Health

Ranked: The Best And Worst States For Teen Drivers

How does your state rank?

Between general inexperience, texting, distractions and impulse control, there’s no question that—statistically speaking—teenage drivers present a safety risk to themselves and others, with motor vehicle deaths consistently cited as the No. 1 cause of death for people ages 16 to 19.

But it turns out that where you live can have a significant impact on the safety (and cost) of new drivers. A recent study from WalletHub analyzed every state using 21 different metrics, from the number of teen driver fatalities to average cost of car repairs to presence of impaired-driving laws, the report says. The result? A ranking of the best and worst states for teen drivers.

Each state was ranked using a combination of three indicators: safety, economic environment and driving laws. For safety, each state could receive a total of 50 points; this section included things like teen DUI rates and driving schools per capita.

For economic environment, a state could receive a total of 20 points; this portion of the assessment included things like maximum costs of different kinds of tickets, average gas prices and policy increases.

Finally, a state could receive a total of 30 points for driving laws; this section included leniency towards DUIs in a state and how prevalent laws governing things such as red light cameras and texting while driving were. This combined for a possible 100 total points—the more points given, the higher the state’s safety rating.

Want to see how your state stacks up? Check out the map below to get a visual on the rankings, then read on to learn more about how your state fares.

Source: WalletHub

50. Montana

Montana, you may be beautiful but you’re a state full of rotten teen drivers. Receiving a total score of just 22.12 points (yikes!), Montana ranked 48 out of 50 for both safety and driving laws, and 42 out of 50 for economic environment. On top of that, Montana ties with Mississippi for the most teen driver fatalities in the country.

49. Wyoming

Another poor performer, Wyoming scored just 23.53 points total out of a possible 100. It ranked dead last for safety and economic environment, and 45 out of 50 for driving laws. Additionally, it is one of the states where adding a teen driver to your car insurance will cost you the most, one of the states where teen driver fatalities are most prevalent AND tied for the most teen DUIs. So if you have a teen driver in this state, keep an extra sharp eye on them.

48. North Dakota

North Dakota earned 26.11 out 100 total points for overall driving. It scored 49 out of 50 for safety, 45 out of 50 for economic environment and 42 out of 50 for driving laws. On top of that, it ranks 47 out of 50 for highest cost of driving-related repairs and ties for most teen DUIs in the country.

47. South Dakota

This Dakota fared only a little better than its neighbor, earning 29.85 points out of 100. While it ranks relatively high for economic environment (16 out of 50!) it comes in dead last for driving laws and 42 out of 50 for safety. And again, it ties with North Dakota and Wyoming for most teen DUIs.

46. Nebraska

There’s a pretty big jump between South Dakota and Nebraska for points, since the 46th state in the ranking comes in at 35.49 out of 100. While Nebraska scored a reasonable 28 out of 50 for economic environment, it choked on safety and driving laws, coming in at 46 out of 50 and 44 out of 50, respectively.

nebraska car photo
Getty Images | Spencer Platt

45. Missouri

Missouri only just eked out a spot higher than Nebraska, scoring 36.55 points out of 100. Again, this state scored exceptionally well for economic environment (14 out of 50) but did poorly on safety and driving laws, coming in at 43 and 47 out of 50, respectively. It’s also grouped with the eight other states that have the fewest drivers licensing program laws in the country.

44. Mississippi

Mississippi scored 38.14 out of 100 overall and, again ranked high for economic environment (meaning: it’s costly for teens to drive here), coming in at 10 out of 50. But it scored at the bottom (47 out of 50) for safety and not especially well for driving laws either (38 out of 50). It also ties with Montana for the most teen driving fatalities out of all 50 states.

43. Idaho

Idaho earned a total of 39.98 points out of 100, and was kept near the bottom of this ranking by a mixture of poor and mediocre scores all around. It ranked 39 out of 50 for safety, 49 out of 50 for economic environment and 41 out of 50 for driving laws.

idaho highway photo
Flickr | Dougtone

42. Iowa

Iowa had pretty middle-of-the-road scores overall, giving it a total of 41.87 points out of 50. It scored decently well in economic environment (20 out of 50) and fine in safety (34 out of 50) but poorly in driving laws (46 out of 50).

