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From the Florida Everglades to Arizona’s Death Valley, the 50 states are vastly different, from culture to terrain. According to Bankrate’s most recent study, the states also drastically vary in the overall experience for drivers, with the Midwest emerging as the best region for drivers. Our pick for the best state for drivers is Ohio, which boasts low gas and car insurance prices and high rates of seatbelt use. California ranked as the worst state for drivers for the fourth time since Bankrate began analyzing the driving experience across the U.S., partially due to the state’s sky-high gas and auto insurance prices.
To find the best and worst states for drivers, Bankrate’s team analyzed diverse datasets covering cost, safety, driving quality and weather in each state. We found that, overall, the best states for drivers are generally found in the Midwest. The worst states for drivers on our list vary in location but are consistently some of the most expensive states for car insurance and gas in the country.
Best and worst states for drivers
To determine the best and worst states for drivers, Bankrate’s insurance team analyzed 16 datasets from the government, nonprofits and industry groups. Each dataset fits into one of the following four categories.
- Cost: The cost subcategory encompasses the average prices for vehicle repairs, gas and auto insurance in each state. Since cost is a factor that heavily affects our everyday quality of life, our team weighed the cost the heaviest in our analysis at 45%.
- Driving quality: Driving quality encompasses factors that affect drivers on the road, including road and bridge conditions, average commute times and average time spent in traffic per year. This category is weighted equally with safety at 25%.
- Safety: Safety encompasses DUI arrests, traffic fatalities, seat belt non-use, chances of colliding with wildlife and motor vehicle theft. This category is weighted equally with driving quality at 25%.
- Weather: Weather includes average precipitation and the average number of fatalities in which rain, snow or sleet were present. This subcategory was weighted the lowest at 5% since weather patterns vary within states and are likely to be a lesser concern than overall road quality, traffic fatalities, urbanized congestion and costs associated with owning a vehicle.
Worst states for drivers
According to our research, the worst states for drivers are also some of the most expensive states for purchasing car insurance.
California comes in as Bankrate’s worst state for drivers for the fourth time. While the Golden State is home to some of the best weather in the United States and ranks reasonably well for safety, it ranks seventh for worst driving quality and is the number one most expensive state for drivers in the U.S. overall, ranking as the eighth most expensive state for car insurance and the most expensive state for gas and vehicle repairs. In addition, California clocks the most DUI arrests of any state per year, at 120,262 in 2019, the last year for which data was available.
Louisiana is quite expensive for drivers. The state’s average car insurance rates are the highest in the country, coming in at $2,724, which is $1,050 higher than the national average for full coverage. In addition to the high cost for drivers, Louisiana has a high fatality rate on state roadways and significant urbanized congestion.
Maryland is one of the worst states for drivers, primarily due to high car insurance costs and poor road and bridge quality. On average, Maryland drivers pay hundreds of dollars more per year for their full coverage car insurance than the national average. The state has a high urban congestion rate, and its infrastructure quality ranks worse than in 40 other states.
4. Rhode Island
Rhode Island ranked as the fourth worst state for drivers overall on our list and fifth worst for our driving quality metric. The state has the highest number of roads and bridges in disrepair, and Rhode Island residents spend more time in urbanized congestion than residents of 45 other states, on average. In addition, Rhode Island drivers pay more for their car insurance, spending an average of $344 more per year for full coverage car insurance than the rest of the country.
Despite being one of the best states in terms of our driving-related weather metrics, Colorado is one of the worst states for drivers. First, Colorado is one of the top ten worst states for drivers in terms of cost. Drivers in the state contend with high gas prices and auto insurance costs, with full coverage car insurance premiums averaging $342 more per year than the national average. Colorado drivers also deal with poor road quality and a higher level of urbanized congestion than the national average.
Best states for drivers
Our analysis found that the Midwest tends to be one of the best regions for drivers.
According to our research, Ohio is the best state for drivers. While Ohio ranks middle-of-the-road in the driving quality category and has an average percentage of traffic fatalities, the Buckeye State is one of the cheapest places for drivers. On average, Ohio has the second-cheapest average annual full coverage car insurance premiums in the U.S. and is the second-cheapest state for auto repairs. In addition, Ohioans are more likely to use their seatbelts than residents in most other states.
