10 States with the Most Fatal Car Accidents [2021 Study]

The 10 states with the most fatal car accidents averaged 16 fatal traffic accidents for every 100,000 residents in each state. These 10 states alone accounted for nearly 26,000 fatal car crashes between 2016 and 2018. A shocking 80 percent of the worst states are all located in the South. The fatal car crash rates (especially in the Southern states) that our study uncovered reveals a striking problem that states should address.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati.com. ...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 20, 2021

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What You Should Know

  • There were 103,227 fatal crashes in the U.S. from 2016 to 2018
  • The 10 worst states averaged nearly 2,600 annual fatal crashes
  • The U.S. death rate was 11 fatal crashes for every 100,000 residents
  • Our study found the Northeast to be the safest region in the country

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36,560. 33,654. More than $240 billion. What do these numbers mean? The answer may shock you, as they deal with a subject matter we all know but add statistics that show the extent of the problem.

  • 36,560: The number of traffic deaths in 2018.
  • 33,654: The number of fatal crashes in 2018.
  • More than $240 billion: The estimated cost of these accidents.

This article covers the 10 deadliest states with the worst car crashes. Fatal car crashes have been the norm dating back decades, with traffic deaths sometimes rising into the 50,000s. You might be surprised that the total number of deaths surpasses that of all the plane crashes in a year or being struck by lightning.

Car accidents kill more people than cancer or heart disease. It is a leading cause of death generally, but even more so for people below 30. For teens, it is the second-leading cause of death.

In this article, we examine the 10 deadliest states for motor vehicle crashes. They are, from top to bottom, the most dangerous states for you to drive through. In these states, more people die in fatal car accidents per number of in-state residents, per miles traveled, and per registered vehicle or motor vehicle. Other topics we cover are:

  • Car accident statistics by state from 2016 to 2018
  • Car accident deaths per year in the country overall
  • Traffic deaths per state for the study period

We’ll also look at fatal car accidents by year that determined our ranking and states with the most car accidents.

States with more fatal car accidents than others are likely to have higher car insurance rates due to the number (and value) of the claims the auto insurance companies receive.

If you believe your auto insurance rates are too high, researching the best auto insurance companies can help you determine which companies have rates that fit more into your budget.

Even if you live in one of the most dangerous states to drive, you can still save on auto insurance rates. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to compare live auto insurance quotes from different insurance companies.

Enter your ZIP code into our free online quote comparison tool to do just that and start saving today.

Okay, now back to the 10 deadliest states for fatal car accidents. This list might surprise you, shock you, or leave you scared to drive. Check out the ranking of the 10 deadliest states along with detailed analyses of those states below.

10 Deadliest States with the Most Fatal Car Crashes

Who are they, where are they, and just how bad are they?

These questions might be running through your mind as we start this ranking of the 10 deadliest states for car crashes. And then there’s always the huge question: Is my state on this list?

The following graphic shows the 10 worst states for fatal crashes (the ranking is the overall ranking for the study) along with each 10 worst state’s fatal crashes per 100,000 state residents.

10 Worst States - Fatal Crashes per Resident

As you can see, the fatal crashes per 100,000 state residents in our 10 worst states varied from around 14 fatal crashes per 100,000 state residents to over 20 fatal crashes in our worst state (Mississippi).

As we will go over later as well, the graphic shows very clearly which region is the most dangerous for traffic deaths out of all regions in the country.

If your state isn’t on that list, feel free to jump to our complete ranking section to check out your state’s ranking compared to other states for the topic of fatal car crashes.

The following graphic shows the second metric we used in our study: fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled. The worst of all was South Carolina with 1.7 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled.

10 Worst States - Fatal Crashes per Miles Traveled

The spread between all states in the worst 10 for fatal accidents is 1.27 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled (New Mexico) to 1.70 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicles miles traveled (South Carolina). Most states had 1.40 fatal crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled or lower.

Just four states are above that death rate: Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Those four states are in the top five of our ranking of the deadliest states for fatal crashes. This is probably the answer to the question “why is car insurance mandatory.

The next graphic shows the third and final metric we used in our study: fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles.

The state with the fewest fatal crashes per registered vehicle was West Virginia, which had 15.6 fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles. The state with the highest number of fatal crashes per registered vehicle was Mississippi, which had 29.6 fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles.

10 Worst States - Fatal Crashes per Registered Vehicle

But how do these metrics affect the ranking of our 10 worst states for fatal car crashes? We have all the details below for each state in our 10 worst state list. These states are the worst of the worst, and many have been featured on worst drivers lists year after year.

Ready? Here’s your crash course in the most dangerous states for driving in the country. Buckle your seat belt and keep your hands at “2” and “4”. Being alert is key in these states. You may never know what challenges you will face.

#10 – Oklahoma

Best Category: Per Miles Traveled
Worst Category: Per Resident

Ranked 10th in this ranking of the states with the most fatal car accidents, Oklahoma has its best category in fatal crashes per miles traveled and its worst crash per resident.

For every 100 million miles traveled in Oklahoma, there were 1.28 fatal crashes between 2016 and 2018. In that same period, there were 1,844 fatal accidents in Oklahoma overall.

In its worst category — fatal crashes per resident — Oklahoma averaged 15.6 annual fatal crashes between 2016 and 2018 for every 100,000 people.

#9 – Florida

Best Category: Per Resident
Worst Category: Per Registered Vehicle

Florida, ranked 9th in our list of the states with the most fatal crashes, has its best category in fatal crashes per resident and its worst category in fatal crashes per registered vehicle.

In the fatal crashes per resident category, Florida averaged 13.97 annual fatal accidents between 2016 and 2018 per 100,000 residents in Florida

Florida averaged an annual 17.19 fatal crashes per every 100,000 registered vehicles, making this its worst category.

From 2016 to 2018, there were a total of 8,775 fatal accidents in Florida with its cumulative population for those same years being a little above 62.8 million.

