Survey says: Utahns rank No. 2 best drivers in US, what do you think?

ST. GEORGE — Utah has the second best drivers in the country, according to a survey published on Monday by Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this survey compiled by the auto insurance website scored every state on the quality of their drivers. The higher the score, the worse off the state.

The methodology of the survey was published, however the logic behind the ranking system is up for interpretation. The assumption that these statistics actually correspond to quality of driving is also up for interpretation.

Utah drivers were ranked second best in the country, because they had the second lowest score. The only state to have better drivers than Utah according to the survey, is Vermont. The worst state to drive in is Louisiana.

(story continues below)

Worst drivers by state

1. Louisiana 18. Maryland 35. Michigan
2. South Carolina 19. California 36. Virginia
3. Mississippi 20. Ohio 37. Idaho
4. Texas 21. Illinois 38. Kansas
5. Alabama 22. New York 39. Washington
6. Florida 23. Wisconsin 40. Rhode Island
7. Missouri 24. Kentucky 41. Alaska
8. North Carolina 25. Hawaii 42. Massachusetts
9. Montana 26. Colorado 43. Iowa
10. North Dakota 27. Wyoming 44. Dist. of Columbia
11. Oklahoma 28. Delaware 45. Connecticut
12. Nevada 29.  Indiana 46. Maine
13. Tennessee 30. New Mexico 47. Oregon
14. Georgia 31. South Dakota 48. Minnesota
15. Pennsylvania 32. New Jersey 49. New Hampshire
16. Arizona 33. Nebraska 50. Utah
17. Arkansas 34. West Virginia 51. Vermont


Utah’s rankings compared to nearby states 

(the higher the score, the worse off the states were)

State rank (51 is the best)

Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled

Failure to Obey (Traffic Signals & Seat Belts)

Drunk Driving


Careless Driving

50. Utah 14 12 1 20 23
47. Oregon 22 3 7 16 32
37. Idaho 25 39 23 9 4
30. New Mexico 38 10 9 14 47
27. Wyoming 42 20 36 1 21
26. Colorado 20 45 17 25 13
19. California 11 25 16 43 45
16. Arizona 39 21 12 33 49
12. Nevada 24 9 34 51 43


Utah drivers

  • Drunk driving: Besides the total score, Utah scored the lowest out of all states on one particular category, drunk driving. This means that Utah has the lowest percentage of alcohol-impaired vehicle crash fatalities reported by the NHTSA. In 2012, only 16 percent of Utah’s total vehicle crash fatalities were due to alcohol impairment.  The national average in 2012 was 31 percent.
  • Failure to obey: There were 12 states that scored lower than Utah in the “failure to obey traffic signals and seat belts” category. This means that Utah was one of the states with the fewest accidents caused by violations such as running lights, running stop signs, and not wearing seat-belts as recorded by the NHTSA.
  • Fatality rate: Utah also scored well on its overall fatality rate.  There were only 13 states that had a lower rate then Utah. Massachusetts, had the lowest with 0.62 and Montana had the highest with 1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled. Utah’s fatality rate in 2012 was 0.92 fatalities per 100 million miles travelled. All of these rates were for the year of 2012 according to NHTSA statistics.
  • Careless driving: Utah ranked No. 23 in careless driving, the state’s worst ranking. The survey again used NHTSA statistics to rank states in this category. The survey used two statistics to come to this conclusion: the percentage of pedestrians who were killed by motor vehicles in each state and the same for pedacyclists — non-motorized, human-powered vehicles like bikes, trikes and unicycles — who are killed by motor vehicles.
  • Tickets: Utah ranked as the 20th most likely state to issue its drivers a traffic ticket. This was based on an NMA study that used a public Google tool. This Google tool shows search trends in particular geographical areas across the U.S. According to the study, Utah’s neighbor, Nevada is the most likely state in the country to issue drivers a ticket.

Methods behind the survey

The ranking system was broken down into the five categories listed above. Each particular category ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia — from worst to best.  Then these individual categories were averaged out and an overall list was created.


The survey used three sources, but one of the sources they list, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website, wasn’t actually used as a primary statistical source. The MADD website was used for background information and to locate the primary statistical source, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jeffrey A. Crews, vice president of said.

The primary source, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was used for four of their lists: fatality rates, drunk driving, careless driving, and failure to obey. The fifth category, tickets, was compiled from a study done by the National Motorists Association.

The NHTSA is a federal government organization that among other things collects data from accidents across the country. The NHTSA states on one of it’s fact sheets that it gets its data from state and local law enforcement agencies. 

The other source used — albeit only on the “tickets” category — was the NMA. The NMA is an advocacy group for drivers across the country. They assert, among other things, to fight corruption among driving related government policies. The NMA study stated that its scores were calculated from by averaging the popularity of ticket-related search queries such as “speeding ticket” and “traffic tickets.” It then ranked the states that are most likely to give drivers a ticket, according to the survey. 

For the full spreadsheet with each category’s break down, click here.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • My Evil Twin December 20, 2013 at 9:33 am

    This has to come under the heading, “Lies, Dam n Lies, and Statistics.” Since statistics can be manipulated to show whatever whoever is paying for the study wants them to show, they are worthless. But this at least is not totally worthless. It gave me the best laugh I’ve had in years! 😀

  • Shayla December 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

    2nd best on paper maybe – But really, it’s … out there. People drive all kinds of crazy.
    (Elipses added by Ed.)