41. Oklahoma

Oklahoma scored 44.59 points out of 100, and was dragged down the rankings entirely because of its very poor safety score–47 out of 50. It scored a shocking 3 out of 50 for economic environment and a passable 27 out of 50 for driving laws, but because it’s the 47th-worst state for teen driver fatalities, it’s relegated to the bottom 10. Yikes.

40. Arizona

This state scored 46.48 out of 100 points, rounding out the bottom 10 states for teen drivers. Arizona did not perform especially well in any of the categories, scoring a 32 out of 50 for safety, a 41 out of 50 for economic environment and a 37 out of 50 for driving laws.

phoenix highway photo
Flickr | squeaks2569

39. Vermont

Vermont scored 47.12 points out of 100, and was pulled down the ranking list by a bad score on economic environment (43 out of 50). It scored a 27 out of 50 for safety and a 39 out of 50 for driving laws. It could be worse, but it also could be better.

38. Alabama

Alabama only just beat out Vermont for spot #38, coming in at 47.75 total points. With a 42 out of 50 for safety and a 32 out of 50 for economic environment, a ranking of 20 out of 50 for driving laws is what keeps this state out of the bottom 10. Another minus—it’s one of the bottom eight states when it comes to teen driving laws.

37. Wisconsin

Another close call—Wisconsin earned a total of 47.98 points, due to “meh” rankings in safety and driving laws (38 out of 50 and 32 out of 50, respectively). A 13 out of 50 ranking for economic environment rescues the overall score for Wisconsin.

milwaukee highway photo
Flickr | compujeramey

36. Arkansas

This state earned 48.56 total points, thanks to a rotten showing in safety—where it ranked 40 out of 50. A high score in economic environment (6 out of 50, meaning it’s relatively inexpensive to have a teen driver in the state) helps rescue this state’s rep, seeing as it only ranks 30 out of 50 for driving laws.

35. Ohio

Ohio earned a total of 49.14 points out of 100, thanks to its exceptional safety score ( No. 3 out of 50!). Unfortunately, it ranked second-to-last for driving laws at 49 out of 50, and at 33 out of 50 for economic environment. As someone who has traversed the I-76/I-80 corridor too many times, I would agree this state needs more traffic laws!

34. Pennsylvania

The first state to crack 50 points (squeaking in at 50.65 out of 100), Pennsylvania earned reasonably high marks for safety, coming in at 19 out of 50, but just ranked just 40 out of 50 for driving laws and 30 out of 50 for economic environment.

33. Florida

Florida only scored marginally higher than Pennsylvania overall, coming in at 50.82 points. The state ranked 13th out of 50 for safety and a reasonable 24 out of 50 for economic environment. A plus–it ranks 4 out of 50 for the fewest teen DUIs, but unfortunately, it only received a 43 out of 50 ranking for driving laws, which explains the mediocre overall ranking.

palm beach street photo
Flickr | formulanone

32. Colorado

Another close call–Colorado scored 50.88 points out of 100, thanks to a nasty 41 out of 50 safety ranking. It also fares poorly for economic environment, scoring 38 out of 50. A ranking of 14 out of 50 for driving laws redeems the state overall, however, leaving it at 32 overall out of 50 states.

31. New Mexico

New Mexico earns 51.96 points out of 100 thanks to a ranking of 13 out of 50 for driving laws. Middling scores of 37 out of 50 and 34 out of 50 for safety and economic environment, respectively, drag this state’s reputation for teen drivers down.

30. Nevada

Rounding out the bottom 20 states for teen drivers is Nevada, scoring 52.11 points out of 100. It ranks 20 out of 50 for safety (perhaps they docked points for getting distracted by glittery casinos?), and 26 out of 50 for economic environment but only 35 out of 50 for driving laws.

29. Kansas

Kansas only barely squeaked out of the bottom 20, earning 52.25 points out of 100. Though it ranked 19 out of 50 for both economic environment and driving laws, it only scored 36 out of 50 for safety.