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#8 – West Virginia

Best Category: Per Registered Vehicle
Worst Category: Per Miles Traveled

Ranked 8th in this list of the states with the most fatal crashes, West Virginia has its best category in fatal crashes per registered vehicle and its worst category in fatal crashes per miles traveled.

In its best category, West Virginia averaged annually 15.62 fatal accidents between 2016 and 2018 per 100,000 registered vehicles. West Virginia averaged 1.37 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled, which was its worst category.

Overall, West Virginia totaled 795 fatal accidents between 2016 to 2018, which placed it in the bottom 40 percent of all states. Its cumulative population was just a little over 5.5 million, making it one of the states with the smallest populations as well.

#7 – New Mexico

Best Category: Per Miles Traveled
Worst Category: Per Registered Vehicle

New Mexico, ranked 7th in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, has its best score in fatal accidents per miles traveled and its worst score in fatal accidents per registered passenger vehicle.

In its best category, New Mexico averaged annually 1.27 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled. In its worst category, New Mexico averaged 19.52 fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles annually.

New Mexico isn’t horrible when it comes to fatal crashes per miles traveled. But the number jumps tremendously when fatal crashes are compared to the number of registered vehicles.

Each driver in New Mexico is perhaps driving farther than a typical driver in America, as the statistics indicate. Overall, New Mexico totaled 1,052 fatal accidents from 2016 to 2018 with a cumulative population of just a little over 83,000.

One of the factors leading to fatal car accidents affects New Mexico along with most states nationwide: speeding. Drivers going over the speed limit lead to thousands of deaths each year — to them, their passengers, and pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Speeding kills, as 44 percent of all fatal car accidents in New Mexico come from speeding, ranking the state third-worst in the nation for this category.

#6 – Alabama

Best Category: Per Miles Traveled
Worst Category: Per Resident

Ranked 6th in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, Alabama has its best category in fatal accidents per miles traveled and its worst category in fatal accidents per resident.

In its best category, Alabama averaged 1.29 fatal crashes annually per 100 million miles traveled between 2016 and 2018.

Alabama averaged 18.59 fatal car crashes annually per 100,000 persons between 2016 and 2018, one of the highest numbers in the country. That makes this category its worst.

For our study period (2016 – 2018), there were 2,719 fatal crashes in Alabama overall and a cumulative population of a little more than 14.6 million.

Fatal car accidents have many different causes, including some that have been problems for years like drunk driving, and ones that are new and are due to technology. One of the new issues facing drivers is called distracted driving and is the result of engaging in tasks unrelated to driving while behind the wheel, including using a mobile phone.

There are dangers to distracted driving, including an increased number of deaths seemingly year after year. In addition to the increased risk of getting in a car accident or killing another driver, distracted driving (in particular texting while driving) can drive up auto insurance rates, especially as it has been labeled a first offense in many states, meaning that police officers can pull people over just for doing it.

#5 – Kentucky

Best Category: Per Registered Vehicle
Worst Category: Per Miles Traveled

Kentucky, ranked 5th in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, has its best category in fatal crashes per registered vehicle and its worst category in fatal crashes per miles traveled.

In its best category, Kentucky averaged annually 16.67 fatal accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles. In its worst category, Kentucky averaged 1.45 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled annually.

Overall, fatal accidents in Kentucky numbered 2,148 between 2016 and 2018 with a cumulative population of a little over 13,351,000.

Because Kentucky is a fairly rural state, drivers face additional challenges like tough-to-navigate rural roads and highway hypnosis. These two issues can lead to single-vehicle accidents and are a major cause of death in rural areas.

Fortunately, when it comes to single-vehicle accidents and auto insurance companies, a driver with comprehensive or collision insurance will likely be covered, assuming they weren’t engaged in illegal activity like drinking and driving.

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#4 – Arkansas

Best Category: Per Miles Traveled
Worst Category: Per Registered Vehicle

Ranked 4th in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, Arkansas has its best category in fatal crashes per miles traveled and its worst category in fatal crashes per registered vehicle.

From 2016 to 2018, Arkansas averaged 1.34 fatal accidents annually per 100 million miles traveled.

Arkansas averaged 17.28 fatal accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles annually between 2016 and 2018, making this its worst category.

During that same period, Arkansas recorded 1,462 fatal accidents overall, with a cumulative population of a little over 9 million. One of the factors that affects the number of fatal crashes in a state is based on gender: males vs. females.

Male drivers are known for causing more traffic deaths and engaging in reckless or dangerous driving behavior than female drivers. In Arkansas, males cause 77 percent of all traffic deaths.

Insurance companies understand that male drivers are more likely to engage in these behaviors than female drivers and have priced their auto insurance rates accordingly. Male drivers often receive higher auto insurance rates than female drivers because they are more likely to file a claim. This is how gender can affect auto insurance rates.

#3 – Louisiana

Best Category: Per Resident
Worst Category: Per Miles Traveled & Registered Vehicle (tie)

Louisiana ranked 3rd in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes. It has its best category in fatal crashes per resident and a tie for its worst categories — fatal crashes per miles traveled and registered vehicle.

Louisiana, in its best category, averaged 15.17 fatal accidents per 100,000 persons annually between 2016 and 2018.

In its two worst categories, Louisiana tumbled a little bit. It averaged 1.43 fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled and 18.17 fatal accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles.

Overall, Louisiana registered just 2,125 fatal crashes between 2016 and 2018 with a cumulative population of a little more than 14 million.

#2 – South Carolina

Best Category: Per Resident & Per Registered Vehicle (tie)
Worst Category: Per Miles Traveled

Ranked 2nd in this list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, South Carolina has a tie for its best category — fatal crashes per resident and per registered vehicle — with its worst category being fatal crashes per miles traveled.

South Carolina averaged 18.83 fatal crashes annually per 100,000 residents. Though this was one of its best categories, it still is second-to-last of all states.

For the fatal crashes per registered vehicle category (its other best category), South Carolina averaged 21.51 fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles.

