The Safest and Most Dangerous Roads on New Year’s

us map showing states with the most and fewest impaired driving deaths

Next to Mardi Gras, people consume the most drinks on average during the New Year’s holiday, with an average of 43.5% of the population binge drinking.1

SafeWise wants to help you ring in the New Year with class and grace, so we’re helping you get home safe. We’re giving away $10 Lyft vouchers to the first 100 people who register for our Safe Rides Home campaign.

Even if you don’t qualify for our voucher, you can still save yourself the $6,500 or more you’d spend on a DUI by instead hailing a ride from companies like Lyft, taking public transport, or asking a friend to be the designated driver.2

Our Safe Rides Home campaign promotes alternative forms of transportation, which on nights like New Year’s Eve are more than necessary for anyone having a drink or two. It’s smarter to avoid driving drunk than risk the consequences.

Between Christmas and New Year’s in 2018, there were 285 drunk-driving-related fatalities. And a total of 10,511 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, which accounts for a third of deaths on roads every year.3 These deaths are 100% preventable.

States with most drunk driving deaths

2019 Rank

State

Impaired Driving Deaths per 100,000

2018 Rank

1

Montana

7.44

6

2

Wyoming

5.89

1

3

South Carolina

5.72

2

4

Mississippi

5.46

8

5

New Mexico

5.15

4

6

South Dakota

5.10

14

7

Alabama

5.03

5

8

Texas

5.01

7

9

Louisiana

4.64

10

10

Arkansas

4.45

9

Based on fatal crashes where the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level was .08+.

States with fewest drunk driving deaths

2019 Rank

State

Impaired Driving Deaths per 100,000

2018 Rank

51

District of Columbia

1.28

45

49

New Jersey

1.40

51

48

New York

1.57

50

47

Massachusetts

1.74

47

46

Minnesota

1.87

49

45

Rhode Island

1.89

30

44

Utah

1.93

48

43

Maryland

2.02

33

42

Washington

2.20

44

41

Vermont

2.40

38

Based on fatal crashes where the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level was .08+.

Drunk driving in the most dangerous states

Since we last reported on the most dangerous states for impaired driving, a lot’s changed. We’ll catch you up on some of the more notable differences from the 2017 to 2018 data.

On the right track

The most significant improvement came from Kentucky, which previously ranked #13 for most dangerous but now sits better-than-average at #30. In another great leap towards safety, Rhode Island dropped in ranking from #30 to #46. Great job to both of these states for their significant improvement.

(Remember, a lower-numbered ranking means a lower number of driving deaths).

The following states also saw notable improvements from 2017 to 2018:

  • North Dakota (#3 to #16)
  • West Virginia (#17 to #28) 
  • Maryland (#33 to #44)
  • Maine (#19 to #29)
  • Kansas (#22 to #31)

Slow your roll

Montana topped the list as the most dangerous state for impaired driving, going from #6 in 2017 to #1 in 2018.

But the biggest increase in dangerous driving came from New Hampshire, which increased in danger by 25 rankings. New Hampshire went from being one of the safest states for driving to worse than average.

Alaska’s problem got worse too. The great northern state’s ranking rose from #34 in 2017 to #13 in 2018.

The following states also saw a notable increase in drunk driving fatalities:

  • Oregon (#27 to #18)
  • South Dakota (#6 to #14)
  • Colorado (#31 to #26)
  • Iowa (#36 to #41)
  • Pennsylvania (#43 to #38)

What else did we learn?

  • The southern states (minus Georgia and Florida) ranging from South Carolina to New Mexico feature some of the most dangerous roads for impaired drivers.
  • East Coast drivers can feel assured their states are some of the safest roads in the US.

If you’re in an at-risk state, make sure to sign up for our Safe Rides Home initiative.

Complete rankings

2019 Rank

2018 Rank

Difference*

State

Impaired Driving Deaths per 100,000

1

6

5

Montana

7.44

2

1

-1

Wyoming

5.89

3

2

-1

South Carolina

5.72

4

8

4

Mississippi

5.46

5

4

-1

New Mexico

5.15

6

14

8

South Dakota

5.1

7

5

-2

Alabama

5.03

8

7

-1

Texas

5.01

9

10

1

Louisiana

4.64

10

9

-1

Arkansas

4.45

11

15

4

North Carolina

4.05

12

18

6

Arizona

3.97

13

34

21

Alaska

3.93

14

12

-2

Missouri

3.92

15

16

1

Florida

3.82

16

3

-13

North Dakota

3.82

17

11

-6

Oklahoma

3.68

18

27

9

Oregon

3.65

19

20

1

Tennessee

3.59

20

21

1

Georgia

3.56

21

46

25

New Hampshire

3.54

22

29

7

Wisconsin

3.42

23

24

1

Nebraska

3.42

24

28

4

Indiana

3.39

25

23

-2

Idaho

3.31

26

31

5

Colorado

3.3

27

25

-2

Connecticut

3.22

28

17

-11

West Virginia

3.16

29

19

-10

Maine

3.14

30

13

-17

Kentucky

3.07

31

22

-9

Kansas

3.02

32

26

-6

Delaware

2.9

33

35

2

Nevada

2.87

34

37

3

Virginia

2.82

35

40

5

California

2.7

36

41

5

Iowa

2.69

37

32

-5

Michigan

2.67

38

43

5

Pennsylvania

2.61

39

39

0

Ohio

2.52

40

36

-4

Hawaii

2.46

41

42

1

Illinois

2.43

42

38

-4

Vermont

2.4

43

44

1

Washington

2.2

44

33

-11

Maryland

2.02

45

48

3

Utah

1.93

46

30

-16

Rhode Island

1.89

47

49

2

Minnesota

1.87

48

47

-1

Massachusetts

1.74

49

50

1

New York

1.57

50

51

1

New Jersey

1.4

51

45

-6

District of Columbia

1.28

*A negative number indicates that the state's ranking decreased year over year, which means they are safer compared to last year. A positive number indicates that the state's ranking increased year over year, which means they are more dangerous compared to last year.

Get a safe ride home on New Year's Eve

Let’s start off the New Year rolling in style. Whether you’re driving around for the holidays or your daily commute, we can all make an effort to be safer.

Our Safe Rides Home campaign promotes alternative forms of transportation for impaired individuals, so help us spread the word. And see if you qualify for one of our $10 Lyft vouchers too.

We wish you a happy 2020—cheers!

Methodology

We sourced data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association to determine which states had the most impaired driving deaths. We counted all crashes in 2018 (the most recent data) involving drivers with a BAC level of .08 or above. We then compared these with the state’s population in 2018 to find how many deaths per 100,000 residents there were.

Related pages on SafeWise


Sources

  1. Alcohol.org, “Booziest Holidays
  2. DrivingLaws.org, “How Much Does a First Offense DUI Cost?
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Association, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Association, “Fatality Analysis Reporting System
  5. United States Census Bureau, “2018 National and State Population Estimates
Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past eight. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime reports and spotting trends. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, NPR, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips.

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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.