  • JOSH DALTON December 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

    This survey is BOGUS!!!!

  • David December 20, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Second best? No I don’t think so. Since I moved in St George 12 years ago, the traffic was in good shape, no driving distractions, no rage driving, no cut offs on right turns and no tailgating. Now, with more people moved in, over 70,000 from 40,000 people in this town, the traffic was bad enough. More accidents, not enough traffic lights, and nobody paid enough attention to avoid accident. I rated this town much worse than New York City, whoa yes, I’ve seen a lot of accidents of any kind … automobile into buildings, hitting people, hitting poles, even going thru red lights. I don’t have any suggestions to stop this, and it’s up to police, new mayor and the community to stop the accidents.

    • My Evil Twin December 20, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I’ve been here since the late 80’s, and even back then people drove like idiots. I think it may be something in the water here. Or maybe it’s just the “downwind syndrome.”

    • JOSH DALTON December 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

      amen! I’m from Atlanta,Ga. Traffic sucks there. It is also a very dangerous city to drive in. everybody drives fast. I never had an issue with road rage until I started driving here in Saint George 10yrs ago. Its ludacris the way people in this town drive.

    • oh really? December 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      I agree with u. The drivers in saint george have gotten so very much worse. They’re even worse than they were 19 yrs ago.

  • DoubleTap December 20, 2013 at 11:33 am

    It is apparent that whoever conducted the study has never driven in St. George, Utah.

  • Taryn December 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

    It’s not that bad really. It’s just nobody likes to use their signals, hence, the accidents.

  • Bob Vosper December 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Perhaps would have been #1 but the drivers in Sun River knocked us off that spot.

  • Tom December 20, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Its quite difficult to respect the officers who give out traffic citations when they dont follow the laws that they are supposed to be upholding. There is no reason that they should get away with not using blinkers, tailgating, talking on thier cell phones, speeding thru school zones and not stopping fully at stop signs. If the reason for the rules is public safety, why does driving a cop car all of the sudden make the rules null and void? They are humans just like the rest of us and thier poor driving skills are just as much a risk to the safety of others as citizens driving. Its a bad case of “Do as I say, Not as I do”.

  • Kat December 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    This has to be a bias survey. Utah is one of the worse states to drive in. Honked at for stopping at a stop light, cut off several times causing one accident and several near misses. Traffic jams when there is hardly any traffic. Tailgating is really bad and people constantly staying in your blind spot. It gets worse when it storms.

  • Dean December 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    most people here in st george suck at driving.

  • Adrian December 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    D… facts. Must be the dominant religion and the good ol’ boys paid off the NHTSA. I KNOW it has to be wrong because just this year I have driven in all the big cities of all 50 states.
    Ed. ellipsis

  • Jeff Grover December 21, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I have driven in most of the toughest places in the country and have commented for years that Utah drivers are the worst. In California they drive exceedingly fast, in D.C. they are aggressive, in Mass. they are mean, but in all those places they are somewhat predictable. Utah drivers are just randomly stupid. I taught my kids to pay more attention to the flow of traffic than to the posted speed; in Utah there is no flow. I’m new to St George and can’t believe how many drivers disregard red lights here (that IS predictable). On top of all that the number of drivers on the cell phone is incredible.

  • Roy December 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I have driven in many states. I have never seen more people tailgate, run stop signs, red lights, make illegal/dangerous turns, U-turns, lane changes and just plain discourteous drivers than I have here in Utah. Who paid off the survey people.

  • Chris December 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Utah drivers, (especially those living North of Payson through Salt Lake City, Ogden to the Idaho border) are in the top 3 WORST drivers in the US hands down!
    Obviously the Company producing this survey got their two topics confused/switched up and Utah Drivers ranked as the #2 worst drivers in the Nation, not the best!
    I’ve driven in every state and I can attest that Northern Utah drivers are seriously over aggressive, arrogant, rude, wreckless and somehow believe that you are racing with them down the highway and if you win (by getting in front of them) you must win/receive a prize or money somehow!?!

  • Mike February 11, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Once upon a time, St George was a quiet little town, then overnight it seems, a giant population growth explosion took place. It was the combination of the poorly designed infrastructure and the amount of people who moved here that contributed to the fact that St George has some of the absolute worst drivers in the country. I’ve lived in 5 different states, including Las Vegas, Nevada, and I’ve never experienced such poor driving habits until I moved to St George 8 years ago. On a daily basis I see these idiot drivers not signaling, not staying in their lanes, cutting out in front of people, not knowing how to use a roundabout, driving too slow, driving too fast, driving in the wrong lane, etc, etc, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am witnessing this on a daily basis, I mean its BAD! Everyone know that Utah ranks incredibly low on the education scale, so maybe there is some correlation there. St George is also a HUGE drug town. Makes me wonder how many of these drivers are stoned when they’re cutting people off.

  • Dar December 31, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    You’re kidding, right? I’ve been to most of the US states and the only place I’ve seen with worse drivers than Utah is New Orleans. :/

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