A new report has broken down each state by car accident deaths to show the safest and most dangerous states for drivers. Researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute looked at statistics from 2013 to find answers.
They took a look at statistics on traffic fatalities in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database. In addition to finding the death rate for traffic deaths, they also did the math to figure out how those deaths compared to the rest of the deaths in each state.
The interesting thing about their research was that their findings were unexpected. States with higher traffic congestion seem to be the obvious choice for a higher death rate, but their findings actually proved the opposite. They found that the American northeast and the Pacific coast, where there are more crowded areas, had quite low fatality rates compared to what they expected.
The safest states included Washington, D.C., with 3.1 deaths per 100,000 residents, followed by Massachusetts (4.9 deaths), New Jersey and New York (tied at 6.1 deaths), Rhode Island (6.2 deaths), Washington state (6.3 deaths), and Alaska (6.9 deaths).
For some cases, namely New York and New Jersey, the numbers are slightly skewed due to their abnormally high populations. But that theory doesn’t explain the situation in Alaska and Rhode Island, where the populations are more fair. Sivak and Schoettle say it also begs the question: why are those same areas also earning high marks when comparing the auto fatalities to deaths overall?
The leaders on that board? Washington, D.C., where auto deaths account for 0.4% of all deaths, followed by Massachusetts (0.6%), Rhode Island (0.7%), and New Jersey and New York (tied at 0.8%).
Other states making the list of low auto-related deaths compared to overall deaths were Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.
As for the worst states for auto deaths, they included Montana, which had 22.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, followed by Mississippi and North Dakota, which were tied at 20.5 deaths. Those same states were in the top three for auto fatalities compared to overall deaths: Montana and North Dakota, road deaths account for 2.4% of all fatalities, and Mississippi had a rate of 2.0%.
Nationwide, however, traffic deaths are actually in a decline. They are far inferior to killers such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. The year of 2015, though, is predicted to come in at a higher rate of accidents again. With 89% of cars on the road needing at least one repair, that prediction may not be far off. However, researchers hope that rates will drop thanks to better safety features in newer cars.