The Most Dangerous States for Driving in the U.S.

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by Quiana Darden Updated May 13th, 2022

Hopefully you never have to experience a car accident, but every time you get into a vehicle, you increase the likelihood of an accident occurring. According to News 9, 77% of drivers have been in at least one car accident in their lives, and on average, drivers file an insurance claim once every 17.9 years. 

Depending on where you live (or drive) the chances of being in an accident increase or decrease as well. So, whether you’re planning a road trip or thinking of moving to a new state, it’s helpful to be familiar with which states have the most – and the most fatal – car accidents. 

The States With the Most Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which tracks data on fatal car accidents, 33,244 fatal accidents occurred in the United States in 2019 alone. Those accidents resulted in 36,096 deaths. 

There are several ways to consider which states had the most fatal car accidents. If you look strictly at the number of accidents that resulted in traffic fatalities, then California leads the list with 3,316 accidents. 

StateNumber of Fatal Crashes
California3,316
Texas3,294
Florida2,950
North Carolina1,284
Tennessee1,040
Ohio1,039
Pennsylvania990
Illinois938
South Carolina922
Michigan902

But if you carefully review the list, you’ll notice that these states also have large populations, especially when compared to smaller states like Rhode Island. A state with a larger population would naturally expect to have more accidents than a state with a smaller population. Additionally, the amount of driving people in each state does can vary. For example, areas in New York State have well-developed public transportation systems. In New York City, many residents don’t even own cars, which means they’re not spending as much time on the road in a privately owned vehicle, so they don’t contribute to the number of motor vehicle crashes and traffic deaths in the same way as drivers in an area such as suburban Houstin, TX.

A more accurate way to get a sense of how dangerous it is to drive in certain states is to look at the data and rank the states based on the deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. 

StateDeaths Per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Mississippi1.53
New Mexico1.53
Kentucky1.48
Wyoming1.44
Oklahoma1.43
Louisiana1.42
Florida1.41
Arizona1.40
Tennessee1.37
Oregon1.37

Based on the above data, states like Mississippi and New Mexico are actually the most dangerous in terms of the number of deadly accidents that occur in comparison to the number of miles traveled. If you’re considering specifically what your chances of getting into an accident are, this is probably the data you want to focus on most. 

Car insurance rates can be high in the states where car accidents are most common. If you’re moving to a different state or just want to shop around for a new policy, Compare.com can help. With Compare.com, you simply fill out a single quote request form and we compare rates from 65+ top car insurance providers. 

Compare.com users save an average of $720 per year on their car insurance. It’s easy, and filling out the quote request form takes just five minutes. 

The States With the Least Fatal Accidents

man driving safely with his daughter in the car

While there’s a higher probability of getting into an accident if you’re in a state like Mississippi, New Mexico, or Kentucky, there are also states where the risk of an accident is reduced. Below are the 10 states with the lowest number of motor vehicle accidents resulting in deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. 

StateDeaths Per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
Massachusetts0.51
Minnesota0.60
District of Columbia0.61
Vermont0.64
New Hampshire0.73
New York0.75
Rhode Island0.75
Utah0.75
Washington0.83
Wisconsin0.85

Multiple factors likely contribute to these lower fatal motor vehicle accidents. Differences in speed limit requirements from state to state may help to keep drivers safer, and driver and passenger adherence to laws about wearing seat belts may reduce the number of accidents that end in fatalities. Weather can also play a role in the number and severity of accidents that occur. 

Why Where You Live Affects Your Car Insurance Rates

If you’re considering moving to a different state, your location can directly affect your car insurance rates. Car insurance providers consider the accident frequency of a state when determining what to charge for coverage. Since companies assume more risk when insuring drivers in the states with the highest accident frequency, insurers charge more to help protect themselves against that risk. 

Keep in mind, while the above data reflects fatal car accidents, it doesn’t include more minor accidents like fender benders, or even accidents where a vehicle was totaled but no fatalities occurred. Insurance providers may need to pay for vehicle repairs, vehicle replacement, property damage, and medical bills resulting from any of these accidents. Data on non-fatal accidents can also cause insurers to increase their rates so they can cover these expenses. 

In addition to charging more for certain high-risk states, insurance providers may also charge more depending on where in the state that you live. Rates can fluctuate for an urban or rural setting, and areas prone to high degrees of crime will also see higher insurance rates. Even the length of your commute can affect your rates, since a longer commute means you’ll spend more time on the road and will be at an increased risk of getting into an accident.

How to Save on Auto Insurance If You Have Car Accidents on Your Record

Hopefully you never get into an accident, but if you do have an accident on your record, whether it’s your fault or not, you could be looking at higher insurance rates. Even if you’ve had an accident, there are still multiple ways that you can save on auto insurance. 

