infographic of states with the most impaired driving deaths

The days are getting shorter, school bells are ringing, and Labor Day weekend festivities are almost upon us. Along with the last BBQs of the season, Labor Day also brings more impaired drivers to our nation’s roads. The number one cause of death for Americans aged five to twenty-four is car crashes—and nearly one-third of fatal crashes in 2016 were caused by impaired driving. In fact, there was one alcohol-related driving fatality every 50 minutes.

This is why our team decided to find out which states may have the most dangerous roads this Labor Day weekend. We used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and census data to identify which states have the most (and fewest) fatalities due to impaired driving crashes.¹

States with the Most Impaired Driving Fatalities

State Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100,000
1. Montana 9.15
2. South Carolina 7.98
3. North Dakota 7.28
4. New Mexico 7.10
5. Alabama 6.60

States with the Fewest Impaired Driving Fatalities

State Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100,000
1. New York 1.65
2. Utah 1.94
3. New Jersey 1.97
4. Rhode Island 2.08
5. Minnesota 2.12

A Closer Look at Impaired Driving in the Worst States

  • A higher population doesn’t mean more impaired driving deaths—New York state (population 19,836,286) had the fewest deaths in 2016, and Montana (population 1,038,656) had the most.
  • MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has rated Montana as the state with the most work to do when it comes to cracking down on drunk driving.²
  • South Carolina had the highest total number of impaired driving deaths, with 396.
  • North Dakota is the fourth least-populous state in the country, but still had the third-highest rate of impaired driving deaths.
  • Three of the five worst states for impaired driving fatalities don’t require ignition interlocks for drivers convicted of DUI.
  • Multiple studies have shown a correlation between the use of ride-sharing services (like Lyft and Uber) and a decrease in DUIs and impaired driving crashes.³

Impaired driving is a real threat, but the good news is there’s something we can do about it. Always have a designated driver, call a cab, or use a ride-sharing service to take you home. To help you enjoy this Labor Day weekend safely, SafeWise is sponsoring $1,000 in Lyft gift certificates. If you live in one of the worst states for impaired driving, you could receive a $10 gift card to help you get a safe, sober ride home over Labor Day weekend.

Check out our Safe Rides Home campaign, and apply today. If you don’t live in one of the worst states, you can still contribute by sharing on social media or sending to any friends and family who call those states home.

Impaired Driving Fatalities By State

Impaired Driving Fatalities per 100,000

1. Montana 9.15
2. South Carolina 7.98
3. North Dakota 7.28
4. New Mexico 7.10
5. Alabama 6.60
6. South Dakota 6.27
7. Texas 5.98
8. Wyoming 5.98
9. Louisiana 5.72
10. Mississippi 5.49
11. Idaho 5.30
12. Oklahoma 5.10
13. Maine 5.04
14. Arkansas 5.02
15. Alaska 4.99
16. Vermont 4.97
17. Missouri 4.94
18. Kentucky 4.87
19. Florida 4.78
20. North Carolina 4.67
21. Delaware 4.51
22. West Virginia 4.37
23. Nebraska 4.30
24. Tennessee 4.21
25. Oregon 4.21
26. Georgia 4.20
27. Arizona 4.18
28. Wisconsin 4.17
29. Iowa 4.02
30. Nevada 3.88
31. Kansas 3.68
32. New Hampshire 3.67
33. Indiana 3.63
34. Colorado 3.53
35. Connecticut 3.43
36. Ohio 3.36
37. California 3.17
38. Virginia 2.98
39. Michigan 2.96
40. Illinois 2.92
41. Pennsylvania 2.89
42. Hawaii 2.80
43. Maryland 2.59
44. Washington 2.55
45. Massachusetts 2.29
46. Minnesota 2.12
47. Rhode Island 2.08
48. New Jersey 1.97
49. Utah 1.94
50. New York 1.65

Methodology

To identify the states with the highest numbers of impaired driving deaths per capita, we started with NHTSA data on impaired driving deaths in each state. Then we normalized that data using state population numbers from the US Census Bureau.⁴

Sources:

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving
  2. MADD, “2018 Report to the Nation
  3. EconPapers, City University of New York Graduate Center, “New York City Drunk Driving After Uber”; SSRN, Fox School of Business Research Paper, “Show Me the Way to Go Home: An Empirical Investigation of Ride Sharing and Alcohol Related Motor Vehicle Homicide”; SSRN, Western Carolina University, “Ride-Sharing, Fatal Crashes, and Crime”; American Journal of Epidemiology, “Uber and Metropolitan Fatalities in the United States” MOLL Law Group, “Ride-Sharing Impact on Drunk Driving
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving”; US Census Bureau, “State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010–2017

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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