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Which states have the most dangerous interstates?

Here's what you need to know...
  • According to Federal Highway Administration estimates, Americans have traveled an average of 234.9 billion vehicle miles per month in 2012
  • The dubious honor of “State with the Most Dangerous Highways” goes to South Carolina
  • Even if you’re in Iowa driving on the safest highways in the country, you should still protect yourself with the right amount of car insurance coverage
According to Federal Highway Administration estimates, Americans have traveled an average of 234.9 billion vehicle miles per month in 2012. Whether it’s the decrease in gas prices or the unusually warm temperatures, we’ve been traveling a lot!

While you should always make it a point to drive carefully on any highway (no texting!), there are a few states where you should be extra careful because they have more dangerous highways than others.

However, before you venture out to any highway anywhere, make sure you have the right coverage!

Methodology

Instead of throwing together table after table for you to decipher, we ranked all 50 continental states in each metric.

Fifty is the worst rank.

We combined all the different rankings and ranked each state by its total score using data from the following sources:

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Highways

Who made Top 10 for states with the most dangerous highways? You might be surprised!
Here’s the list, starting with number 10 (The complete rankings table is at the bottom of the page):

#10 – Idaho
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Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (11th)
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1000 Highway Miles Traveled (45th)

The interstates in Idaho were ranked more on the safer side, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the highways there.

Idaho ranks 45th in Highway Deaths per 1000 Highway Miles Driven and fared worse than average in three of the remaining four categories. Even though it’s the fifth least populated state, more room on the road doesn’t necessarily mean more safety!

#9 – Tennessee
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Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (16th)

Worst Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (42nd)

Tennessee’s highway bridges rank fairly well at 16, and that may have hurt them in that they didn’t receive a lot from the Highway Trust Fund. However, there is no excuse for their poor performance in the other ranking criteria.

There is never a good reason for riding without a seatbelt. Unfortunately, a consistently high annual IIHS Death Rate landed Tennessee in the #9 spot.

# 8 – Arizona
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Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (4th)
Worst Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (46th)

Arizona landed in the bottom seven in three categories: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate, Highway Deaths per 1000 Highway Miles Driven, and Federal Funding. Evidently, some of the most up-to-date bridges do not mean better safety ratings overall.

#7 – Kentucky
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Best Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (15th)
Worst Ranking Factor: Percentage of Drivers Without Seatbelts (45th)

Kentucky drivers may be taking their safe interstates for granted, as they’re 45th in the nation when it comes to the easiest category to improve in: wearing seatbelts. Perhaps this issue has something to do with their consistently high IIHS Death Rates, since “wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent.”

#6 – Wyoming
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Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (2nd)
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates (50th)

If you’ve ever driven in Wyoming, you’ve most likely seen the incredible wide open spaces and breathtaking mountains. Maybe the mountains are a little too distracting, considering Wyoming ranks 50th for average IIHS Death Rates and 49th for Highway Deaths per 1000 Highway Miles Driven.

You’d think this might encourage Wyoming drivers to use their seatbelts more, and hopefully, they will improve their rank in that category in the future.

#5 – Mississippi
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Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (18th)
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates (49th)

Wyoming residents can comfort themselves knowing that drivers in Mississippi actually use their seatbelts even less than they do.

Mississippi lands right in the middle of the pack for our middle three categories, but the high-speeding fatalities on their interstates and #49 rank in the IIHS Death Rate averages (second only to their Wyoming friends) mean Mississippi is right in the middle of the best of the worst.

#4 – Louisiana
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Best Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (18th)
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1000 Miles Traveled & IIHS Death Rates (41st in both)

Louisiana is another one on our list with relatively safe interstates and more dangerous smaller highways, but drivers from the Pelican state just aren’t measuring up well when it comes to wearing seatbelts! Being in the bottom ten of three categories is enough to push Louisiana up to #4.

#3 – Alabama
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Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (14th)
Worst Ranking FactorIIHS Death Rates (47th)

Continuing the Southern trend of our Top Five, Alabama is #40 in Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate, which is not the worst category for Alabama. They are #47 for IIHS Death Rate averages, not to mention the bottom fifteen in bridge ratings and highway deaths.

#2 – Florida
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Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (5th)
Worst Ranking Factor: Federal Funding (49th)

Florida was hurt by the lack of federal funding here (#49), but the other rankings were not so spectacular either. Only four other states (New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana) rank worse for Highway Deaths per 1000 Highway Miles Driven. Even with some of the best-rated bridges in the nation, dangerous highways are a major concern for Florida.

