- A new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reveals the safest and most dangerous places to drive in the U.S.
- The study shows that D.C. and Massachusetts are the safest places to drive, while West Virginia and North Dakota are among the most dangerous.
- According to the study, road fatalities in the U.S. have dropped 22.7 percent overall since 2005.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan — A new study shows that the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are the safest places to drive in the U.S., while West Virginia and North Dakota rank among the most dangerous.
The study, Road Safety in the Individual U.S. States: Current Status and Recent Changes was published by researcher Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
It is based on data recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, compiled from calendar year 2012, the latest year for which the information is available.
Sivak took into account both the number of fatalities per distance driven and the fatality rate per population, and by either measure the District of Columbia and Massachusetts proved safest.
D.C. had 4.20 traffic deaths per billion miles driven and 2.37 per 100,000 people, while Massachusetts had 6.24 fatalities per billion miles and 5.25 per 100,000 people.
When it comes to distance-based fatalities, West Virginia was determined to be the most dangerous state, with 17.63 traffic deaths per billion miles. And based on fatalities per population, North Dakota was the most dangerous at 24.30 fatalities per 100,000 people.
Looking at just the raw data — exclusive of either distance or population — the District of Columbia again had the fewest fatalities (15), followed by Alaska (59) and Rhode Island (64). At the bottom of the list are Texas (3,398), California (2,857) and Florida (2,424).
Overall, notes the study: "Road fatalities in the U.S. have dropped substantially. The data for 2012 show a reduction of 22.7 percent since 2005 (NHTSA, 2007; 2014). Reductions of similar magnitudes were also achieved for fatalities per distance driven and fatalities per population."
According to the study, the areas with the largest reductions in total fatalities since 2005 were the District of Columbia (-68.8 percent), Nevada (-39.6 percent) and Mississippi (-37.5 percent). Those that experienced the greatest increases in highway deaths were North Dakota (+38.2 percent), Vermont (+5.5 percent) and Maine (+3.0 percent).
According to NHTSA, there were a total of 33,561 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2012. And even though the UMTRI study points out the overall decrease since 2005, NHTSA reports that the 2012 figure is an increase of 3 percent from 2011, after steady reductions for the prior six straight years.
Edmunds says: The study reveals some interesting statistics about various regions, but it pays to remain on guard everywhere.