28. Indiana

Indiana only fared a tiny bit better than Kansas in overall points, coming in at 52.63 out of 100. Why? Well, a mediocre ranking in driving laws (32 out of 50) and an only slightly improved safety ranking (23 out of 50) could not entirely rescue an 18 out of 50 ranking for economic environment. Despite its slogan, the “Crossroads of America” is not among the best places for teen drivers.

interstate 465 indiana photo
Flickr | Dougtone

27. South Carolina

South Carolina earned 53.34 total points out of 100 thanks to middling scores all around. It ranked lowest for economic environment, at 27 out of 50, at 25 out of 50 for driving laws and 24 out of 50 for safety. Not bad, but not great.

26. Maine

Maine eked out the 26th spot in this ranking with a total score of 53.53 out of 100. While it did OK in driving laws (21 out of 50), its scores for economic environment (36 out of 50) and safety (30 out of 50) were decidedly mediocre. Maybe everyone is too distracted by the beautiful views to drive safely?

25. Kentucky

Kentucky scored 54.45 total points in this ranking, coming in at the 25th safest (or most dangerous, depending on how you look at it) state for teen drivers. It ranked high for economic environment (12th out of 50), but ranked 29th out of 50 for driving laws and 21st out of 50 for safety.

24. Texas

Not everything is bigger in Texas—the Lone Star state only scored 54.54 total points in this ranking. Though it scored a 9 out of 50 for economic environment, a disappointing 29 out of 50 for safety and 24 out of 50 for driving laws push it down the list.

23. New Hampshire

New Hampshire scored a total of 55.15 points overall, thanks to a fantastic 9 out of 50 for safety. Where does this state fall down? A third-to-last place finish in economic environment, with a 48 out of 50 ranking—ouch! A middle of the road 25 out of 50 for driving laws evens things out, but apparently having a teen driver in your family will cost you in this state.

22. West Virginia

West Virginia scored 55.76 points out of 100, largely thanks to ranking 10 out of 50 for driving laws and 15 out of 50 for economic environment. Unfortunately, a 35 out of 50 ranking for safety drags this state much farther down the list.

21. Minnesota

This polite northern state earned a total of 55.89 points out of 100. It ranked eighth out of 50 for economic environment, 17 out of 50 for safety (I bet they always use their turn signals there!) and 27 out of 50 for driving laws.

20. Virginia

Cracking the top 20 states is Virginia, scoring 56.05 total points. This state gets a big bump from ranking 9 out of 50 in terms of safety but falls down in the other categories. It ranks 35 out of 50 for economic environment (perhaps skewed by the expensive nature of living near DC?) and 31 out of 50 for driving laws.

19. Utah

It’s somewhat surprising that Utah makes it into the top 20 with a total score of 56.11 points. Why? Because although it ranks 9 out of 50 for driving laws, it only ranks 26 out of 50 for safety and a lousy 44 out of 50 for economic environment.

highway utah photo
Getty Images | George Frey

18. Hawaii

Hawaii earns a total of 56.88 points out of 100, but tread carefully when setting a teen free on the roads over there. Beautiful as it is, Hawaii only ranks 31 out of 50 for safety (maybe because all of the roads are so windy and terrifying?). It does rank 18 out of 50 for driving laws and 7 out of 50 for economic environment, though.

17. Tennessee

With a total points score of 56.94 out of 100, Tennessee ranks a wimpy 37th out of 50 for economic environment and just 25th out of 50 for safety. What saves it? An 8 out of 50 for driving laws.

16. Michigan

Michigan earns 57.03 points out of 100, and sailed to the top 16 of the overall rankings thanks to its no. 1 spot on the list for economic environment. It’s the no. 1 state in America for low-cost car repairs, which is crucial when it comes to adding another driver to your household. Michigan also ranks a respectable 18 out of 50 for safety but only a 34 out of 50 for driving laws.

15. Connecticut

Connecticut scored 58.76 total points out of 100, thanks to a 10 out of 50 ranking for safety. It also ranks 23rd out of 50 for driving laws and 29 out of 50 for economic environment.

