The 10 Most Dangerous States To Drive In
Based on 2020 data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records more deaths per million vehicle miles traveled in these 10 states than anywhere else in America.
Despite advances in safety and road design, driving is still one of the most dangerous activities most Americans engage in on a regular basis. In 2020, there were almost 39,000 traffic fatalities in the United States, a nearly 7% increase over the year before.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracked traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled for its Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020 to provide a level playing field when evaluating the risks posed on a given state's roads, regardless of its population.
Here are the 10 most dangerous states to drive in, according to 2020 NHTSA data on the highest traffic deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled:
10. Arizona—1.60 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Arizona saw its total fatalities spike 7.7% from 2019 to 2020. In addition to an increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths (13.1%), a full third of fatal accidents involved speeding.
9. Florida—1.60 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Despite three times as many vehicle miles traveled, Florida's overall fatality increase for 2020 was a more modest 4.6%. It still managed to tie Arizona in terms of risk per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, and posted a similar increase in alcohol-impaired fatalities (12.4%).
8. West Virginia—1.66 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
West Virginia saw a very modest 2.7% total fatality increase for 2020, but 35.7% more of those deaths involved alcohol. Although top 10 in fatality rate, it's much closer to the bottom 10 in vehicle miles traveled.
7. Kentucky—1.68 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Kentucky's total number of highway deaths grew 6.6% from 2019 to 2020, with alcohol-related deaths jumping by 31.8%.
6. New Mexico—1.68 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
New Mexico matches Kentucky's fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, but total deaths are on the downswing with a 6.4% drop compared to 2019. Alcohol related deaths grew by only 4%, but speeding was involved in a full 40% of fatal accidents in 2020.
5. Louisiana—1.71 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Louisiana fatalities grew 13.9% in 2020, with 8.9% more of those tied to drunk driving.
4. Montana—1.76 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
No other state on this list had fewer vehicle miles traveled than Montana (12,892 million). And yet, total fatalities increased by 15.8%, with alcohol a factor in 45.5% more traffic deaths in 2020 versus 2019. A hefty 39% of those fatal accidents were linked to speeding.
3. Arkansas—1.88 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Arkansas saw America's greatest increase in total fatalities in 2020, with the number growing by 24.9%. That includes a 26.7% increase in alcohol-related deaths. In both 2019 and 2020, speeding was tied to 26% of accidents resulting in total fatalities.
2. Mississippi—1.90 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
The second most dangerous state to drive in, Mississippi's total traffic deaths grew by 17.1% in 2020. However, those tied to drunk driving fell by 2.4%.
1. South Carolina—1.97 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Nearly half—46%—of South Carolina's traffic fatalities are linked to speeding. A small 5.8% increase in total deaths last year came with a larger 14.1% boost in the number of fatalities associated with alcohol.