Simply the Best: States with the Best Drivers in 2021

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When it comes to driving, you win by playing by the rules. Drivers in these ten states are the most respectful of traffic laws, making them the best, safest drivers in the nation.

As the country begins its gradual process of reopening, Americans are slowly reacclimating to the throes of “normal,” pre-pandemic life. With vaccination numbers rising daily, many facets of everyday life taken away by the pandemic, from working to socializing in-person, are re-establishing themselves in peoples’ lives. According to Apple Maps Mobility Trends Reports, the volume of active drivers on the roads has increased by 35 percent since January 2021.

It’s clear that Americans are getting back on the roads at a higher volume and are likely to continue doing so at increasing rates throughout 2021. Driving can be stressful at times due to congestion, erratic drivers, and less-than-ideal weather conditions. However, many drivers exist whose consideration for driving laws improves their and others’ experience on the roads. It turns out that good driving varies considerably from state to state. To see where drivers reign supreme, the research team at Insurify turned to their database to identify the states whose drivers have the cleanest records.

Heat map showing the rate of clean driving records by state in 2021.

Insights

 

  • National averages. The average state-wide share of drivers with a clean record is 78.71 percent. As of 2019, there are 229 million licensed drivers across the United States. 
  • Regional driving behavior remains consistent. Six of the ten states with the best drivers in 2021 also made Insurify’s rankings of the states with the best drivers in 2020. Michigan, the number one state in last year’s rankings, held onto its position in 2021. However, the remaining five states that made the top ten both in 2020 and 2021 did not retain their same positions; two of them rose in the rankings, while the other three secured lower spots.
  • Speeding and at-fault accidents are the most common infractions. The most frequently cited driving violations in the nation are speeding and at-fault accidents. In 27 states, speeding holds the highest infraction rate compared to other traffic citations, while at-fault accidents are the most prevalent citations in 23 states. The average state-wide shares of drivers with a speeding ticket or an at-fault accident on record are 10.60 percent and 10.93 percent, respectively.

Bar graph showing the 10 states with the highest clean driving record rates compared to the national average.

Methodology

The data scientists at Insurify, an auto insurance comparison platform, referred to their database of over 4 million car insurance applications to identify the states with the best drivers in the nation. 

Applicants disclose their state of residence and any prior violations on their driving record when applying for car insurance. Insurify’s data scientists compared the number of drivers with at least one at-fault violation on record (including accidents, DUIs, failures to stop, speeding, reckless driving, passing violations, and other citations for illegal driving behavior) to the total number of drivers applying for car insurance in each state. The states with the lowest rate of infractions, or the greatest proportion of drivers with a clean record, were identified as having the best drivers. 

The number of licensed drivers in each state was derived from the Federal Highway Administration’s 2019 estimates.

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Top 10 States with the Best Drivers 2021

1. Michigan – Share of drivers with a clean record: 86.23%

2. New York – Share of drivers with a clean record: 84.50%

3. Nevada – Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.79%

4. Mississippi – Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.73%

5. New Jersey – Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.48%

6. Kentucky – Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.41%

7. Louisiana – Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.67%

8. West Virginia – Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.62%

9. Florida – Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.50%

10. Arkansas – Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.33%

States with the Best Drivers

10. Arkansas

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.33%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 2,153,929
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

Drivers in the Wonder State have the tenth-highest rate of clean driving records in the nation. Arkansas drivers are five percent more likely to have no prior citations on their record than the average American driver. While the most prevalent infraction type in Arkansas is at-fault accidents, compared to other states’ rates, Arkansas drivers exhibit some of the safest driving behavior in the nation.

9. Florida

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.50%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 15,560,628
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

It’s nearly always a sunny day in Florida, not just because it’s the Sunshine State itself, but because it’s also home to some of the best drivers in the country. While Florida has slightly fallen in the rankings from fifth in 2020 to ninth in 2021, the state’s share of drivers with clean records is still one of the highest nationwide, five percent higher than the national average. Interestingly, while Florida drivers exhibit some of the safest driving behaviors, they also pay the second-most expensive auto insurance premiums in the nation, according to Insurify’s 2020 report.

8. West Virginia

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.62%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 1,130,389
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

West Virginia ranks eighth in the nation for having some of the best drivers on the roads. Drivers in the Mountain State have cleaner records than the average American driver by five percent. West Virginia is a newcomer to the rankings, not having made the top ten states with the best drivers list in 2020. However, it’s clear West Virginian drivers have earned their title this year, with five percent more drivers than average reporting a clean record.

7. Louisiana

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 82.67%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 3,435,168
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

Not only is Louisiana the birthplace of jazz, but it’s also home to some of the nation’s best drivers. Pelican State drivers have the seventh-highest rate of clean records in the nation Additionally, Louisiana is one of four states in the rankings that also have the highest car insurance costs: on average, Louisiana drivers pay the eighth-highest premiums in the nation.

6. Kentucky

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.41%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 3,030,329
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

Kentucky drivers are six percent less likely to be cited for a traffic violation compared to the average American driver. The Bluegrass State is home to the sixth-best drivers in the nation. While the state’s ranking in 2021 is a few notches lower than last year’s when it held the number two spot, it’s clear that Kentucky drivers are still better than average at maintaining a clean driving record.

5. New Jersey

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.48%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 6,377,413
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

This may come as a surprise to some who’ve experienced the infamous Jersey Turnpike, but New Jersey’s drivers are in fact the fifth-best in the country. The Garden State actually moved up from ninth in last year’s rankings to fifth this year, holding a six percent lead above the national average for its share of clean driving records. New Jersey’s rate of law-abiding drivers goes to show that regional stereotypes do not necessarily ring true when confronted with the data.

4. Mississippi

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.73%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 2,058,036
  • Most common driving infraction: Speeding

Mississippi clinches the fourth spot in the 2021 rankings of states with the best drivers, maintaining its general position within the top five from last year (in 2020, it ranked third). Drivers in the Magnolia State have cleaner driving records than the national average by six percent. While Mississippi drivers are most often cited for speeding compared to other infractions, their stellar rate of safe drivers has earned them high marks on the national scale.

3. Nevada

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 83.79%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 2,054,421
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

In 2021, the Silver State gets the bronze medal for its drivers, who have the third-highest rate of clean driving records in the nation. Nevada drivers are seven percent more likely to have no prior infractions on their record compared with the average driver. After coming in fourth for 2020’s rankings, drivers in Nevada have undeniably remained committed to safe driving practices in 2021. Interestingly, auto insurance in Nevada is not cheap — a report from Insurify found that Nevadan drivers pay the sixth-most expensive auto insurance rates in the nation.

2. New York

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 84.50%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 12,194,360
  • Most common driving infraction: At-fault accidents

New York is second in the nation for having the best drivers. The Empire State’s presence among the top ten comes rather unexpectedly, given that New York did not even make the rankings last year. However, with a rate of clean driving records that’s seven percent above the national average, clearly, New Yorkers have established themselves as some of the best-behaved drivers on the roads in 2021.

1. Michigan

  • Share of drivers with a clean record: 86.23%
  • Total number of licensed drivers (2019): 7,141,494 
  • Most common driving infraction: Speeding

Michigan, the reigning champion from 2020, maintains its position as the number one state in the nation with the best drivers. With a clean driving record rate that exceeds the national average by nine percent, the Great Lake State leads the country for law-abiding driving. Not only does Michigan rank first in the nation for having the best drivers, but also for the most expensive auto insurance premiums in the nation.

If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to request the data, please contact insights@insurify.com.

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