TRAFFIC SAFETY: Study reveals most dangerous driving causes in the U.S.

Dec. 9, 2016

Covering the period 2005-2015, the study used NHTSA’s fatal accident reporting system to cull data

The Auto Insurance Center (AIC) has completed a study of the deadliest driving conditions by state throughout the U.S. from 2005 to 2015. The insurance news and information website used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatal accident reporting system to reveal the cause of deadly crashes. Common causes were found to be distracted driving, road rage, drunk driving, aggressive driving and adverse weather.

In the areas of careless and/or reckless driving, Montana had the highest death rate, 108 fatalities for every 100,000 residents over the period of study. Failure to use a seat belt was the most common cause. Arkansas was second with 86 deaths per 100,000 residents. New York and California were among the states with the fewest fatalities per 100,000, two and three respectively.

In Indiana, the main culprit was road rage, accounting for nearly 13 fatalities per 100,000, more than twice as many as the next highest state (South Carolina). Failure to stay in lane caused 93 fatalities in Mississippi and nearly as many in Wyoming.

As for drunk driving, Wyoming was the worst, with 93 deaths per 100,000; Montana was a close second with 86. Until 2005, Montana actually allowed driving with an open beer can in hand. Although that’s no longer legal, the state “has a strong social trend of drinking and driving,” according to the AIC.

Despite all the publicity, laws and organizations aimed at combating drunk driving, 28 people die each day due to crashes involving alcohol, the AIC said.

As for speeding or “racing the driver beside you,” Wyoming and Montana remained consistently at the top, while Alabama was third. Dixie drivers don’t seem to mind racing with police: 2.5 fatalities per 100,000 residents occurred during such a pursuit.

Drivers in rural states aren’t necessarily worse than their counterparts in the bumper-hugging Northeast or other urban areas. But speeds are higher there, particularly in areas that increased their speed limits to 85 miles per hour. Plus, they have more pickup trucks on the road, and momentum and mass both factor into vehicular deaths.

An infographic detailing the results of the study can be found here.