Which state has the worst drivers in America and what other states comprised the top 10 list? Conversely, which states have the best drivers in the county? A study published in December of 2013 answered these questions in their best and worst drivers list.
The study based their results on five law-enforcement related data sets using several sources including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Each data set or category ranked the states from best to worst and then combined the category rankings to create a total score. The five categories include:
- Fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
- Failure to obey citations issued for traffic signals, seatbelts, etc.
- Drunk driving citations
- Number of tickets issued
- Careless driving citations
The rankings for the states, including the District of Columbia, with the worst and best drivers are:
States with the Worst Drivers
States with the Best Drivers
|District of Columbia
What the study doesn’t answer is why? There are a few guesses as to what impacted the states with the worst rankings; warm weather (8 of the top 10 are “southern” states), but they were guesses. The facts are none of the data sets were able to tie the scores to drunken driving, licensing laws for teens or accident prone drivers.
Since the study couldn’t provide us with a conclusion, I’ll venture out and offer my own guesses as to why Texas ranked fourth worst among all the states. I believe there are four factors that are interrelated:
- Population Growth
- Congested freeways and roads
- Road conditions and construction
- Commercial traffic
Texas’ population continues to grow at a rapid rate; the Dallas / Fort Worth area alone grew by over 108,000 people from July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013. With that level of population growth, comes more cars, trucks, and SUVs on our already overstrained roads and freeways. More people with more cars means more accidents.
In order to accommodate the greater number of drivers and their vehicles, the level of road construction in Texas is going gangbusters. While the road and freeway construction is needed, it turns out that accidents rise in areas where road construction occurs. In essence, the solution to our growth becomes a contributing factor to accidents.
If you’ve driven from Dallas to Austin, San Antonio, or points further south on Interstate 35, the amount of traffic has grown exponentially, especially among interstate truck traffic. A big reason for the growth is tied to the passage of NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement, in 1987. I expect Interstate 45 to grow along a similar trajectory as the Port of Houston completes preparations for the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015.
Mix all these factors together and I believe the amount of traffic in Texas will only grow making our construction projects outdated from the moment they are completed. The cycle of accidents and citations only promises to grow which will trickle into the rates we pay for car insurance. I’m not sure what the complete answer is but at some point, Dart and other mass transit systems across our state are going to have to grow at an even more rapid pace.
What do you think? Share your thoughts, solutions, and questions with us in the comments section of our blog or on our Google + and Facebook pages. I’d love to hear from you!