14. North Carolina

North Carolina earned 59.14 points out of 100 and was buffeted to the top 15 safest states for teen drivers thanks to a 2 out of 5o ranking for economic environment (meaning adding a teen driver to your household there won’t break the bank). It also earned a 16 out of 50 for driving laws, but unfortunately, only earned a 28 out of 50 for safety.

13. Massachusetts

Massachusetts only barely beat out North Carolina for spot No. 13 with a total score of 59.24 points. It scores high for safety, ranking 4 out of 50 but not as well in the other categories—36 out of 50 for driving laws and 23 out of 50 for economic environment. On the plus side it ranks 4 out of 50 for lowest number of fatalities for teen drivers, so that’s a definite bonus.

12. Rhode Island

This tiny state ekes out just ahead of its neighbor, Massachusetts, with a total score of 59.91 out of 100 points. It ranks 7 out of 50 for driving laws, and 15 out of 50 for safety but not at all well for economic environment—ranking 47 out of 50. It does have the fewest fatalities for teen drivers out of any state and is one of the best states for safety-related driver’s license laws.

11. Alaska

Just shy of the Top 10 states for teen drivers, Alaska earned 59.93 points out of 100. While it earned high marks in safety and driving laws (ranking 14 out of 50 and 12 out of 50, respectively), a poor 40 out of 50 ranking for economic environment keeps it down. On the plus side, it’s fifth out of 50 for fewest teen driver fatalities per teen population.

10. Georgia

Cracking the top 10, Georgia scored 60.32 total points out of 100. It ranked 11 out of 50 for driving laws, 16 out of 50 for safety and 21 out of 50 for economic environment.

9. New Jersey

New Jersey scored 60.53 points out of 100, thanks to a 7 out of 50 ranking for safety. Ranking 22 out of 50 in both driving laws and economic environment, however, brought its place on this list down somewhat.

8. Delaware

Delaware earned 61.31 total points in this ranking, largely thanks to a 5 out of 50 spot on stringent driving laws. But a 22 out of 50 for safety, and a 31 out of 50 for economic environment are less stellar. Luckily, it has the second-fewest teen driver DUIs out of all 50 states, so that’s good news.

7. California

California earned 62.52 points out of 100 total. It scored 5 out of 50 for safety, but 16 out of 50 for driving laws and a crummy 39 out of 50 for economic environment.

6. Louisiana

Louisiana scored 62.55 out of 100 points, and while it performed well in driving laws (3 out of 50) and economic environment (5 out of 50),  it did not fare so well in safety, coming in at 33rd out of all 50 states.

5. Washington

Topping out at 64.42 points, Washington state was No. 1 on the rankings for strict driving laws. But it only ranked 12 out of 50 for safety, and a truly awful 46 out of 50 for economic environment (read: it’ll cost you an arm and a leg for your teen to drive here). Despite this, it’s still in the top five states for teen drivers.

washington state highway photo
Flickr | theslowlane

4. Maryland

Against all odds (no thanks to the Beltway), Maryland earned 66.63 points out of 100. It ranked 2 out of 50 for safety, 11 out of 50 for economic environment and 15 out of 50 for driving laws.

3. Illinois

Illinois (my home state!) is in the top three for teen drivers, earning 66.69 points out of a possible 100. Ranked 6 out of 50 for both safety and driving laws, it comes in at 17 out of 50 for economic environment. It’s also number one for fewest teen DUIs in the country!

2. Oregon

Coming in at number two, Oregon scored 68.57 total points, thanks to its second place ranking for strict driving laws and an 8 out of 50 ranking for safety. It only comes in at 25 out of 50 for economic environment though.

1. New York

And if the number one safest state for teen drivers surprises you, you’re not alone. New York earned 77.32 out of 100 points, scored first out of 50 for safety and fourth out of 50 for both economic environment and driving laws. It comes in fifth out of all 50 states for fewest teen DUIs, second out of 50 for fewest teen driver fatalities and second out of 50 thanks in part to having the lowest premium increase when adding a teen driver to your insurance policy.

So there you have it. What do you think about your state’s ranking?