Best and Worst States for Drivers in 2021 Staff Profile Picture
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According to a study by AAA, Americans spend roughly 70 billion hours driving each year. However, as anyone who has driven in different parts of the country knows, the particular state or city in which you are driving can have a significant impact on the quality of your ride.

From congestion to road quality to how much a gallon of gas costs, each state offers drivers different advantages and disadvantages.

To find out which state is the best overall for drivers, as well as which ones come out on top in a variety of other categories, compared 18 different metrics to determine which states are the best and worst for drivers in 2021.


To create our list of the best states for drivers, compared all 50 states based on 17 metrics, divided in three subcategories: Safety, Car Ownership and Repair Costs, and Traffic and Infrastructure Conditions.

Each metric was graded on a 10-point scale, and weighted based on importance. We determined each state’s weighted average, which was then used to calculate an overall rank, as well as ranks for each of the three sub-categories.

Below are the 18 metrics and their corresponding weights:


  • Traffic fatalities per capita (2)

  • Speeding-related fatalities (2)

  • Seatbelt usage (1.5)

  • Legal driving age (1)

  • Car theft rates (1)

Car Ownership and Maintenance Costs

  • Average gas price (2)

  • Average annual car insurance premium (2)

  • Average car repair cost (1.5)

  • Average annual registration fees (1.5)

  • Toll roads (1)

  • Car dealerships per capita (1)

Traffic and Infrastructure Conditions

  • Average commute time (2)

  • Rush hour congestion (2)

  • Weather conditions (average annual precipitation) (1.5)

  • Road quality (1.5)

  • Bridge quality (1)

  • Infrastructure investment (1)

Best and Worst States for Drivers

Iowa ranks #1 as best state for drivers

With high scores, particularly in the safety and car ownership and maintenance cost categories, Iowa topped the list as the best state for drivers.

Across the country, California, notorious for heavy traffic, especially in the Los Angeles metro area, came in last place, making it the worst overall state for drivers.

New Jersey tops list of safest states for driving

With a rate of seatbelt usage, as well as a low rate of traffic fatalities per capita, New Jersey ranked number one as the safest state for drivers.

South Carolina came in last place in terms of safety. The state's legal driving age in this state is 16.5, and the rate of traffic fatalities per capita is among the highest in the nation, meaning drivers should be extra cautious when driving in the Palmetto State.

Costs for drivers are lowest in Wisconsin

From the price of the vehicle itself to registration fees, maintenance, and gas, there are a lot of costs associated with owning and operating a vehicle. Drivers in Wisconsin enjoy the lowest overall cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance, while California comes in as the most expensive state in which to own a car.

Utah drivers enjoy best overall traffic conditions

Thanks to limited rush hour congestion, a low average annual rate of precipitation, and high investment in road maintenance, Utah came in number one for overall traffic conditions.

Meanwhile, New Jersey, long commutes, heavy congestion, and a high average annual amount of precipitation added up to make it the worst state for traffic and road conditions.

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