Arizona Drivers Among Worst in U.S.

Check yourself before you start cursing at that out-of-town driver.

Arizona drivers are among the worst in the nation, according to a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics conducted by the website

The state ranked sixth for dangerous drivers in 2015 after Montana, South Carolina, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. In 2014, the state ranked 14th.

To calculate the score, Tyler Spraul, the study’s author, started with each state’s fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Then he factored in the percentage of fatal crashes that involved speeding, drunk driving, and disobeying traffic laws, such as failing to follow traffic signals, not wearing seat belts, or driving without a valid license. He measured “careless driving” by analyzing the rate of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 people.

Although Arizona drivers are among the least likely to cause a fatal car accident while intoxicated (the state ranked 47th for drunk driving), by Spraul’s reckoning, when sober, they are the third most careless. In 2015, according to NHTSA data, the state’s motorists killed 151 pedestrians and 31 bicyclists.

A higher percentage of Arizona’s fatal accidents were caused by a failure to obey traffic laws than all but six other states. More than 13 percent of fatal crashes involved drivers who weren’t properly licensed, according to the NHTSA. About 29 percent involved drivers who ignored traffic signals. Thirty-four percent were speed related.

Overall, traffic fatalities across the country rose 8.1 percent between 2014 and 2015. In Arizona, state officials recorded 596 fatalities during the first eight months of 2014, which is just under 80 percent of the total from 2014.

NGTSA Administrator Mark Rosenkind, during a recent press briefing, attributed the rise to falling gas prices, which encourage more drivers to hit the road.

“Commonly we see more driving — and therefore more lives lost — as the economy grows,” he said. 

So where are the nation's safest drivers? 

Spraul gave Minnesota top honors, followed by Ohio, Vermont, Iowa, Nebraska, and Virginia. 

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Elizabeth Stuart
Contact: Elizabeth Stuart