For those two categories — even though they are South Carolina’s best — South Carolina ranks second to last, making it one of the most dangerous states to drive in throughout the United States.

South Carolina’s worst category was fatal crashes per vehicle miles traveled, with 1.7 fatal crashes occurring for every 100 million miles traveled. In this category, South Carolina ranked dead last.

Overall, South Carolina recorded 2,836 fatal accidents between 2016 and 2018, with its cumulative population for those three years being a little over 15 million.

#1 – Mississippi

Best Category: Per Miles Traveled
Worst Category: Per Resident & Registered Vehicle (tie)

Mississippi, ranked as the worst state for fatal crashes in this ranking, had its best category in fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled. Two categories combined for worst: fatal accidents per 100,000 residents and fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles.

In its best category, Mississippi averaged 1.5 fatal accidents annually per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Although this is Mississippi’s best category, its ranking in this category is second-to-last.

Mississippi averaged 20.44 fatal crashes yearly between 2016 and 2018 for every 100,000 residents, higher than the nearest competitor by about 1.5 fatal crashes and the nationwide average by nine fatal crashes.

For this, it ranks dead last. But very little compares to its performance in its other worst category — fatal crashes per registered vehicle. Between 2016 and 2018, Mississippi averaged 29.57 fatal accidents per 100,000 registered vehicles annually.  This was eight fatal crashes higher than the nearest competitor and 17 fatal crashes higher than the nationwide average.

Between 2016 and 2018, Mississippi registered 1,831 fatal crashes in a cumulative population of a little less than 9 million.

One of the problems Mississippi and many other states face when trying to lower their number of fatal car accidents is the issue with teenage drivers, for whom car accidents are a leading cause of death.

Teenage drivers tend to be prone to risks like drinking and driving or being inexperienced on the road. Finding the right safe-driving tips for teens will reduce the amount of risk they have while driving.

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3-Year Trends for Fatal Car Crashes: 10 Worst States

Now that we’ve gone through our 10 states with the most fatal car accidents, it’s time to see if there are trends within the worst 10 states from year to year.

The following table shows the trend for our 10 worst states in the category of fatal crashes per resident. Another way of putting this is what trends each state has when it comes to the number of fatal crashes per 100,000 residents in the state.

10 Worst States: Traffic Death Rate per 100,000 Residents
RankState201820172016% Change
1Mississippi20.0320.3820.92-4.26%
2South Carolina19.0818.4218.980.52%
3Louisiana15.3715.0915.052.11%
4Arkansas15.6816.1916.86-6.97%
5Kentucky14.8816.1917.19-13.42%
6Alabama17.9217.7220.13-10.96%
7New Mexico16.7216.3017.26-3.10%
8West Virginia14.6915.4113.657.57%
9Florida13.7213.9514.24-3.63%
10Oklahoma15.3015.5915.99-4.32%
AverageAll States15.5615.7416.28-4.42%
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The one part for certain: When all 10 worst states are grouped, their fatal crashes per resident fell by a little more than 0.7 fatal crashes (16.28 in 2016 to 15.56 in 2018) from 2016 to 2018.

Kentucky decreased its fatal crashes per resident the most, falling 13.2 percent in that three-year time frame (17.19 fatal crashes per resident in 2016 to 14.88 in 2018).

Just three states increased their fatal crashes per resident: West Virginia, Louisiana, and South Carolina. West Virginia increased its fatal crashes per resident the most with a jump of 7.57 fatal crashes (13.65 in 2016 to 14.69 in 2018).

Now, take a look at our second metric: fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled. The following table shows each of our 10 worst states with its corresponding fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled for each year between 2016 and 2018.

10 Worst States: Traffic Death Rate per 100 Million Miles Driven
RankState201820172016% Change
1Mississippi1.471.491.53-4.42%
2South Carolina1.711.671.72-1.00%
3Louisiana1.431.431.43-0.10%
4Arkansas1.291.341.41-8.70%
5Kentucky1.341.461.55-13.38%
6Alabama1.231.221.41-12.96%
7New Mexico1.281.231.29-0.92%
8West Virginia1.361.471.286.50%
9Florida1.311.341.36-3.49%
10Oklahoma1.331.241.283.59%
AverageAll States1.361.371.42-4.30%
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Just like with our previous table, the overall number of fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled decreased from 2016 to 2018 when looking at all 10 worst states together in a group (8,690 in 2016 to 8,428 in 2018). That was a drop of 4.3 percent overall. And just like for the other metric, most of our 10 worst states improved from 2016 to 2018.

Two states were easily the most improved in the category of fatal car accidents per 100 million miles traveled: Kentucky with a 13.4 percent drop and Alabama with a 13 percent drop.

Just two states saw their fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled increase: Oklahoma and West Virginia. Again, West Virginia was the state that increased the most with a 6.5 percent rise in fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled (250 fatal accidents in 2016 to 265 fatal accidents in 2018).

Now, let’s get to the final metric we used: fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles. The following table shows this metric for each of the 10 worst states for each year between 2016 and 2018.

Fatal car crashes for the 10 deadliest states in this category fell from 2016 to 2018, following a trend across the nation.

While this is a great trend, it remains to be seen whether it holds for 2019 and 2018, as certain events like the coronavirus pandemic may have had an effect on fatal car accidents even with traffic reduced due to quarantines.

Now, scroll down to see the table showing each state’s statistics for fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles.

10 Worst States: Traffic Death Rate per 100,000 Registered Vehicles
RankState201820172016% Change
1Mississippi28.8829.6030.23-4.49%
2South Carolina21.7621.0021.76no change
3Louisiana18.4318.0518.032.22%
4Arkansas16.7517.1517.95-6.65%
5Kentucky15.2016.7918.06-15.83%
6Alabama16.5317.0917.90-7.68%
7New Mexico19.1919.6019.79-3.06%
8West Virginia15.6516.5614.666.70%
9Florida16.6617.2517.68-5.77%
10Oklahoma16.3016.3716.80-2.98%
AverageAll States17.7018.1418.62-4.94%
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When all 10 of our worst states are grouped, we can see that this was the metric in which our 10 states improved the most. While fatal crashes per resident dropped 4.4 percent and fatal crashes per 100 million miles traveled dropped 4.3 percent, fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles in our 10 worst states dropped 4.9 percent.

