The safest places to drive in the nation are the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, but West Virginia, South Carolina, North Dakota and Wyoming are among the worst states.
Those are the results of a new report that found that while road safety in the United States has improved substantially in the last decade — road fatalities across the nation are down about 23 percent since 2005 – fatality rates vary greatly by region.
Traffic death rates are generally higher in the Northern Plains and southern states than in the Northeast, Midwest and West, according to “Road Safety in the Individual U.S. States: Current Status and Recent Changes,” released last month by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) in Ann Arbor.
The report examined individual fatality rates based on distance driven and population, and graphically shows the recent status and changes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2012 (the latest year for which federal data is available) and 2005 (a recent peak).
“This is a novel study,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI and the author of the report. “Prior to my study, there did not exist a comprehensive evaluation of the variability among the individual states in terms of different indexes of road safety.”
The analysis was based on data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Minnesota have the lowest fatality rates per miles driven, according to the report, while the highest are in West Virginia, South Carolina and Montana. The lowest fatality rates based on population are in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New York. The highest rates are in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
In addition to the current status of each state and the District of Columbia based on the death toll on distance driven and population, the report also looked at individual improvements of those measures between the years 2005 and 2012.
The greatest reductions during those years occurred in the District of Columbia and Nevada, according to the report. However, road safety worsened Vermont and North Dakota.