In terms of weather and safety, Iowa ranks in the middle of the pack. However, the state ranks sixth-best in our driving quality category and is the fourth-cheapest state for drivers — making it one of the best states for drivers overall. On average, full coverage car insurance in Iowa costs $467 less per year than the national average. In addition, Iowan drivers spend an average of $356.57 per year on car repairs, which is less than the average cost of annual car repairs in 45 other states.
Utah ranks in the top 10 best states for safety, driving quality and weather. The state has the fewest bridges in poor condition, relatively few traffic fatalities per year, and residents spend fewer hours in commuter congestion than in 44 other states. While gas prices in Utah are higher than in most states, Utah drivers also spend an average of $368 less per year for full coverage car insurance than drivers in the rest of the country.
Indiana ranks in the top 10 best states for safety and cost. In terms of cost, Indiana drivers pay an average of $420 less per year than the national average for full coverage car insurance.
The state also has one of the highest rates of seatbelt use in the U.S. and one of the lowest rates of traffic fatalities.
Idaho has the third-cheapest auto insurance premiums in the U.S, with the average full coverage premium coming in $629 cheaper per year than the national average. In terms of our driving quality category, Idaho ranks second. The state has the lowest percentage of roads in unacceptable condition, and residents spend the fewest hours in urbanized congestion than in any other state.
Where does your state rank?
Cost of owning a vehicle
The costs associated with a vehicle vary significantly by state, particularly for gas and car insurance. Gas prices frequently fluctuate due to global events, but on average, states with better access to oil refineries and lower taxes typically have lower gas prices across the board.
Prices for full coverage car insurance can vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars by state. Maine drivers pay only $965 per year on average for full coverage car insurance, whereas drivers in Louisiana pay an average of $2,724. Since car insurance premiums depend partially on local factors such as crash statistics and cost of living, moving to a different ZIP code – even within your own state – can affect your car insurance premium drastically, except in Michigan and California, which do not allow insurance companies to use ZIP codes as a rating factor. The table below outlines the average cost of full coverage car insurance by state.
Average cost of full coverage car insurance by state
|State||Annual cost of full coverage car insurance||Monthly cost of full coverage car insurance|
Frequently asked questions
Which state has the rudest drivers?
California, Nevada, Florida, Oregon and New Mexico have the rudest drivers in the United States, according to Bankrate’s recent analysis of data related to fatal car crashes, uninsured drivers, DUI arrests, tailgating, speeding and more.
Why are gas prices so much higher in certain states?
Texas and Mississippi typically have the cheapest gas, with prices averaging $2.82 per gallon. The most expensive state for gas is usually California, with prices reaching $4.39 per gallon. One determining factor for gas prices by state is each region’s access to oil refineries. A state like Texas, which holds 31% of the country’s oil refining capacity, has better access to fuel than a state like California, which has limited pipeline access due to its location behind the Rocky Mountains. Taxes also play a role. A state like California, which also has high taxes and programs to limit carbon emissions, maintains higher fuel prices on average.
What is the best car insurance company?
The best car insurance company will vary for every driver based on personal characteristics, policy preferences and which providers are available in your area. If you care most about getting cheap car insurance, you may want to check out companies like Geico and Amica. If you care most about high-quality customer service and claims processing, you may want to look into the best car insurance companies in your area. Talking with an independent insurance agent can help you figure out which companies might be best for you. From there, it may be helpful to compare car insurance quotes from multiple providers.
The 2021 Bankrate Best State for Drivers Study was compiled using 16 measures related to driving quality, weather, safety and cost. We used the most recently available data for all 50 states from government sources, research organizations and industry groups. For our analysis, we gave cost a 45% weighting, driving quality a 25% weighting, weather a 5% weighting and safety a 25% weighting.
We analyzed the following data sources to reach our final rankings:
- DUI arrests: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Motor vehicle theft arrests: The Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Traffic fatalities: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Seat belt non-use: CrashStats.com
- Wildlife collision: State Farm
- Average commute time: The Reason Foundation
- Average hours spent in congestion per commuter: The Reason Foundation
- Road condition: Bureau of Transportation Statistics
- Bridge condition: Bureau of Transportation Statistics
- Annual rainfall per year: BestPlaces
- Annual snow per year: BestPlaces
- Non-clear days per year: BestPlaces
- Percentage of fatalities where rain, snow or sleet was present: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration