Roads in the United States aren’t as busy these days, with much of the country still under some form of lockdown and many people still electing to work from home. Pictures of completely empty New York City streets from March—an occurrence that would have been nearly unimaginable just a few months ago—are perhaps the most emphatic example of decreasing mobility. In fact, though New York is in the process of re-opening, the most recent mobility reports indicate that visits to workplaces were still down 20 percent from pre-quarantine levels after being more than 40 percent down at certain points in May.

One benefit of reduced traffic has been a decrease in accidents and other driving violations. In fact, traffic fatalities in New York City are down a little more than 30 percent compared to 2019 figures. A clean driving record can be one small silver lining for many people who have been stuck at home for the past few months.

Of course, there are also many drivers around the United States who don’t require extended periods of time with little to no driving to hold a clean record and keep the roads as safe as possible. Eager to recognize some of these motorists, the data science team at Insurify decided to take a closer look and identify which states have the drivers with the cleanest records.

Insights

  • National averages. In total, 23.83 percent of drivers have committed at least one moving violation. Additionally, 12.46 percent of drivers have an at-fault accident on their record, and 11.67 percent have been cited for speeding. Across the country as a whole, there were 11.2 vehicle related fatalities per 100,000 motorists as of 2018, and 227,558,385 licensed drivers.
  • A cross-country problem: The data shows that there’s no specific region of the country that produces good drivers, with states on both coasts, the Midwest, and the South represented in the top 10. If anything, there appears to be a slight Eastern tilt—seven of the 10 states on the list are located in the Eastern half of the United States, with an eighth right in the middle.
  • More drivers doesn’t mean more violations: One might think that more licensed drivers in a state might lead to more crowded roads, more opportunities for accidents, and thus a proportionally larger share of the population with moving violations on their record. This is especially true of smaller, more densely populated states like New York, and Massachusetts. However, the data shows no significant relationship between the number of drivers in a state and the proportion of the population with a prior driving violation. What’s more, there was also no significant correlation between population density (defined as the total population divided by the total area in square miles) and the proportion of the population with a prior driving violation.

Methodology

To determine which states boast the best drivers, the data science team at Insurify gathered some information from it’s database of over two million car insurance applications. To apply for car insurance quotes, interested motorists input personal and vehicle information, including whether they have been cited for at least one of nearly 20 different traffic violations in the past seven years, including at-fault accidents, DUIs, reckless driving, speeding, and failure to stop infractions. This data was then aggregated by location to determine which states had the lowest percentage of drivers with any kind of violation. Additional data on the number of drivers with a prior at-fault accident or speeding ticket was also gathered from the Insurify database. Information about the total number of licensed drivers in each state was gathered from the Federal Highway Administration, and the number of vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists was taken from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

States With the Best Drivers

10. Texas

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 19.88%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 9.36%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 11.14%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 17,370,383
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 12.7

Kicking off the countdown is Texas, the largest state in the top 10. The Lone Star State is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to traffic safety. It does have a rate of vehicle-related fatalities that is greater than the national average, but also has a percentage of drivers with speeding tickets or at-fault accidents that are at least 11 percent below the national average.

9. New Jersey

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 19.81%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 6.74%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 12.48%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 6,342,876
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 6.3

New Jersey, which is home to the traffic-filled New Jersey Turnpike and legions of New York City commuters, is nonetheless one of the safest states in the country to drive in. Just 6.74 percent of drivers in the Garden State have been cited for speeding, though the state has some of the country’s more lenient speeding laws—only Connecticut boasts a better percentage in that regard. Additionally, New Jersey’s rate of vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists is third-best in the country, trailing just Rhode Island and New York.

8. Arizona

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 19.77%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 9.53%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 10.18%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 5,284,970
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 14.1

In contrast to New Jersey, Arizona actually has some of the strictest speeding laws in the country, with driving in excess of 85 miles per hour or driving 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit classified as a criminal violation that is punishable with up to 30 days in jail and fines in excess of $500. Likely due in part to these strict laws, Arizona has a proportion of drivers with a speeding ticket—as well as a percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident—that is well below the national average.

7. Connecticut

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 19.71%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 5.78%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 13.76%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 2,605,612
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 8.2

Connecticut has some impressive traffic safety statistics to its name. They have the lowest percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket in the country, as well as a rate of vehicle-related fatalities well below average. Though it is not a perfect state with regards to traffic safety—their rate of drivers with an at-fault accident is more than 10 percent greater than average—it’s quite easy to see why Connecticut cracks the top 10.

6. West Virginia

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 19.31%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 8.57%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 10.83%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 1,136,775
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 16.3

Just 8.57 percent of drivers in West Virginia have a speeding ticket on their record, a figure which ranks among the 10 lowest of the 50 states. Impressively, West Virginia’s percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident is also among the 10 lowest in the nation. Interestingly enough, though, West Virginia has a rate of vehicle-related fatalities that is eighth-worst in the United States, which indicates that the Mountain State still has some work to do when it comes to traffic safety.

5. Florida

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 18.6%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 7.44%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 11.39%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 15,368,695
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 14.7

Like West Virginia, Florida’s percentage of drivers with at least one speeding ticket is among the 10 best in the nation. But, according to the Florida Highway Patrol, empty roads due to the coronavirus pandemic may have had an adverse effect on speeding. After just 144 drivers were cited for going more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit in January, 313 motorists were ticketed in April, when the roads had cleared. This kind of reckless behavior might be one of the reasons that The Sunshine State had a rate of vehicle-related fatalities well above the national average.

4. Nevada

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 17.9%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 7.64%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 10.03%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 1,983,453
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 10.9

Nevada nabs the fourth spot on the countdown, as just 17.9 percent of motorists have at least one prior traffic violation on their record and only 7.64 percent of drivers have been cited for at least one speeding ticket. Interestingly, Nevada is one of the safest states to drive in despite lacking some crucial traffic laws. According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Nevada is one of 12 states that was rated as “lagging dangerously behind” in the adoption of the group’s 16 recommended laws to improve traffic safety. The laws include measures to improve passenger safety and stamp down more on distracted driving, but Nevada has implemented only six.

3. Mississippi

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 17.82%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 10.34%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 7.98%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 2,058,036
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 22.2

Mississippi’s proportion of drivers with an at-fault accident is part of the reason they rank so highly on our list. Just 7.98 percent of drivers have been involved in a crash—only one of the 50 states has a better mark. They are also better than average in terms of the percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket. However, Mississippi also has the highest rate of vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists in the country at 22.2, a mark that nearly doubles the national average.

2. Kentucky

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 17.41%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 6.89%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 10.06%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 3,032,530
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 16.2

Just 17.41 percent of drivers in the Bluegrass State have a prior traffic violation on record, a figure which earns Kentucky the second spot on our list for the second year in a row. Kentucky also has one of the lowest percentages of drivers with a speeding ticket in the country, and it seems the state is determined to make the roads even safer. As part of a statewide campaign to reduce aggressive driving, police agencies are stepping up their presence on some of the busiest highways in the state, including I-75, as of June 2020.

1. Michigan

  • Percentage of drivers with any prior incident: 15.73%
  • Percentage of drivers with a speeding ticket: 8.17%
  • Percentage of drivers with an at-fault accident: 6.16%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2018): 7,153,645
  • Total vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 motorists (2018): 9.7

Michigan is the safest state to drive in according to our countdown for the second year running. Just 15.73 percent of drivers have a prior moving violation on their record, nearly a full 10 percent less than the second-place state, Kentucky. Michigan is also one of two states that ranks better than the national average by all measures in terms of speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, and vehicle-related fatalities. In fact, Michigan has the lowest proportion of drivers with an at-fault accident of any of the 50 states. Clearly, the state deserves its spot atop the countdown.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.