Kentucky, again, was the state that has the largest reduction in fatal crashes per registered vehicle at 15.8 percent. In terms of reductions, Kentucky led all states by at least 8 percent.

West Virginia was, again, the state with the largest increase in fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles at 6.7 percent. Only one other state had an increase aside from West Virginia — Louisiana at 2.2 percent. South Carolina had no movement on either end, meaning from 2016 to 2018, it had no change.

With the 10 deadliest states for most fatal car accidents, there are additional questions that drivers and their families might struggle with. One of those questions is whether your family will receive auto insurance benefits if you were to die in a automobile accident. Other questions to consider are “does your auto insurance cover medical expenses, or does insurance cover ambulance rides?”

Some after-death expenses your auto insurance company will cover include funeral costs, medical expenses, ambulance rides, or lost income. However, it depends on your personal auto insurance policy and has certain monetary limits. If you sign up for just the minimum auto insurance in your state, you may not be covered.

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Nationwide Dangerous Driving Trends: All States

We’ve taken a look at the 10 states with the most fatal car accidents as well as the three-year trends for each of those states and when combining them into a group. Now, we will look at the most fatal car accidents by state in the whole country.

The following graphic shows each state (and the District of Columbia) in the United States according to almost every category we used to form our rankings. Those are the average number of fatal crashes for the study period between 2016 and 2018, the average vehicle miles driven in that state, the average number of vehicles registered in that state, and the traffic deaths per 100,000 residents in that state.

The graphic is interactive. Hover your cursor over a state (if you’re on a desktop computer or laptop) or press down on a state with your finger (if you are on a mobile device) to see a particular state’s statistics.

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As you can see, there are large variances in the categories of average fatal crashes, average vehicle miles driven, and average registered vehicles. These statistics often reflect the population of a state. The larger that state’s population, the more average fatal crashes, average vehicle miles driven, and average registered vehicles that state will have compared to other states.

The “traffic deaths per 100K residents” statistic offers a way to compare each state to another. There you can see how one state stacked up against another even though each might have large differences in absolute values.

Because we can see the whole country in this graphic, the question that comes up quite easily is, “What regions fare better than others in the ranking?” In other words, which regions are safest to drive through?

The following table shows the four regions of the country (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) in terms of what their worst categories are as a group, as well as what each state’s average ranking is.

Fatal Car Crash Trends: By U.S. Region & Worst Category
RegionAverage RankingWorst Category
Northeast41stPer Registered & Per Residents (tie)
Midwest32ndPer Residents
South15thPer Registered Vehicles
West26thPer Miles Traveled
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First, you can see right away that some regions beat others in this study of the states with the most fatal car accidents. Here are the four regions ranked from worst to best:

  1. South
  2. West
  3. Midwest
  4. West

The South is the worst and has eight states in the worst 10 states in the country. The Northeast is clearly the best and has five states in the best 10 states in the country. The Midwest and the West are ranked second and third overall, respectively, when comparing regions.

You can also see each region’s worst category in the table. It is an indicator of what the region struggled with the most. The only tie came in the Northeast, which has a relatively balanced set of worst categories compared to the other regions (which often had one category they struggled with much more compared to other categories).

If you want details about how your state ranked compared to other states, specifically for each category, head over to our complete ranking section.

Trends Discovered and Crash Causes Uncovered

We’ve seen which 10 states were the worst for fatal crashes between 2016 and 2018. But why are they the worst and why are most of them in the South? what causes the most dangerous car accidents?

Often, there are numerous causes of fatal car accidents rather than one or even a few causes. Some of the most common fatal car accidents may environmental: poor infrastructure, for instance, which can lead to more dangerous driving conditions, or a higher number of rural roads, which are often considered more deadly than interstate or city roads. There might be cultural differences as well.

States that are the worst for fatal car crashes often have more issues than states that are considered the best in the country: a higher number of drunk driving or speeding fatal car accidents, for instance.

Or states within a region may have a higher number of motorcycle drivers, which can increase fatalities as motorcycles are more dangerous to drive, and the driver of one of them has an increased risk of death if they were to get into a crash.

We see some of the same states appear on these lists year after year, suggesting that there are larger issues in each state that aren’t being corrected year after year, which is what you’d hope for.

In those states, insurance rates might be higher than those with better drivers or fewer fatal car accidents. There are still ways, though, for you to lower your insurance rates, including a telematics system offered by many top auto insurance companies. The telematics system can save you money because it records all your driving behavior, and the better you do, the higher your discount.

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There are also many auto insurance discounts given to drivers who work to improve their driving in a defensive driving course or add more safety measures to their vehicles such as anti-lock braking systems or an anti-theft device.

Driving Campaigns, Deadly Decisions, & Legal Ramifications

To help us uncover the reasons why traffic deaths are increasing in America, we asked those who work with the accident victims  — the personal injury and wrongful death attorneys — for their perspective. In addition, we have the privilege of interviewing a truck driver with over 20 years of experience on the road.

Scroll down to read what these individuals have to say.

experts around the country

“Unfortunately, Texas has an uncommonly higher rate of fatal traffic accidents relative to miles traveled by state residents than many other states.

According to statistics published by the Texas Department of Transportation, roadway accidents in the Lone Star State had a fatality rate of 1.29 deaths per 100 million miles traveled and 3,652 total deaths, numbers that respectively ranked 16th and first among all other states.

The 2018 crash statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation show that a majority of all deadly car crashes in the state of Texas happened in rural areas. These are often on two-lane roads that resulted in two vehicles traveling in opposite directions to get into a head-on collision.

