Buckle Up: States with the Most Car Accidents
You’ve been taught to keep your eyes on the road, never drive drowsy, and leave your phone on silent. However, while this may come as common sense to you, some drivers in these states could apparently use a few reminders.
Along with “stranger danger” and “stop, drop, and roll,” looking both ways before crossing the street is one of the first lessons, safety-related or otherwise, that toddlers ever learn. This is thanks to the unfortunate reality that our roadways are a hazardous place. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were over 34,000 traffic accidents in 2017, resulting in over 37,000 deaths.
Not only do accidents cause costly damage and injuries at the time they occur, but they can also drive up insurance rates for years to come. That’s why it’s important to compare car insurance companies before purchasing a policy. If features such as accident forgiveness are important considerations in your coverage, you want to find the carrier that provides these options at the best rate.
While car accidents are a nationwide problem, these hazards are not evenly distributed. Some states see more than their fair share of collisions, so the team of analysts at Insurify, an auto insurance quotes comparison site, scoped out the data to find the top ten states with the highest accident rates.
- National averages. In the United States as a whole, approximately 12 percent of car owners have an at-fault accident in their past and 11.4 of 100,000 deaths are attributable to car wrecks.
- The more is not the merrier. Hotspots for high accident rates also tend to be urban areas where many cars share a limited number of roadways. Many of the states with the most crashes are concentrated along the ultra-urbanized Eastern seaboard. It may come as no surprise that with all of those drivers, more collisions are bound to occur.
- The fewer the accidents, the deadlier. The devil is really in the details on this one. While some states may be inclined to hold up their low accident rate as a marker of safety, there is actually a moderate inverse correlation between the share of drivers who have caused an accident and the rate of accident fatalities in a state. The fewer crashes there are, the more severe they tend to be. In populated areas with high accident rates, many collisions are low speed, and while they may dent a few bumpers, all parties usually walk away with their lives intact. However, on more sparsely populated roadways, wrecks tend to be more extreme.
To find the states with the highest rates of accidents, the data science and research team at Insurify, a website to compare auto insurance quotes, turned to its database of over 1.6 million car insurance applicants. As part of the quoting process, drivers disclose their driving record, including whether or not they’ve had an at-fault accident within the past seven years. Comparing these accident-prone drivers to the total pool of car owners gave the ratio of motorists with a history of accidents for each state. Statistics on fatal crashes and their associated death rates originate from the 2017 Fatality Facts report released by the IIHS, and data on seat belt use is from the Traffic Safety Facts 2017 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 13.76%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 210
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 11.9
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 85.9%
Despite its reputation for hospitality in the American Heartland, Nebraska is home to a sizeable share of drivers that have shown themselves to be less than hospitable on the roads. As a state that is less densely populated than many of the others on this top 10 list, Nebraska obeys the trend that when collisions do occur on less crowded roads, they tend to be more severe. However, while Nebraska’s car crash death rate is one of the highest of this top 10 ranking, it is statistically nearly indistinguishable from the national mean of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 13.85%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 260
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 7.7
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 90.3%
Connecticut is located along the densely populated Northeastern corridor, and most of its residents drive as opposed to taking public transportation to work according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Therefore, Nutmeg State car owners spend a substantial amount of time on the road in close proximity to other vehicles on a daily basis. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to accidents. Nearly 14% of Connecticut drivers report a history of accidents, at a rate 15% higher than the national average.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 13.88%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 247
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 8.8
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 88.8%
In many capacities, Utah is home to very run-of-the-mill drivers. Its rates of speeding, DUI, license suspension, and seat belt use are all near to the national average. However, in spite of this, the Beehive State is home to some of the most accident-prone drivers in the country. Despite this poor ranking, it nonetheless has the tenth lowest accident fatality rate in the nation, suggesting that even when Utah drivers do get into all of those accidents, most of them are just fender-benders.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 14.35%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 96
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 7.5
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 91.4%
Car owners in Hawaii would be happy to tell you that “island time,” where everyone moves between engagements at their own carefree pace, is a romanticized fantasy. They have things to do and places to be just as much as the rest of us. So much so, in fact, that Hawaii is the eighth speediest state in the entire country. All of this rushing between point A and point B often catches up with them, though—Hawaii has the seventh highest prior accident rate nationwide.
