Studies find states, cities and car brands with the safest and worst drivers

Road safety is a fascinating topic, and the topic of accident reduction is one that always generates lively discussion. When the pandemic started to gain momentum in early 2020, the roads were nearly empty as people jammed in, but crashes and deaths rose simultaneously. Insurify and QuoteWizard, online insurance buying tools, regularly conduct driver safety studies, and some of their more recent surveys have yielded some interesting results.

Insurify looked at the states with the best drivers and the car brands with the most crashes, covering this year to date. Interestingly, both categories are strongly associated with stereotypes and have a long list of car owner and driver jokes in some states.

State and vehicle brand studies included 4.6 million auto insurance claims. They measured the percentage of driver applications with clean records or the number of at-fault accidents for drivers of each car brand. Nationally, 83.38% of drivers have wiped the slate clean. Insurify notes that the two most common offenses are speeding tickets (8.6% of drivers) and at-fault accidents (8.95% of drivers).

Which states have the best drivers? It’s time to break some stereotypes, because states that are regularly criticized for having terrible drivers are at the top of the list. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont are among the states with the best drivers. Michigan, home to the US auto industry, has the highest share of drivers with clean records. Although Insurify found that having more drivers with clean records is not correlated with fewer road fatalities.

Car brands are almost as often stereotyped for the behavior of their drivers. “BMW drivers never use their turn signals” or “Toyota Prius owners hog the left lane” are just a few of the tired jokes on the subject. Like state-level driving record data, the car brands with the most crashes in 2022 aren’t the ones people typically associate with bad road behavior.

First of all, a big congratulations to the brand with the safest drivers: Volvo. Insurify says only 5.81% of the automaker’s owners had an at-fault accident, 37% lower than the national average.

Conversely, Ram truck drivers can proudly claim to have the highest percentage of at-fault accidents in 2022, closely followed by Subaru. Volkswagen, Mazda and Hyundai complete the top five.

To be fair, we’re not talking about the full range of vehicles from the brands with the worst drivers. In each case, certain models tend to lower the mark—WRX riders have a much worse track record than Outback or Ascent riders. Other troublesome models on the list include the Ram 3500, VW Atlas, Mazda2, and Hyundai Elantra Coupe.

Insurify found a strong correlation between auto brands with speeding drivers and, unsurprisingly, those with higher crash counts. In other words, brands with heavy-footed drivers are more likely to have higher percentages of at-fault crashes.

QuoteWizard, a division of Lending Tree, conducted a study of 6 million auto insurance quotes in the nation’s 70 largest cities to find the best and worst drivers by city. The company considers a number of factors, including speeding tickets, tickets, accidents and drunk driving. Bakersfield, Calif., a city with a 2020 population of just under 400,000, was the worst in the study. Driven by the study’s worst DUI ranking, Bakersfield “beat” Sacramento for the top (or rather, last) spot in the study. QuoteWizard notes that the five worst-driving cities had a high number of impaired driving cases.

Most of the cities on the worst 10 list are in California, with Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jacksonville, Florida, and Salt Lake City, Utah rounding out the package.

Cities with the best drivers include Louisville, Ky., at No. 1, Hartford, Connecticut, at No. 2 and Little Rock, Ark., at third place.

Go to the QuoteWizard site for a deeper dive and to see where your city ranks.

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