Focus on Good Driving Habits

Even if you’ve had an accident, it’s still important to focus on safe driving habits. If you start getting traffic violations or are at-fault in another accident, your rates could increase again. Instead, follow traffic laws, especially when it comes to speed limits, and focus on staying safe. 

Take a Safe Driving Course

Some insurance companies will give you discounted rates if you take an approved safe driving course. These courses not only help you improve your driving, but they reduce your chance of being in future accidents. Before you sign up for a course, contact your insurance company to see if they offer this type of discount, and find out which courses they approve. 

Carefully Choose Your Vehicle

If your vehicle was declared a total loss after the accident, be strategic when you buy a new vehicle. Brand-new cars have higher values, so your insurance premiums will be higher, too. This is also true of certain makes and models, and trim levels can also increase a vehicle’s value. 

For example, luxury vehicles not only cost more to buy, but also more to repair, often because they need to be serviced by specialty mechanics and have parts that must be imported. Upgrading to a trim level that comes with an eye-catching sound system might be tempting, but that system can also attract thieves, so insurance providers may view that upgrade as a risk. 

There are some features to watch for, though. Many insurance companies will offer discounts for security equipment, like car alarms and side airbags, since this equipment can prevent accidents and theft, or it may minimize the injuries that result during an accident. These types of discounts vary from company to company, so you will want to contact your insurance company to determine what safety features might help you to get that discount. 

When it comes to buying a new car, look for a practical vehicle and try to find something affordably priced. When you’re already facing higher car insurance costs because of an accident, it’s important to avoid buying an even more expensive vehicle, which will lead to higher rates.

Ask About Additional Discounts

Don’t hesitate to call your current car insurance company and ask about any discounts that you might be able to take advantage of. This can be particularly helpful if your life circumstances have changed since you first signed up for your insurance, like if you bought a second vehicle or closed on a new house. Often, you can bundle these insurance policies together to save extra money. 

Look for a Policy with Accident Forgiveness

While it’s too late to get accident forgiveness once an accident has occurred, consider looking for a new policy that offers this perk. With accident forgiveness, your rates won’t automatically go up if you’re involved in an accident. These policies tend to cost a little more, but they can be a good investment just in case you’re in an accident again in the future. 

Work on Building Your Credit

Some insurance companies consider customers with low credit ratings to also be higher risk drivers. If your credit score is low, focus on building it up. Make all of your credit card, student loan, mortgage, and other bill payments on time. Focus on using minimal amounts of credit to improve your debt-to-income ratio. If you’ve had certain accounts, like credit cards, open for years, keep them open to establish a longer credit history. 

Building good credit takes time, but it can pay off with lower car insurance rates. Plus, if you need to buy a new vehicle, having good credit can help you qualify for a lower interest rate on a car loan.

Consider Changing Your Coverage

If your car insurance premiums have become too high for you to comfortably afford, you might consider changing your coverage. If you have full collision coverage on a vehicle, you might think about dropping that coverage, especially if your vehicle’s value has declined over time. Make that decision carefully, though, especially if you would rely on the payment from your insurance company to be able to buy a new vehicle. 

A better option might be to consider changing your policy limits or your deductible. Lowering your policy limits will leave you with less coverage, but it will also reduce your monthly premiums. If you make this change, you’ll need to make sure that you retain enough coverage to meet your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. 

Increasing your deductible can also result in lower monthly payments. With a higher deductible, you will need to pay more upfront before your vehicle is fixed or replaced. You should only consider increasing your deductible if you know you have enough money saved so that you will be able to make that larger payment if your vehicle is ever damaged or totaled. 

Shop Around for a New Policy

Don’t forget that you can always shop around for a new policy, too. With Compare.com, you can get personalized quotes from up to 65 car insurance providers. There’s no need to call up each of these insurance companies separately or fill out quote forms for each, since Compare.com gathers those quotes for you after you fill out a five-minute quote request form. By shopping around, you might find there are companies that offer you better rates. 

As you compare the different policies, be sure to look into the discounts that each car insurance provider offers. Options like multi-vehicle discounts and multi-policy discounts can help you to save money and keep the cost of your new policy lower. If your current car insurance isn’t working for you, you might be able to find a better option using Compare.com. 

FAQs About States With The Most Car Accidents

Why are car accident rates so high in some states?

Many factors affect car insurance rates, but one of those factors is how many accidents occur in that state. Car insurance providers consider accident rates within each state when evaluating the risk they’ll assume to insure drivers. If you live in a state with an unusually high amount of accidents, you’ll pay more to insure your vehicle to cover that increased risk. 

Do more fatal accidents occur in rural or urban areas?

The IIHS data reveals that, overall, more fatal crashes occur in urban settings, but not by much. In 2019, 19,595 fatal crashes occurred in urban areas, while 16,340 fatal accidents occurred in rural areas. Rural roads sometimes allow for high speeds and can have hazardous twists and turns, but urban areas are more congested, which can also lead to more car crashes and traffic fatalities.

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