With inflation jumping to 6.5% in 2022, the cost of driving in the US is also rising in many respects. Since our country is so vast, and with airlines struggling to provide enough workers to keep planes in the air, more Americans are hitting the road by car to travel around the country. If you’re wondering which states offer drivers the best experience, we have the answers.
You probably know that certain states have better road and bridge infrastructure and lower fuel costs than others. Of course, there are many other factors to consider when comparing the cost of driving. For example, many people also consider low auto insurance prices to be favorable.
To create this comprehensive index, we analyzed data collected from reputable sites that studied a variety of pain points, including:
- The condition of each state’s interstate system and traffic congestion problems,
- Average gas prices compiled by AAA,
- Fatal car accident statistics, broken down by state reports, and
- Typical car Insurance premium costs for similar coverage plans.
Based on this information, we can see which states rank better than others for specific categories and overall driving benefits.
Why Would You Want to Know Which States Are The Best To Drive In?
Our society is a car-focused culture. We drive to work, to our children’s activities, for vacation and entertainment, and simply for the joy of being on the open road. However, not every trip or destination is created equal. Because of this, knowing about road safety and basic driving costs can be crucial.
Knowing which states are objectively the best and worst to drive in can save you some hassle and expense. Considering costs like insurance rates and fuel prices can be critical if you are traveling extensively or intend to move somewhere.
High traffic congestion levels might be especially important to point out because when you sit in traffic, you use more fuel, and more pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Because of this, already high fuel prices can have a more significant negative impact in some places. Additionally, the pollutants can negatively impact your overall health, especially if you already experience respiratory issues.
Our Data Analysis Methods
To create an index that determines which states are the best to drive in, we have considered the following factors:
- Number of annual fatal car accidents on average
- Number of overall car accidents per year
- Average car insurance rates
- Traffic congestion levels (measured by the percentage of each state’s interstates considered congested)
- Average fuel cost
Each of these categories was included in our index, which orders the states from best to worst. It’s worth noting that there are some cases where states score high in one category but very low in another. This often evens things out, so it’s worth taking a look at specific categories like fuel and insurance costs depending on what is most important for your needs.
Which States Are The Best To Drive In?
Here are the five best states for you to drive in based on all of the factors we considered:
- Vermont - Index Score 1.00 (total score 2.42)
- Alaska - Index Score 0.93 (total score 2.25)
- Wisconsin - Index Score 0.92 (total score 2.22)
- Indiana - Index Score 0.90 (total score 2.18)
- North Dakota - Index Score 0.89 (total score 2.15)
Vermont’s car insurance rates are among the lowest in the country, with an average of $1,158.00 per year, and there are an average of 44 fatal car accidents in the state annually. This state also has very low traffic congestion levels – 7% compared to Florida’s 70%. It’s important to note that Vermont’s population is just under 624,000 people, while Florida has more than 21,000,000 residents.
On the negative side of the scale, Vermont’s fuel prices are within the top 15 most expensive states, coming in at $3.55 as opposed to Texas’ gas price of only $3.13. Compared to the prices in tourist destinations like Hawaii and California, however, these prices are not bad.
So, while insurance and fatalities rates are low, it’s worth noting that fuel prices in Vermont are no bargain. Similarly, Alaska has an average of just 64 car fatalities a year and has low insurance costs ($1,350.00), but the average fuel price is high at $3.77. Both states have very low traffic congestion levels, with Alaska ranking only 4 – the lowest in the country.
Which States Are The Worst To Drive In?
These are the five worst states for you to drive in based on the factors we have considered:
- Maryland - Index Score 0.54 (total score 1.31)
- Kentucky - Index Score 0.51 (total score 1.23)
- Delaware - Index Score 0.43 (total score 1.05)
- California - Index Score 0.36 (total score 0.86)
- Florida - Index Score 0.34 (total score 0.83)
California is first, and Florida ranks third in the nation for the highest average number of fatal car crashes per year. California reports 3,316 crash deaths per year, while Florida car accidents claimed 2,950 lives. Nestled between those numbers is Texas, with an average of 3,294 fatalities per year. However, Texas managed to avoid ranking in the overall five worst states (taking the #8 spot) due to its low gas prices, lower congestion levels, and its larger population.
Florida also has among the highest average car insurance rates at $2,560.00, while California’s average rate comes up to $2,115.00. California has the worst traffic congestion rate of 87%, Maryland comes in second place at 83%, with Florida rounding out the top five with 70% of interstates considered congested.
Considering the Fuel Cost Alone
States such as Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas have the lowest fuel prices in the country, with average prices starting at $3.13 and going up to $3.96. At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive states for fuel costs include Hawaii, California, Washington, Nevada, and Alaska. Among these states, the most expensive fuel reached an average price of $4.94.
The three most expensive states to buy fuel are noticeably popular tourist spots, which may have a significant impact on the cost of gas. Not only that, but in Hawaii specifically, there is an increased distance from things like refineries, and importing consumer goods is expensive.
In the cheapest states, like Texas, prices are low because there are refineries throughout the state. As such, fuel doesn’t have to travel, and prices remain low.
The best states to drive in based on population, fatal and non-fatal accidents, car insurance prices, congestion, and fuel prices are Vermont, Alaska, and Wisconsin. The worst states in the same categories are Florida, California, and Delaware.
The lowest-scoring states rank in the top five for most expensive car insurance, with Florida at $2,560.00 and California at $2,115.00. Combined with the high congestion levels, high fuel cost, and the high number of annual accidents, these states qualify as the most dangerous and expensive in the nation.