Fatal accidents also often occurred more often at intersections, during holidays, and late at night, with the latter two types of incidents often involving one or more parties driving while under the influence of alcohol.

From personal experience, I can tell you that the pain I see in a mother’s eye when her child is killed in one of these wrecks never goes away.

When a parent’s baby is killed by a drunk driver, by someone texting and driving, or just someone who did not see a motorcycle or pedestrian — the pain simply does not go away.

Neither do the consequences for the driver causing death. In many of these situations, criminal laws are violated. Intoxication manslaughter, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide are all charges that I have seen arise from fatality wrecks.

Even when no criminal charges arise, knowing that your actions caused the death of another human being causes intense emotion in most people.

While I am not in a position to tell you if the penalties in these cases are too extreme or too lax, I will tell you that fatality accidents change everyone involved for the remainder of their lives. Be careful out there.”

Lin McCrawLin McCraw is the founding lawyer and owner of McCraw Law Group.
In his 20 years as a lawyer, he’s most famous for helping auto accident victims.


“There are so many things that can lead to fatal crashes that listing them all would just take too long. From what I’ve seen, however, (other than speeding) not paying proper attention plays a big role in causing accidents.

I’m using attention as an umbrella example because there are so many different situations that cause people to lose their attention on the road.

Some reasons why people lose attention on the road include being too tired, looking at a phone while driving, and doing makeup in the mirror. People seem to forget just how dangerous the speeds we travel at can be, and not paying attention can result in fatal accidents even when we think we aren’t traveling that fast.

If we aren’t paying attention, we could veer into oncoming traffic, hit the curb and flip the car, and a number of other things. So make sure you’re awake enough to focus and simply focus on driving rather than on other things.

Drivers should not only change their own behavior but also be more aware of other drivers on the road to prevent fatal accidents.

Many fatal accidents occur as a result of other drivers, so if you’re more vigilant and cautious when it comes to those drivers, you’ll likely be able to react faster if another driver does something dangerous.

It’s also a good idea to take an advanced driving course to learn how to react in different dangerous situations.

That way you ensure you’ll react properly and avoid the accident rather than panicking and putting yourself in a bad position or harming another bystander.”

Blake HardwickBlake Hardwick represents the New York City personal injury attorney office Greenberg & Stein, PC.
This law office has over 75 years of litigation experience including fatal traffic crash claims.


“By far the most dangerous trend to appear on the roadways in the past 20 years is distracted driving. Drivers are paying more and more attention to their cellphones, tablets, and even in-car screens.

It’s become as dangerous as drunk driving. Only, unlike DUI, nearly everyone is doing it during all hours of the day. And it’s not like DUI went anywhere. Now, we have both. We need much tougher penalties for distracted driving.”

What kind of driving behavior leads to fatal car crashes?

“High speed, disregarding traffic signals, drunk driving, and distracted driving.”

What are some of the factors, other than driving, that lead to fatal crashes?

“Inexperience behind the wheel, being drunk, being distracted, rushing to get somewhere.”

In your state or city, are the deterrents for causing fatal crashes harsh enough?

“If you kill someone in a fatal crash and it’s your fault, you could be charged with manslaughter. That carries a hefty prison time, so I think those penalties are harsh enough. Most traffic fatalities are accidental. They need to create harsher penalties for the behaviors that cause accidents.”

What are some of the other punishments you’d like to see for dangerous drivers?

“License suspensions, mandatory schools, jail for repeat offenders.”

What can your community do better when it comes to preventing fatal crashes?

“It’s more of a state issue. Communities can only do so much when it comes to this. Most community efforts are centered around prevention.

Things like speed traps and DUI checkpoints. Without tougher laws on the books, drivers will continue to weigh the risks vs. rewards of breaking traffic laws and come down on the side of risk.”

What are some of the media campaigns that your city/state uses to prevent fatal crashes?

“Click it or Ticket. DUI checkpoints are advertised in local media before they are enacted.”

How does technology play a role in reducing fatal crashes or will in the future?

“Many cities have installed red-light cameras to raise revenue and to prevent people from driving through intersections against the traffic.”

What can a driver do to prevent being involved in a fatal crash?

“Practice defensive driving, wear their seatbelt, refrain from looking at their phones or texting while in motion.”

Do you have a personal story about a fatal car accident?

“Fatal accidents are a common occurrence in the city where I worked. Most of them involved someone either not paying attention or being too drunk to operate their vehicle properly. One particularly tragic accident comes to mind.

A man in his 30s was leaving a bar where he had consumed five beers and two shots of whiskey. We were later able to find out exactly what he drank from the bar’s receipts. In addition, he had been prescribed Oxycontin for a knee injury.

He left the bar drunk and turned the wrong way on a one-way road. He failed to realize that he was heading into oncoming traffic and struck a car traveling in the opposite direction head-on. No one survived the crash.

The skid marks showed that the other vehicle had attempted to stop, but the drunk driver never touched his breaks. The other vehicle was occupied by a family of three.

The relative speed for the occupants at the time of the accident was approximately 80 mph. I’ll never forget the indelible violence that the crash imprinted on the two vehicles.”

Jimmy FasigJimmy Fasig is a personal injury attorney at Fasig Brooks Law Offices.
He is a published author of a life success guide and the managing partner at his law firm.


What kind of driving behavior leads to fatal car crashes?

“The biggest current cause of fatal car accidents is distracted driving. In Orlando, Florida, a close second is the ongoing and major road construction, which has spanned several years with no end in sight and includes some of our busiest roadways.”

What are some of the factors, other than driving, that lead to
fatal crashes?

“Besides distracted driving, for regular vehicles, I would say road construction and/or bad weather. Also, as a fatal accident lawyer who has reviewed many deaths caused by semi-trucks on the road, I am personally terrified of driving anywhere near semi-trucks.

Police officers will tell you that often when a semi-truck was involved in an accident, they are handling a fatality, rather than an injured victim.

The reason is that the sheer weight and volume of these 18-wheelers means that regular vehicles have almost no chance of not being completely crushed, with any significant impact.

