The Best and Worst States to Drive in

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After years of decline, American drivers are getting back on the road in record numbers.

According to AAA spokesperson Julie Hall, “Americans drove 3.1 trillion miles in 2015, which was an all-time record and 3.5 percent higher than in 2014.The great American road trip is back, largely due to cheaper gas prices.”

Driving increases during the summer, with many motorists gearing up for a road trip adventure. In preparation for road trip season, CarInsurance.com used eight metrics to rank which states are the best and worst for drivers. Minnesota and Utah top the list, while Oklahoma and California sit at the bottom. Utah and Minnesota lead the nation, ranked at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. California scored the worst at No. 50, with Oklahoma at No. 49.

Carinsurance.com ranked each state based on these factors:

  • Insurance: Percent car insurance is of median household income
  • Uninsured drivers: Estimated percent of uninsured drivers
  • Traffic fatalities: Annual traffic deaths per 100,000 population
  • Roads: Percent of roads in poor/mediocre condition
  • Bridges: Percent of bridges deemed structurally deficient
  • Repair costs: Estimated extra cost of car repair due to driving on bad roads
  • Gas: Average price of a gallon of gasoline
  • Commute delay: Yearly delay, in hours, per auto commuter in state’s most congested city
  • Byways*: Number of federally designated byways (the umbrella term for the collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation that includes National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads)

*Used as a tie-breaker

Weighted rankings were calculated on the following factors:

  • Annual traffic deaths per 100,000 based on IIHS data – 20%
  • Average annual insurance cost as percent of median household income, based on Carinsurance.com and U.S. Census Bureau data – 20%
  • Percent of roads in poor/mediocre condition – 20%
  • Estimated cost per motorist in state to repair roads and bridges based on U.S. DOT data – 10%
  • Average price of gallon of gas, based on AAA Fuel Gauge Report – 10%
  • Yearly delay per auto commuter based on Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard – 10%
  • Percent of bridges deemed structurally deficient – 5%
  • Estimated percent of uninsured drivers based on Insurance Information Institute data – 5%

The Best and Worst States to Drive in
State Rank Insurance Uninsured
Drivers
Traffic
Fatalities
Roads Bridges Repairs Gas Commute
Delay
Utah 1 2.34% 5.8% 8.7 25% 15% $197 $2.07 37 hours
Minnesota 2 2.65% 10.8% 6.6 52% 12% $250 $1.91 47 hours
New Hampshire 3 2.06% 9.3% 7.2 54% 32% $259 $2.01 15 hours
Virginia 4 2.14% 10.1% 8.4 47% 26% $254 $1.89 45 hours
Vermont 5 2.42% 8.5% 7 45% 33% $424 $2.09 17 hours
Indiana 6 3.56% 14.2% 11.3 17% 22% $225 $1.98 43 hours
Iowa 7 2.33% 9.7% 10.3 46% 26% $381 $2.01 12 hours
Maine 8 2.64% 4.7% 9.8 53% 33% $245 $2.11 14 hours
Nevada 9 3.55% 12.2% 10.2 20% 14% $233 $2.44 46 hours
North Carolina 10 2.09% 9.1% 12.9 45% 31% $241 $1.95 43 hours
Nebraska 11 2.60% 6.7% 12 59% 25% $282 $2.03 32 hours
Ohio 12 2.80% 13.5% 8.7 42% 25% $212 $1.98 41 hours
Georgia 13 4.01% 11.7% 11.5 19% 18% $60 $2.01 52 hours
Delaware 14 4.90% 11.5% 12.9 36% 21% $257 $1.93 11 hours
Hawaii 15 1.54% 8.9% 6.7 49% 44% $515 $2.60 50 hours
Kentucky 16 4.24% 15.8% 15.2 34% 31% $185 $1.98 43 hours
Alaska 17 2.27% 13.2% 9.9 49% 24% $359 $2.28 37 hours
Missouri 18 2.71% 13.5% 12.6 31% 27% $380 $1.82 43 hours
Idaho 19 2.83% 6.7% 11.4 45% 20% $305 $2.09 37 hours
North Dakota 20 2.95% 5.9% 18.3 44% 22% $237 $1.97 10 hours
Massachusetts 21 3.09% 3.9% 4.9 42% 53% $313 $2.03 64 hours
Wyoming 22 2.85% 8.7% 25.7 47% 23% $236 $1.98 11 hours
Alabama 23 4.74% 19.6% 16.9 25% 22% $141 $1.85 34 hours
Tennessee 24 4.14% 20.1% 14.7 38% 19% $182 $1.87 45 hours
South Carolina 25 3.88% 7.7% 17.1 40% 21% $255 $1.83 41 hours
Arizona 26 3.32% 10.6% 11.4 52% 12% $205 $2.13 51 hours
Kansas 27 3.00% 9.4% 13.3 62% 18% $319 $1.87 35 hours
Texas 28 4.05% 13.3% 13.1 38% 19% $343 $1.87 61 hours
Maryland 29 2.63% 12.2% 7.4 55% 27% $422 $2.05 47 hours
Montana 30 3.89% 14.1% 18.8 52% 17% $184 $2.00 12 hours
Illinois 31 2.73% 13.3% 7.2 73% 16% $292 $2.07 61 hours
Florida 32 5.52% 23.8% 12.5 26% 17% $128 $2.05 52 hours
Connecticut 33 3.45% 8.0% 6.9 73% 35% $294 2.16% 49 hours
New Mexico 34 3.59% 21.6% 18.4 44% 17% $291 $1.90 36 hours
West Virginia 35 4.77% 8.4% 14.7 47% 35% $273 $2.02 14 hours
New York 36 3.54% 5.3% 5.3 60% 39% $403 $2.18 74 hours
South Dakota 37 2.92% 7.8% 15.9 61% 25% $324 $2.02 15 hours
Colorado 38 2.93% 16.2% 9.1 70% 17% $287 $1.96 49 hours
Oregon 39 3.15% 9.0% 9 65% 23% $173 $2.18 52 hours
Arkansas 40 4.28% 15.9% 15.7 39% 23% $308 $1.84 38 hours
New Jersey 41 3.91% 10.3% 6.2 68% 36% $601 $1.87 74 hours
Washington 42 2.80% 16.1% 6.5 67% 26% $272 $2.29 63 hours
Pennsylvania 43 2.93% 6.5% 9.3 57% 42% $341 $2.20 48 hours
Rhode Island 44 3.80% 17.0% 4.9 70% 57% $467 $2.08 43 hours
Michigan 45 6.80% 21.0% 9.1 38% 27% $357 $1.99 52 hours
Mississippi 46 5.23% 22.9% 20.3 51% 21% $419 $1.84 38 hours
Wisconsin 47 3.23% 11.7% 8.8 71% 14% $281 $2.01 38 hours
Louisiana 48 6.65% 13.9% 15.9 62% 29% $408 $1.86 47 hours
Oklahoma 49 5.25% 25.9% 17.3 70% 25% $425 $1.80 49 hours
California 50 4.26% 14.7% 7.9 68% 28% $586 $2.78 80 hours

