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America’s Safest and Most Dangerous States to Drive in 2016

Published November 15, 2016

New NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System data is out as of September, and we finally have the access to safest and deadliest states to drive in for 2016. In addition to 38,300 people who have lost their lives, approximately 4.4 million people have been left injured on American roads during 2015. That’s 105 deaths every day. That’s more than 4 deaths per traffic accident every hour.

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In the light of this staggering data, Auto Insurance Center has brought us their research on road safety per state and county based on NHTSA’s data for the past 20 years. In order to achieve that, they needed to analyze more than 777,000 fatal accident records from the aforementioned period. Moreover, they used the number of traffic fatalities per 10,000 people as their indicator. This irons out discrepancy between urban and rural areas. Had they decided to use the raw data, urban areas would have ended up being much more dangerous by default (since they facilitate much more traffic than rural areas).

According to their findings, 5 of the safest states for American drivers in the past 20 years have been Massachusetts, District of Columbia, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Northeastern states typically enforce the speed limit of 55 to 65 mph on urban and rural interstates. To the contrary, southern and western states usually allow top speeds of 70 and 75 mph respectively. This may be one of the main reasons why 5 of the most dangerous American states for drivers are Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, Alabama, and South Carolina (rated from most dangerous to fifth most dangerous).

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Broken down by counties and areas and observed during the past 20 years, 10 of the safest places to drive in are Arlington County, VA, Bethel Census Area, AK, Broomfield County, CO, Bronx County, NY, New Tork County, NY, Kings County, NY, Middlesex County, MA, Suffolk County, MA, Bristol County, RI, and Hennepin County, MN in that order.

Most dangerous counties and areas for American drivers, on the other hand, are La Paz County, AZ, Tunica County, MS, Lowndes County, AL, Leon County, TX, Big Horn County, MT, Reeves County, TX, Millard County, UT, Emery County, UT, Conecuh County, AL, and Jasper County, SC.

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Taking only the last year into consideration, however, 20 of the deadliest counties in the US are as follows.

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These, however, aren’t the only findings Auto Insurance Center has come up with. It turns out car accidents have been in steep decline during the last 20 years. Looking nationally, we had 1.59 deaths per 10,000 residents in 1995. Thanks to technological advancements, better road infrastructure, and more strict safety regulations among other things, that rate has fallen to 1.09 deaths in 2015. Biggest drop coincided with the economic recession from a few years ago which is understandable since less people were able to afford individual travel. What’s troubling is the fact that the number of car accident-related deaths has been on a slow rise yet again ever since the economic situation started improving.

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Percentage-wise, US national average in fatal vehicle accidents has dropped by 16.1% in the past 20 years. District of Columbia benefited the most with 60.3% decrease, followed by Vermont (46.2%), Iowa (39.3%), New Mexico (38.6%), and Illinois (37.1%) respectively. On the other end of the scale, North Dakota suffered the most since traffic-caused deaths there increased by staggering 77% during the past 20 years. South Carolina with 10.9% increase and Texas with 10.5% increase are second and third in fatal vehicle accidents increase over the years. Only four more states have seen increase in fatal accidents. Florida with 4.8%, Montana with 4.2%, Delaware with 4.1%, and Nevada with 3.8%

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As seen above, future fatal vehicle accidents trends will continue to be dependent on numerous factors – state of the US economy being one of more peculiar of them. Looking at the bigger picture, however, deaths in traffic accidents should continue to drop state-wise. We might have reached the safety peak for now, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean this will be the all-time peak.

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Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Despite driving a piece of junk, Nikola still manages to survive the harrowing experience called "A road trip in a Yugo," day in, day out. On the other hand, precious few things move him as muscle cars do. Especially those from the bygone golden era, which makes him wonder why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been given the opportunity to enjoy the likes of the Pontiak Aztek, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Fiat Multipla, and other lovely millennials, right? Come to think of it, I'll stick with my Yugo. Thank you very much.

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