Even worse, because 18-wheeler drivers travel many hours every day, and are prone to boredom while driving, they are constantly tempted with many dangerous distractions, including their phone, office, or dispatches, but also laptops, streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, and even video recording while driving — like if they have a vlog, which some of them do.

This isn’t totally to blame semi-truck drivers. Many of them are outstanding drivers, and a regular vehicle does something foolish near them, like cut in front of them, when they need more time to stop because they have air brakes, and much more weight to stop. They can also be tired or sick, which are other potential problems.”

In your state or city, are the deterrents for causing fatal crashes harsh enough?

“In Orlando, Florida, I’m not aware of any significant deterrents, other than criminal and traffic violation penalties, which I really don’t think are effective enough.”

What are some of the other punishments you’d like to see for dangerous drivers?

“The most important way to take care of the victims of these dangerous drivers is to require all drivers to carry much more insurance than they currently do, in any state, but especially in Florida, where most drivers aren’t required to carry one penny in insurance money for victims of their bad driving, from other vehicles.

As far as criminal penalties, which do very little, if anything, to help the victim, those seem sufficient to me. I seriously doubt any greater criminal penalties would make any difference.”

What can your community do better when it comes to preventing fatal crashes?

“In Orlando, Florida, they need to greatly speed up the construction throughout downtown.

Also, I think we need much stronger media campaigns to explain the dangers of reckless driving, speeding, distracted driving, driving without a seatbelt, etc.”

What are some of the media campaigns that your city/state uses
to prevent fatal crashes?

“I really have seen very few, if any, over the last several years. We need to do better. The reason might be that I’m more of an online consumer of content, rather than traditional television or radio. So, they need better online media campaigns.”

How does technology play a role in reducing fatal crashes or will in the future?

“Vehicles are increasingly equipped with all sorts of electronic crash avoidance systems. Unfortunately, some drivers become less vigilant, it seems to me, when they believe that their car will save them from all of these potential problems.

At least with technology so far, including self-driving vehicles, we still must be diligent on the roadways, with the driving human paying close attention.”

What can a driver do to prevent being involved in a fatal crash?

“The biggest things a driver can do to avoid fatal accident are:

Never drive when too tired or intoxicated. Do not use electronic devices while driving, or engage in other distracting behavior (including eating while driving).

Another way to avoid fatal crashes is to drive defensively. For example, be aware that another vehicle could come into your lane, head-on, and drive cautiously enough that you could normally respond to that kind of unexpected calamity.

Avoid semi-trucks, or other large commercial vehicles, preferably by slowing down, changing lanes, and allowing them to pass. You never want to stay right next to a semi, or even in front of a semi, for very long.”

Tina WillisTina Willis is a serious injury and wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, Florida.
She is a former law professor and has been an attorney for over 13 years.


What kind of driving behavior leads to fatal car crashes?

“Improper merging: With all the things people need to do, most of them are in a hurry. As a result, they forget how to properly merge. A lot of people race in front of other drivers, making it difficult for others to properly adjust speed.

Calling Or texting while driving: Most drivers are guilty of using their phone while driving nowadays. However, being distracted while you’re behind the wheel can be fatal.

Complete disregard Of traffic signs: Some people blow through stop signs or yield signs even when needed. People like this end up hitting another vehicle or pedestrian.”

What are some of the factors, other than driving, that lead to fatal crashes?

“Slippery roads: The roads can be slippery if the weather gets bad. Ice, snow, and rain can create dangerous surfaces and cause your vehicle to skid or spin out of control.

Fatigue: You need to give your 100 percent attention when driving, and if you’re fatigued, it can be impossible to do so. You may also end up falling asleep behind your wheel.

Impaired vision: Fog, the dark, or other causes that hinder you from getting enough light can result in you becoming visually impaired. Driving will require your ability to see and not knowing what’s in front of you can be dangerous.”

In your state or city, are the deterrents for causing fatal crashes harsh enough?

“I am from Los Angeles, California, and our city has implemented enough deterrents. We have speed limits, strict implementation of seat belt requirements, and other traffic rules.”

What are some of the other punishments you’d like to see for dangerous drivers?

“Retaking of driving lessons: One of the reasons why people become reckless drivers is because they have forgotten the basics. Taking driving lessons again will allow people to relearn everything they know.

Longer license suspension: 30 days of not being able to drive may not be enough for most people to realize the implications of their actions. The lengthier the suspension, the more they can appreciate their driver’s license.

Heftier fines: The amount of money people pay differs widely according to their offense and location. However, if they know that they’ll be needing to pay a lot more, they’ll be more careful when driving.”

What can your community do better when it comes to preventing fatal crashes?

“Decrease traffic speed: One of the reasons that people get involved in car crashes is because of overspeeding. Our city would need to build more speed humps and increase the number of low-speed zones.

Have spaces dedicated for pedestrians: Plenty of pedestrians get injured or die on public roads. Our community needs to have more pedestrian-only streets that only cyclists and strollers can only access.

Build more streets: To accommodate the increasing number of motorists, more roads are needed. If there are plenty of streets, traffic will lessen and will less likely drive faster than necessary.”

What are some of the media campaigns that your city/state uses to prevent fatal crashes?

“Informing everyone about the rush hour: Being informed about the traffic will aid people in navigating the ins and outs of Los Angeles. The rush hour can take a toll on someone who’s in a hurry, causing them to lose focus.

Road condition updates: Knowing what to expect will help people be more prepared when driving. They can secure their vehicles by adding snow chains.

Daily news: News can help people stay informed, especially if there are any road accidents or crashes. They will know what roads to avoid and where they can be safe.”

How does technology play a role in reducing fatal crashes or will in the future?

“Automatic emergency braking (AEB): AEB is a feature that informs the driver of a possible crash. The person behind the wheel will then be assisted in using their brakes’ maximum capacity.

Back-up camera: Cameras are not brand new. However, they are significantly helpful. Through 360-degree camera systems, drivers will be able to see every side of their vehicles.