#1 – South Carolina
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Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (33rd)
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rate (46th)

The dubious honor of “State with the Most Dangerous Highways” goes to South Carolina, the only state in our Top 10 to rank in the bottom half of every single category.

It wasn’t even close! South Carolina finished a full 37 points ahead of Florida in total score! Could South Carolina’s lack of cell phone bans while driving be to blame?

Points of Interest from Study

– Most States Can Be Proud of at Least One Category

Even Florida and Arizona — both among the worst ten states — have some of the best highway bridges in the nation. Minnesota and Iowa, the two safest states, rank in the safest ten across three categories! Even so, there’s always room for improvement.

–The Worst States Tend to Ignore Their Seatbelts, Regardless of the Laws

The best ranking of any of the Top 10 in the seatbelt category is Arizona coming in at number 20, even though tickets can be issued solely for driving without a seatbelt in seven of those states. Seatbelts save lives, and everyone in the car should be buckled in.

– The Five Most Dangerous States Are in the South

We have nothing against southern states, but a number of them rank high in our previous “Worst Drivers” study. As stated earlier, you’re still allowed to text and drive in South Carolina (even young drivers), and Florida highways — with similarly loose restrictions — rank second place for Most Dangerous.

What about the safest five? They’re all relatively close together in the upper Midwest.

Remember to compare car insurance quotes before you find yourself on a dangerous road!

Complete Rankings

– To sort table by category, click on header columns.

StateInterstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate Percent of Drivers w/o SeatbeltsHighway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles TraveledFederal Funding IIHS Death RatesTotal ScoreRank
South Carolina 44 41 33 38 39 46 241 1
Florida 37 32 5 46 49 35 204 2
Alabama 40 24 36 39 14 47 200 3
Louisiana 18 40 37 41 23 41 200 4
Mississippi 36 47 24 25 18 49 199 5
Wyoming 19 46 30 49 2 50 196 6
Kentucky 15 45 32 31 31 40 194 7
Arizona 46 20 4 43 45 32 190 8
Tennessee 23 35 16 32 42 38 186 9
Idaho 20 36 39 45 11 34 185 10
Colorado 33 28 28 33 44 17 183 11
Arkansas 10 48 15 44 19 45 181 12
Missouri 43 37 17 35 13 36 181 13
California 48 4 41 19 50 10 172 14
Oklahoma 38 26 21 36 8 42 171 15
Pennsylvania 32 21 46 21 30 20 170 16
West Virginia 22 25 34 37 6 44 168 17
Montana 4 33 29 50 3 48 167 18
Rhode Island 47 39 49 16 10 3 164 19
Texas 45 10 11 29 41 27 163 20
Massachusetts 31 50 50 2 27 1 161 21
Maine 12 34 40 14 33 23 156 22
North Carolina 35 13 25 20 29 33 155 23
Kansas 8 43 12 34 25 30 152 24
New Mexico 25 9 6 47 22 43 152 25
Hawaii 50 2 48 30 12 9 151 26
Delaware 49 19 13 28 9 29 147 27
Maryland 42 6 22 13 48 16 147 28
Nevada 29 8 18 42 21 26 144 29
Connecticut 41 23 42 8 24 5 143 30
New York 13 17 47 18 46 2 143 31
South Dakota 6 44 9 40 5 39 143 32
Virginia 27 31 23 7 36 19 143 33
New Hampshire 9 49 35 3 26 13 135 34
Georgia 26 12 8 26 28 31 131 35
Wisconsin 28 42 7 12 20 22 131 36
Ohio 11 29 31 4 40 15 130 37
Washington 30 1 44 6 43 6 130 38
Illinois 34 14 19 15 38 7 127 39
Utah 39 16 14 10 32 14 125 40
Vermont 14 22 43 17 7 21 124 41
New Jersey 5 11 45 11 47 4 123 42
Oregon 7 3 38 22 35 18 123 43
Alaska 3 27 26 48 1 11 116 44
Nebraska 17 30 2 23 15 25 112 45
North Dakota 2 38 1 27 4 37 109 46
Michigan 21 5 27 9 34 12 108 47
Indiana 24 15 20 1 17 24 101 48
Minnesota 16 18 3 5 37 8 87 49
Iowa 1 7 10 24 16 28 86 50


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