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

Traffic safety is a fascinating topic and the topic of reducing accidents is one that always starts a heated discussion. When the pandemic began to gather steam in early 2020, the roads were almost empty as people were shut down, but accidents and deaths rose simultaneously. Insurify and QuoteWizard, online insurance shopping tools, regularly conduct studies on driver safety, and some of their most recent surveys yielded interesting results.

Insurify looked at the states with the best drivers and car brands with the most accidents, covering the year to date. Interestingly, both categories are strongly associated with stereotypes and have a long list of jokes about car owners and drivers in certain states.

The state and vehicle make studies included 4.6 million auto insurance applications. They measured the percentage of applications from drivers with clean records or the number of at-fault accidents for drivers of each car brand. Nationally, 83.38% of drivers have a clean record. Insurify notes that the two most common violations 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 bust some stereotypes, because the states that regularly get busted the most 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, the home of the US auto industry, has the largest share of drivers with clean records. Although Insurify found that having more drivers with clean records does not correlate with fewer traffic deaths.

Car brands are almost as often stereotyped about the behavior of their drivers. “BMW drivers never use their turn signals” or “Toyota Prius owners drive in the left lane” are just some 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, a shout out to the brand with the safest drivers: Volvo. Insurify says just 5.81% of automaker owners have had an at-fault accident, a full 37% lower than the national average.

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

To be fair, we’re not talking about the entire lineup of vehicles from the brands with the worst drivers. In either case, certain models tend to drag the brand down – WRX drivers have a much worse track record than Outback or Ascent drivers. Other problematic models on the list include the Ram 3500, VW Atlas, Mazda2 and Hyundai Elantra Coupe.

Insurify found a strong correlation between vehicle brands with speeding drivers and, not surprisingly, with the highest number of accidents. In other words, brands with heavy-footed drivers are more likely to have higher at-fault accident rates.

QuoteWizard, a division of Lending Tree, conducted a study of 6 million car 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, citations, accidents and DUIs. Bakersfield, California, a city with a population of 400,000 as of 2020, was the worst in the study. Driven by the worst DUI ranking in the study, Bakersfield “beat” Sacramento for first (or rather last) place in the study. QuoteWizard notes that the five cities with the worst driving had a high number of DUIs.

Most of the cities on the top 10 worst list are in California, with Baton Rouge, La., Jacksonville, Fla., and Salt Lake City, Utah, rounding it out.

Cities with the best drivers include Louisville, Ky., at No. 1, Hartford, Conn., at No. 2 and Little Rock, Ark., at No. 3.

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

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