Auto-steering: The auto-steering feature can help the driver in circumstances where a collision is imminent. Auto-steering will help you drive around an object or person in your vehicle’s path.”

What can a driver do to prevent being involved in a fatal crash?

“Check the right of way: Always inspect the road, know if you have the right of way. If an intersection is near, yield to other drivers if necessary.

Observe signs: You need to be alert to the signs while driving. The road signs are there to let you know of the road conditions, speed limits, and any upcoming turns.

Fight off distractions: Avoid using your phone, talking to someone, or even eating while you’re on the road. Give your full attention so that you can immediately react to any possible threats.”

Do you have a personal story about a fatal car accident? Please share.

“The fatal car accident didn’t happen to me, but to a friend. We can call my friend Micheal. Micheal was driving on a highway during rush hour. He slowed down when the traffic stopped.

In a snap, he suddenly felt a loud crash. He got out of his car and found out that he’s now part of a multi-car crash. The cause of the accident was a large pickup truck that collided with an SUV.

Micheal was not severely injured. However, there were several who were. A lady who forgot to put her seat belt on almost got thrown off her car. One suffered from fractured ribs, while another one suffered from whiplash.

A few days later, Micheal felt a nagging pain in his neck. He scheduled an MRI and found out he had herniated discs. The injury was caused by the accident. He had to get surgery and endure physical therapy.”

Arnold ChapmanArnold Chapman was a trucker for over 20 years before he started an auto tech publication.
He is the founder of ELDFocus.com, an online magazine publisher in the auto industry.


“Fatal car crashes are tragic. As personal injury lawyers in the Philadelphia area, we have seen first hand the fallout that occurs from these horrific automobile accidents. A common factor in these fatal car accidents is speed. Simply put, speed kills.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation publishes data about fatal car crashes throughout the state, which indicates that Philadelphia has four of the 10 most deadly road segments in Pennsylvania.

According to studies, one of the worst roadways for car accidents and car accident case fatalities is a stretch of roadway named Roosevelt Boulevard, which is a major artery through Philadelphia.

Roosevelt Boulevard, being notorious for people speeding, prompted Philadelphia city officials to install red-light cameras a number of years ago, which sends fines to drivers who run red-lights throughout the City.

Red-light cameras simply have not been enough to provide a significant reduction in fatal crashes, even though they have decreased the number of people running red lights by 50 percent since 2005.

In 2019 nine people lost their lives due to car crashes on the ‘Boulevard.’ To complicate matters on Roosevelt Boulevard is often traveled by pedestrians and bicycle riders, who are more susceptible to injury and fatality as a result of a deadly crash.

To combat the issues surrounding Roosevelt Boulevard, which we drive to our Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd offices, and other high-traffic areas, the city has placed speed cameras that will send a driver a fine if they exceed the posted speed limit in excess of 11 mph.

The hope of installing speed cameras is to deter unsafe drivers by hitting them where it hurts — in their pockets. The use of technology will have a profound effect on the driving habits of Philadelphia residents.

No one likes paying fines of up to $150. This should result in fewer car accidents overall, and with that a reduction in car accident fatalities. Philadelphia’s mayor, with the help of speed cameras, has a lofty goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2030.”

Ted KaplunTed Kaplun, Esq. is a partner at the personal injury law firm of KaplunMarx.
He represents car accident victims, including serious injury and wrongful death cases.

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Complete Study Fatal Car Crash Rankings: States + D.C.

We know that if your state wasn’t featured in the list of the 10 states with the most fatal crashes, you’re probably anxious to find out where your state ranks, including in each category.

Check out the following table that shows all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of their overall rankings and their category rankings.

Worst to Best States in All Death Rate Categories
StatePer 100,000 ResidentsPer 100 Million Miles TraveledPer 100,000 Registered Vehicles2021 Rank
Mississippi1211
South Carolina2122
Louisiana10443
Arkansas6854
Kentucky8395
Alabama31176
New Mexico51437
West Virginia115138
Florida141069
Oklahoma9121110
Tennessee12161011
Arizona2061512
Georgia1520813
Missouri13191414
Kansas17171715
Idaho18132216
North Carolina19221217
Wyoming4282118
Texas23151619
Montana794120
North Dakota16272921
Indiana22321922
Maine25301823
Oregon27182824
Nevada30242025
Delaware24252626
Alaska3174027
Colorado28232728
South Dakota21214329
Nebraska26333130
California38292431
Michigan33352532
Pennsylvania39263333
Virginia35373234
Maryland40432335
Iowa29344436
Ohio36383537
Vermont32443638
Wisconsin34413739
Connecticut42403440
Utah41453041
Illinois43363942
New Hampshire37394243
Hawaii44314644
New Jersey46493845
Washington45424846
New York50474547
District of Columbia51464748
Rhode Island48484949
Minnesota47505150
Massachusetts49515051
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To get these rankings, our experts collected data from numerous authoritative sources and analyzed them for specific trends such as the number of a state’s fatal crashes compared to its population (the death rate per 100,000 residents (per resident) statistic).

Then, our experts ranked each state according to our three categories — death rate per residents, death rate per miles traveled, and death rate per registered vehicle — summed up those rankings, and used the sum to create the overall 2021 rank.

Head to our methodology section for a more detailed explanation.

Frequently Asked Questions: U.S. Drivers, Traffic Deaths, & Deadly Roads

When it comes to the states with the most fatal car accidents or where your state falls in this year’s rankings, there are always questions that come with such a ranking. In this section, we’ll answer some of those questions. They include:

  • How many car deaths are in the United States each year?
  • What is the most dangerous road in the country?
  • Who has the worst roads in the world?

That’s not all. There are more questions we answer below.

#1 – How many car deaths are in the United States each year?

The United States has repeatedly seen over 30,000 traffic deaths for decades, though that number has declined significantly since 1979 when the number of traffic deaths was over 50,000.

#2 – Who are the best drivers?

