This U.S. State Has the Most Treacherous Commute
Traffic fatalities in the United States are on the rise. But as it turns out, some states are more to blame than others.
Are you safe during your daily commute?
We spend nearly 38,000 hours commuting over the course of our lifetimes, according to a Harvard Health Watch study. But in some states, getting behind the wheel is riskier than in others. Using 2016 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), job site Zippia.com ranked all 50 states based on commuter safety. These are the highlights, starting with the safest states for commuters and ending with the most dangerous. (The complete ranking can be found here. How did your state do?)
5th Safest State: New Jersey
Garden State drivers have among the safest commutes in the country: Less than ten people die for every 100,000 licensed drivers each year, according to the NHTSA data. Compared to the national average of 16.9 deaths, it seems safe to say that commuters in New Jersey can breathe much easier during rush hour. If bumper-to-bumper traffic is the bane of your commute, try these 8 mental tricks to make the traffic go by faster.
4th Safest State: Washington
Washington also has a much lower vehicle-related fatality rate than the national average, with just 9.53 deaths per 100,000 licensed drivers. Washingtonian motorists can thank new statewide laws—they ban holding items like phones, food, coffee cups, or mascara while driving—for the safe commute. Although this means you can’t scarf down breakfast on the way to the office, rest assured that you are more likely to get to there without a scratch. Plus, that’s nothing compared to the strangest laws in every state.
3rd Safest State: New York
Surprise: Ranked number three on the list of safest commuting states is the Big Apple. Turns out that pedestrians in New York are at a higher risk of vehicle-related fatalities than drivers are. Why? Many New Yorkers live in urban areas, so they tend to get to work by foot or public transportation rather than in a car. No matter how you get to the office, find out what successful people do on their commute.
2nd Safest State: Massachusetts
Only two states in New England will legally let you talk on the phone while driving—and Massachusetts is one of them. However, you can still expect to get a ticket if you are caught texting while driving, even if you are stopped in traffic or at a red light. Perhaps that explains why Massachusetts drivers are some of the safest in the country. (You probably break these weird laws all the time, too.)
The Safest State: Rhode Island
The U.S. state with the safest commute goes to none other than Rhode Island. Slower traffic speeds and a large number of residents using public transportation may explain its high ranking, according to Zippia. Rhode Island also passed a law that prohibits using a handheld device while behind the wheel, which can decrease accidents due to distracted driving. Find out the surprising things you’re doing that could get you a speeding ticket—besides speeding.
5th Most Dangerous State: Wyoming
Now that you know which states are the safest for drivers, which states are the ones that demand the most caution during your daily commute? First up is Wyoming, which was ranked the fifth worst state to commute on Zippia’s list. Wyoming reported 27 vehicle-related deaths per 100,000 drivers in 2016. What’s more, nearly 68 percent of people involved in car accidents were not wearing seatbelts. The major takeaway: Make sure to buckle up the next time you head to the office.
4th Most Dangerous State: South Carolina
South Carolina has an average of 27 fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers, and 33 percent of those deadly car accidents are due to drunk drivers. Another culprit of this state’s high fatality rate might be cellphones; South Carolina is one of the few states in the United States that hasn’t passed a statewide ban on texting while driving. To make your commute safer, brush up on these safe driving tips everyone should know to avoid an accident.
3rd Most Dangerous State: Oklahoma
Believe it or not, one particular Oklahoma highway might be to blame: A 2018 NHTSA study listed Oklahoma’s State Hwy 9 as the second most dangerous highway in the country. At 348 miles long, Hwy 9 is the second longest in the state, and 50 fatal crashes were reported there from 2010 through 2016. Here are more of the most dangerous roads in the world.
2nd Most Dangerous State: Kentucky
Coming in as the second-worst U.S. state for commuting is Kentucky. While it did escape the top spot, NHTSA reports that Kentucky still has a rate of nearly 28 car-related deaths per 100,000 drivers. Like many other states that made the list, distracted drivers might be responsible: Kentuckians won’t get a ticket for talking on the phone or even texting while behind the wheel. By the way, if you’re not doing this while driving, your commute could be toxic.
The Most Dangerous State: Mississippi
With a fatality rate of just over 34 per 100,000 drivers, Mississippi is ranked the most dangerous commuting state in the nation. Zippia believes that alcohol could play a role. Although data suggest that the state’s car-crash deaths linked to alcohol are below the national average—just 19 percent in 2016, compared to the national average of 28 percent—the experts note that officers failed to breathalyze nearly half of the Mississippi drivers who were involved in deadly car accidents that year. That’s not the only way driving can harm your health. Watch out for these signs your commute is making you sick.