6. New Hampshire
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 14.68%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 98
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 7.6
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 67.6%
New Hampshire is best known for its rugged individualism and beautiful New England landscapes. However, one surprising fact about the “live free or die” state is that it’s in the top 15 nationwide for the presence of law enforcement officers, according to the FBI 2017 Crime in the United States report. Yet, in spite of this elevated police population, New Hampshire is still both within the top 10 states in the country for prior accident rates and at the very bottom of the ranking for seat belt use. It seems that the threat of a state patrolman around every corner is not a sufficient deterrent to dissuade New Hampshire drivers from the reckless driving that has put them in the number six slot for accidents in America.
5. South Carolina
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 15.26%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 924
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 19.7
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 92.3%
Breaking into our top five is South Carolina, a state with a handful of standout statistics. For one, an average of 2.5 fatal car accidents occur in the Palmetto State per day—one of the higher rates in the country. Beyond that, with an accident fatality rate 72 percent higher than the national average, South Carolina has the third highest traffic death rate in the country. These sobering figures may in part be due to the fact that the state has the highest share of speeders in the entire country, with a proportion 1.5 times the rate in the U.S. as a whole.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 16.09%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 163
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 12.9
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 88.9%
Maine has the second highest car crash fatality rate of any state on this top 10 ranking, at nearly 13 deaths out of 100,000. Most of the states listed here are well-populated, with greater congestion and lower wreck-related mortality rates than Maine. Correspondingly, the accidents in these states are likely often lower-stakes, rush-hour collisions. Maine, on the other hand, spends an average of 12 percent less time commuting than the national average, according to the United States Census Bureau, and it ranks within the top 15 states nationwide for DUI convictions. This suggests that Maine’s traffic incidents are less likely to be low-harm collisions and more likely to be perilous accidents than the other states on this list.
3. Rhode Island
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 16.24%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 76
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 7.8
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 88.3%
Rhode Islanders have a lot for which to be proud—the state is among the best nationwide for low rates of DUI, license suspension, and crash-related deaths. That being said, residents shouldn’t start celebrating too quickly. Rhode Island motorists are nonetheless the third most likely to report a history of wrecks nationwide. That’s a lot of money in vehicle repairs and expensive car insurance premiums down the drain.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 16.29%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 336
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 5.1
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 73.7
Massachusetts motorists will be the first to tell you that driving in the Bay State is neither fun and games nor a courtesy contest. Scraped exteriors and fender-benders are a routine part of navigating Boston during peak congestion. That said, chipped paint and fatal crashes are far from the same thing; and in Massachusetts, the latter is the exception, not the rule. Mass has the second lowest traffic mortality rate in the U.S., with only five of 100,000 deaths attributable to accidents in the state. However, that is not to say the data only paints a pretty picture for the state, as it has the second highest rate of accidents and the second lowest rate of seat belt use in the entire country. Shape up, Massachusetts.
- Percentage of drivers with prior at-fault accident: 16.67%
- Number of fatal crashes in 2017: 511
- Accident-related deaths per population of 100,000 in 2017: 9.1
- Seat belt use among vehicle occupants: 92.1%
Maryland is home to fewer car owners than the second-ranked state on this list, Massachusetts. However, the Old Line State has seen nearly double the number of fatal accidents, averaging more than a death a day. With the second-longest commutes in the country, Maryland drivers spend a great deal of time on the roads every day, so—perhaps unsurprisingly—those drivers find themselves caught in a traffic mishap more often than any other car owners in the country.
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