In our study, Massachusetts had the best drivers for the period we measured (between 2016 and 2018). It is often in the running for the top spot and is consistently within the top 10 states for best drivers.

#3 – What is the most dangerous road in the country?

I-4, which runs from Tampa, Florida to Daytona Beach, Florida, is often considered the most dangerous road in the United States. There is a high death rate per mile of that interstate and unique challenges such as high speeds, construction zones, heavy traffic, and a large number of truckers.

#4 – What is the deadliest road in Florida?

While I-4 is the deadliest road in Florida (and throughout the country for many years), Florida has other dangerous roads that often fall into the 10 deadliest roads in the country. These include U.S. Route 192 and I-95, both of which have a high death rate per miles traveled.

#5 – What is the deadliest highway in Texas?

I-45, which has its deadliest section running through Houston, is the deadliest highway in Texas and often ranks in the deadliest highways in the country, battling with I-4 in Florida. Part of the issue stems from Houston drivers, who have problems with drinking and driving in particular.

#6 – Which is the most dangerous road in the world?

The North Yungas Road in Bolivia is considered to be the most dangerous road in the world. The hazards include an unpaved narrow road, heavy cloud cover making visibility poor, waterfalls running down the mountain slopes, and plunges of up to 3,300 feet. With many drivers making risky, overtaking maneuvers, this road sees hundreds of deaths each year.

#7 – What country has the craziest drivers?

There is no real consensus on this issue, as every country has its driving issues and driving culture. While some countries have great road infrastructure with paved lanes, signs, and few potholes, other countries struggle with deteriorating streets, making maneuvers often necessary. However, they may be difficult and dangerous.

#8 – Who has the worst roads in the world?

When it comes to countries with the worst roads, often they are found in developing countries where resources are stretched too thin to keep all roads in perfect condition. They also may be overpopulated, as you can see from photos in China or Malaysia. This can result in a higher number of accidents, including fatal ones, which can make them much more dangerous to drive through.

#9 – What is the #1 cause of car crash deaths?

While some organizations would say distracted driving is the No. 1 cause of car crash deaths, it has been difficult to get statistics about what is the leading cause of fatal car accidents. From year to year, drunk driving and speeding are the leading causes of car crash deaths according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

#10 – What state has the highest crash rate?

When it comes to car accident statistics by state, our study found that Mississippi was the state with the highest number of crashes per our three categories. The South had trouble overall, occupying nine out of our top 10 spots.

#11 – Where do most fatal crashes occur?

In cities or urban areas, intersections result in a large number of crashes due to the complexity of navigating an intersection. However, most fatal crashes occur in rural areas, although the population in those areas is much smaller.

#12 – What state has the lowest drunk driving deaths?

In D.C. throughout 2018, there were just 10 traffic deaths involving someone who had been drinking. New York also generally has a small number of drunk driving deaths relative to its population. The role of public transportation in New York City may play a role in this.

#13 – What states have the most aggressive drivers?

While many rankings get fixated on New York or Idaho as having some of the most aggressive drivers, it is actually Wyoming that has the most aggressive drivers, if you think in terms of disregard for life. In 2019, Wyoming averaged 17 reckless driving fatal crashes per 100,000 residents, with over half involving a rollover.

#14 – Who has the most car accidents in the world?

Countries with the most car accidents tend to be developing countries that lack the road infrastructure to enable completely safe driving. These road conditions force drivers to perform risky maneuvers, which can lead to death.

#15 – Who has more car accidents male or female?

Males cause a great deal more car accidents than females and the consequences tend to be deadlier. In a reflection of their generally higher insurance rates, males are more likely to speed, drink and drive, and engage in other risky driving behavior.

#16 – What time of year do most car accidents happen?

Looking at fatal car accidents by year shows that fatal crashes tend to peak during the beginning of fall — around August or September. This is in part due to holidays like Labor Day and also that people tend to travel more often during the summer months.

#17 – What time of day do most fatal car accidents occur?

Most car accidents occur during 3 to 6 p.m. according to the NHTSA. Why? this is when most people are on the road, whether they are commuting home from work or picking the kids up from school. Because traffic is heavier, there is a greater risk of hitting another car.

Methodology: Ranking the Worst States for Fatal Car Accidents

To determine our list of the 10 states with the most fatal car accidents, our researchers gathered data for four categories:

  1. Number of fatal car crashes
  2. Total population
  3. Total miles traveled
  4. Total vehicles registered

For each category, our experts analyzed data by state (and the District of Columbia) and according to each year of our study, from 2016 to 2018. An example is with Mississippi, our worst state:

  • Number of fatal car crashes in Mississippi (2016-2018)
  • Total population of Mississippi (2016-2018)
  • Total miles traveled in Mississippi (2016-2018)
  • Total vehicles registered in Mississippi (2016-2018)

Our researchers then totaled those numbers for all years (combining 2016, 2017, and 2018 population amounts, for instance) and divided them by the total crashes for those three years. That’s how the various statistics per resident, per miles traveled, and per registered vehicle were created.

Our experts created rankings for each category, then summed those rankings to create an overall score. Continuing with our example of Mississippi, it’s rankings for each category were 1st for per resident, 2nd for per miles traveled, 1st for per registered vehicle. Together, these category rankings created a summed score of four.

The smaller the summed score, the worst the state was for fatal car accidents. Because Mississippi’s summed score of four was the smallest out of all states, it was ranked as the state worst for fatal car crashes in this study.

Our experts analyzed around 1.8 billion data points if you were to include the total number of fatal crashes, populations, miles traveled, and registered vehicles for 2016 through 2018, the years of our study.

The sources for these statistics came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the U.S. Census Bureau.

While the data comes from these three organizations, our researchers did the heavy lifting when finding trends within that data to create our ranking for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Living in a state with a high number of fatal crashes can raise your auto insurance rates. Fortunately, it’s possible to lower them. Plug your ZIP code into our online quote generator to get the best auto insurance rates for your area.

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