If you own or drive a car, driving it to run errands or to and from work becomes second nature. You never really think about how risky it is, yet it’s actually one of the most dangerous things we do on a daily basis. Every year, car accidents claim thousands of lives and changes the lives of even more as a result of injury and loss. In 2015, roughly 36,300 people died and 4.4 million suffered from injuries in the United States alone. Those numbers are staggering. Analyzing over 710,000 accident records covering 20 years from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the Auto Insurance Center created a series of maps and graphics depicting the deadliest counties and states in the U.S. for drivers.
The Most Dangerous Counties in the U.S.
Based on the 20-year data they compiled from FARS, they found that the safest place to drive is in Bristol County, Rhode Island. Coincidentally, Bristol also happens to be the least populated county in the state. The map also shows that La Paz County in Arizona is the deadliest in the country, even though La Paz County is the second least populated county in Arizona. When looking at the data for 2014 alone, though, McMullen County, Texas topped the list, with eight other Texas counties holding a spot in the top 20.
The Deadliest States in the U.S.
Based on the map, it seems like the Northeast takes the top spots for safest states, with Massachusetts ranked at number one. As far as the deadliest states go, that map reveals that Mississippi is by far the deadliest, with Wyoming and Montana coming in second and third respectively.
The Scariest States for Drivers, by Year
This interactive allows you to choose a year and it will show you which states ranked the highest and lowest in traffic fatalities for that year. When you hover over a highlighted state, the map give the fatality rate in that state per 10,000 people. The most recent year the map depicts is 2014, and in that year Wyoming experienced 2.6 deaths per 10,000 people, earning it the title of the most dangerous state for drivers. D.C., on the other hand, only had .3 fatalities per 10,000, making it the safest.
A Decrease in Fatal Road Crashes
According to the data they collected, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Across the U.S., fatal accidents are on a decline, with just an average of 1.02 deaths per 10,000 in 2014. That’s a drop from 1.59 per 10,000 in 1995.
Rising (& Dropping) Death Rates, by State
This chart shows which states had the biggest change in roadway fatalities. Although some states may have done well the previous year, a change in traffic accidents is something that should still be considered. The data collected shows that between 2013 and 2014, Wyoming and Alaska had the largest increases in fatalities, while Vermont had a large drop in road deaths.
The Long View: Changes Over a 20-Year Period
This final chart gives insight on changes in fatality rates over a 20-year period. Based on the data they collected, although the U.S. saw an overall decrease in deaths, North Dakota, Texas, Delaware, and Wyoming actually saw an increase in fatalities.
Although driving has become a lot safer overall, it’s still important to follow the rules of the road to prevent any accidents from occurring. If you want to read more about the study and their methodology, go here.