How states scored for driving conditions

Good road conditions, inexpensive gasoline and car repairs, low-priced car insurance, and low traffic deaths and delays all earned points for states towards the top of the list. Utah scored high in insurance costs, where only two percent of the median household income is spent on car insurance, while Californians spend four percent. A whopping 68% of California’s roads are listed as being in poor condition, but only 25% of Utah’s roads rank the same. New Jersey has the highest cost for road repairs, at $601 per driver, with California just behind at $586 – Utah is a paltry $187. Sunny California also has the longest traffic delays and the most expensive gasoline in the nation.

Percent of roads in poor/mediocre condition

The results are scattered for states with the highest and lowest percentage of roads in poor/mediocre condition. There wasn’t one particular area that had very bad or very good roads. At 73%, Illinois and Connecticut tie for the highest percentage of rough and potholed roads. Drivers in Indiana and Georgia enjoy lots of smooth tarmac, at 17% and 19% respectively.

How much bad roads impact car repair costs

Drivers everywhere have to shell out to fix their cars when bad road conditions damage their cars. New Jersey residents pay an average of $601 annually, and California residents spend $586. On the flip side Floridians spend $128, and Georgians just $60 per year.

Hourly commuter delay per year

Coastal states seem to be the worst for commuter traffic, while midwestern states have the fewest delays. Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute partnered with INRIX to create the Urban Mobility Scorecard which measures how many hours per year a commuter is delayed by traffic in the state's most congested city. Los Angeles, California is the worst, at 80 hours per year, with Newark, New Jersey, and New York City tied at 74 hours annually. Drivers in North Dakota and Wyoming rarely see traffic delays, with 10 and 11 hours respectively.

Percent of annual median income spent on car insurance

We used the average car insurance rates by state as a basis for our calculations of the percent of median annual household income spent on car insurance.At nearly seven percent spent on car insurance annually, Michigan and Louisiana are the most expensive. Michigan’s annual median income is $52,005, with average annual car insurance of $3,535. In Louisiana, median income is $42,406, with $2,819 spent on insurance.

In New Hampshire median income is $73,397 and $1,514 is spend on car insurance – about 2% of total. Hawaii residents earn $71,223, and spend $1,095 on car insurance on average – that’s only 1.54%.

Driver survey: almost 25% hate driving; ‘dread’ driving

1000 drivers surveyed by Carinsurance.com gave their answers about the best and worst parts of driving, and how they feel about driving in general. Drivers have this kind of experience when running errands and commuting:

  • I find it very enjoyable: 32%
  • I find it stressful but don't dread it: 25%
  • I find it super stressful and I dread it: 24%
  • I don’t think too much about it either way: 19%

The most bothersome factors contributing to negative feelings behind the wheel are:

  • Traffic: 50%
  • Other drivers’ bad behavior behind the wheel: 48%
  • Poor physical road conditions, such as potholes: 39%
  • Poor infrastructure, such as poorly planned intersections: 31%
  • Road or bridge construction: 30%
  • Expensive car insurance rates: 25%
  • Inclement weather: 21%

Conversely, motorists say these factors contribute to a more relaxing driving experience:

  • Majority of roads maintained: 48%
  • Lots of scenic routes: 45%
  • Good weather: 34%
  • Cheap car insurance rates: 32%

Use this data next time you're planning a road trip.

This article is adapted with approval from carinsurance.com: http://www.carinsurance.com/Articles/best-worst-states-driving.aspx


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