The Safest and Most Dangerous Roads on St. Patrick's Day

Written by | Updated March 12, 2019

*Rankings may change as this post is updated according to the most recent impaired driving data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Don’t count on luck to get you home safe after St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Not only do DUI citations spike on this Irish holiday, but drunk driving deaths nearly double. In 2016, there were 60 people killed on our nation’s roads over the St. Patrick’s day holiday, which accounted for 36% of all impaired driving deaths that year.¹ 

While all states have drunk drivers, some have more than others. With St. Patty’s Day approaching, we wanted to identify the states where you’re most likely to run into drunk driving danger—and the ones where the roads should be safer. To find the most dangerous states, we looked at the most recent data for impaired driving deaths from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.²

But we’re not stopping at just the facts. We’re extending our SafeWise for Safe Rides Home campaign to help folks in the ten worst states enjoy the holiday safely. Studies show that using ride-sharing services (like Uber and Lyft) can lead to a decrease in drunk driving crashes and DUIs.3

If you live in one of the most dangerous states for drunk driving deaths, we want to help you get a sober ride home this St. Patrick’s Day. See if your state landed on the list.

States with the Most Drunk Driving Deaths in 2017

StateImpaired Driving Deaths per 100,000 People
1.Wyoming7.59
2.South Carolina6.22
3.North Dakota6.08
4.New Mexico5.74
5.Alabama5.49
6.Montana5.33
7.Texas5.19
8.Mississippi4.96
9.Arkansas4.66
10.Louisiana4.53

States with the Fewest Drunk Driving Deaths

StateImpaired Driving Deaths per 100,000 People
1.New Jersey1.38
2.New York1.48
3.Minnesota1.52
4.Utah1.70
5.Massachusetts1.74
6.New Hampshire2.01
7.Washington, DC2.31
8.Washington2.40
9.Pennsylvania2.45
10.Illinois2.73

A Closer Look at Drunk Driving in the Most Dangerous States

  • 80% of the top five most dangerous states were also in the top five in 2016—Wyoming is the only newcomer, replacing Montana as the state with the most impaired driving deaths per capita.
  • Montana went from the state with the most dangerous roads (9.58 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people in 2016) to number 6, with 5.33 deaths per 100,000.
  • Wyoming climbed from eighth place (5.98 deaths/100,000) to the worst state for impaired driving fatalities, topping the list with 7.59 deaths per capita in 2017.
  • Every state in the ten worst (except Wyoming) decreased its rate of drunk driving deaths year over year in 2017.
  • 50% of the worst states have no minimum jail time for first-time DUI offenders. Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas each mandate between one and three days.4
  • The majority of US states require mandatory alcohol abuse assessment (or treatment) after a DUI conviction, but neither is required in six out of the ten worst states for drunk driving deaths.5      
  • Among the ten states with the most drunk driving deaths, the average minimum fine for the first DUI conviction is $280, compared to $436 among the ten states with the fewest drunk driving deaths. Three of the deadliest states—New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming—don’t have any minimum fine.6

Don’t push your luck this St. Patrick’s Day by risking a DUI, or worse. Make your own luck and plan for a safe, sober ride home after the fun. If you plan to raise a mug of Guinness or green beer this St. Patrick’s Day, be smart about it—use a designated driver or call a cab or ride-sharing service.

 

To help make the streets safer in the ten most dangerous states, we’re giving away $10 Lyft rides to the first 100 people from those states who register for a safe ride home over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. To apply, go to our Safe Rides Home campaign page today.

Complete Rankings

RankState
Deaths per Capita
#1Wyoming7.60
#2South Carolina6.23
#3North Dakota6.09
#4New Mexico5.75
#5Alabama5.50
#6Montana5.33
#7Texas5.19
#8Mississippi4.96
#9Arkansas4.66
#10Louisiana4.53
#11Oklahoma4.20
#12Missouri4.15
#13Kentucky4.06
#14South Dakota4.02
#15North Carolina4.02
#16Florida4.00
#17West Virginia3.97
#18Arizona3.96
#19Maine3.74
#20Tennessee3.74
#21Georgia3.51
#22Kansas3.50
#23Idaho3.49
#24Nebraska3.49
#25Connecticut3.34
#26Delaware3.33
#27Oregon3.31
#28Indiana3.30
#29Wisconsin3.28
#30Rhode Island3.21
#31Colorado3.16
#32Michigan3.12
#33Maryland3.07
#34Alaska2.97
#35Nevada2.97
#36Hawaii2.94
#37Virginia2.90
#38Vermont2.89
#39Ohio2.86
#40California2.83
#41Iowa2.80
#42Illinois2.73
#43Pennsylvania2.45
#44Washington2.40
#45DC2.31
#46New Hampshire2.01
#47Massachusetts1.75
#48Utah1.71
#49Minnesota1.52
#50New York1.49
#51New Jersey1.39

Methodology

We used newly-released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which shows the number of impaired driving deaths in each state in 2017. Then we compared that report’s numbers for each state to 2017 Census population estimates to identify the safest and most dangerous roads on St. Patrick’s Day, according to the rate of impaired driving deaths.7

Sources:

1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Put Safety First This St. Patrick’s Day: Plan a Safe Way Home, Before You Start to Drink
2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2017 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving
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. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
5. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
6. Wallet Hub, “Strictest and Most Lenient States on DUI
7. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts 2017 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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  • G Lowe

    What also would have been good data to include in this is the number of vehicles per capita.

    • http://www.reviews.org Scott T.

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ll ask our data team to look into it.