is based on data from a website where drivers nationwide can compare auto insurance rates. Sine drivers are constantly entering information into the website’s database about their driving habits, recent citations, DWI arrests and other risk factors, the website offers an unusually full picture of driver behavior across the U.S.
The website compared each state’s drivers based on per capita DWI arrests, speeding tickets, citations for careless driving, failure to comply with traffic signals, seat belt compliance, and number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. It also considered information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Motorists Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The state with the worst drivers? Louisiana. The Pelican state was followed by South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
It’s not a scientific study by any means, of course, and similar studies disagree. In 2011, National General Insurance (formerly GMAC) found Washington, D.C., to have the worst drivers based on their understanding of the rules of the road. That survey found that only 71 percent of DC drivers could pass a written driving test in the capital. In 2010, the website the Daily Beast examined NHTSA on fatal accidents in which driver error was noted as a factor. That analysis ranked North Dakota, Montana, Kentucky and Louisiana as the worst.
On a more positive note, insurer Allstate found the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, had the safest drivers this year, based on its own claims data.
Of course, personal experiences differ. One New Jersey bus driver, who has logged 230,000 miles behind the wheel of his personal vehicles alone, told USA today that his state’s drivers truly deserve a higher ranking.
"I see people driving with no lights on in pitch black, in snow, rain, fog," he told reporters. "People tailgate me on my school bus. People blow through stop signs. It's unbelievable. New Jersey's got to be No. 1 or No. 2 for worst drivers."
Wherever they occur, we all know that car accidents caused by poor driving habits often lead to avoidable tragedies. If there has to be a competition for worst drivers, let’s shoot for the bottom.
Source: USA TODAY, “Which state has the worst drivers?” Larry Copeland, Dec. 16, 2013