Scared woman behind the wheel.

20 Most Dangerous States for Summer Road Trippers to Drive

Driving is the most dangerous form of transportation in the US, and high gas prices are taking a toll on bank accounts. Despite this, many Americans are eager to embark on a road trip this summer. But before nailing down your plans, you might want to reconsider being behind the wheel in these 20 states notorious for fatal car crashes.

Figuring Out the Metrics

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Statistics reported by World Population Review indicate that car accidents are the leading cause of death in every state as of 2019. World Population Review used car crash fatalities per capita in each state to rank the states from the most to the least dangerous for driving.

1: Mississippi 

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The Hospitality State sounds like a promising road trip destination, but with 25.4 car accident deaths per 100,000 people, Mississippi has the highest car crash fatalities in the nation. Seat belt wearing is reported to be a big problem in this state. A massive 50% of fatal crashes involve a person not buckled up.

2: Wyoming

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At 22 car crash fatalities per capita, Wyoming is well behind Mississippi. The number is, however, still high enough to warrant a second place. Earlier this year, there were not two, not three, but 44 vehicles involved in a pile-up that resulted in one fatality and multiple injuries. 

3: Arkansas

Bridge in the fall in Arkansas.
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Distracted and drunk driving are the two leading causes blamed for the high volume of car accidents in Arkansas, with many car crashes happening on rural roads. Out of every 100,000 people, 21.2 were fatally injured.

4: South Carolina

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World Population Review reports 962 fatal crashes and 20.7 deaths per capita in the Palmetto State. Speeding and impaired driving are the leading causes of fatal car crashes. A whopping 12% of South Carolina drivers have an at-fault car accident on record! 

5: Montana

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Open containers of alcohol were allowed in cars in Montana until 2005. Unfortunately, the state’s open container culture seems to have remained rather ingrained in its residents; over half of Montana’s car accident fatalities in 2020 were caused by drunk or intoxicated drivers. This year, 19.6 car crash fatalities per 100,000 people make Montana’s roads the fifth most dangerous.

6: New Mexico

Dirt road in New Mexico.
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Summer-loving road trippers should keep an eye out in New Mexico, as last year, July racked up the most car crash fatalities. World Population Review’s data reveals that 18.8 deaths per capita were recorded in the state. New Mexico’s Department of Traffic says driver inattention and drug involvement are the joint leading contributing factors in car accident fatalities, with alcohol involvement not far behind.  

7: Alabama

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Neck-in-neck with New Mexico, sweet home Alabama is reported to have 18.6 car crash-induced fatalities per capita. Almost half of the state’s reported fatal accidents in 2020 happened after nightfall. 

8: Louisiana

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Louisiana has a car accident fatality rate of 17.8 per 100,000 people. Intoxicated drivers and distracted drivers contribute to this high fatality rate. 

9: Tennessee

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Road trippers are well advised to keep cell phones and other distractions out of sight since fatalities caused by distracted driving in Tennessee are growing. Car crashes claim 17.6 victims per 100,000 people.

10: Kentucky

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A Kentucky news report cites officials saying that more than half of motor vehicle fatalities involved one or more victims not wearing a seatbelt. Speeding and alcohol also contribute to 17.3 car crash fatalities per 100,000 people. 

11: Oklahoma

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Statistics show the Sooner State had a rate of 16.5 fatalities caused by car crashes per 100,000 people. Drivers and passengers who forego wearing seatbelts made up a large number of those accidents that ended in fatalities.

12: Missouri

Missouri countryside.
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Missouri’s 16 fatalities per 100,000 people are higher than necessary. The Missouri Department of Transportation’s director labels crash fatalities as preventable and urges drivers to adopt better driving habits. 

13: South Dakota

Road through countryside in South Dakota.
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Just below Missouri, South Dakota has 15.9 fatalities per 100,000 people. In 2020, 62% of fatal accident drivers or front-seat occupants weren’t wearing seatbelts. 

14: Georgia

Live oaks hanging over a road in Savannah.
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The Peach State has a car crash fatality rate of 15.5 per 100,000 people. Georgia’s Department of Public Safety says driver distractions due to cell phone use is a big problem but remains a difficult law to enforce. 

15: Florida

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Florida’s stats are about as grim as Georgia’s, with a rate of 15.4 car crash fatalities per 100,000 drivers and passengers. Despite its attractive nickname, road trippers might want to avoid the Sunshine State this summer.

16: West Virginia

A bridge in West Virginia.
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As it turns out, country roads are not taking everyone home. In West Virginia, an average of 14.9 people per capita pass away in car accidents. 

17: Arizona

Road through Arizona desert.
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Not adhering to speed limits and seatbelt laws are some of the biggest reasons why car crashes in Arizona end in fatalities. The state has a car crash fatality rate of 14.7 per 100,000 people.

18: North Carolina

Road through some North Carolina mountains in the fall.
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With the same fatality rate as Arizona, many of North Carolina’s fatal accidents happen over the summer when road trippers abound.

19: Kansas

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Kansas clocks in at 14.5 car accident deaths per 100,000 people. The Kansas Department of Transportation reports that many fatality victims weren’t buckled up.

20: Texas

Road in Texas.
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Two very dangerous highways, the I-45 and I-35, are both in Texas. But even so, more than half of car crash fatalities in 2021 resulted from accidents on rural roads. Texas has a car accident fatality rate of 13.3 per 100,000 people.

The Safest States for Road Trips

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Massachusetts, New York, DC, Hawaii, and Rhode Island are statistically safer states to drive in. There’s a stark contrast when comparing their rates of 4.9 (Massachusetts) to 6.8 (Rhode Island) fatalities per 100,000 people to that of Mississippi.

Don’t Push Yourself

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No matter how statistically safe a state is for hitting the road, driving during the day and stopping to rest at night is advisable. Car accident fatalities are almost three times higher per mile of travel at night than in the daylight.

Buckle Up, Phone Down

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Car crashes are often referred to as preventable accidents. Travelers are encouraged to adopt safe driving habits to avoid jeopardizing their own and others’ lives.

Avoid Motorcycles

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Measuring in miles traveled, motorcyclists are almost 24 times more likely to end up on the wrong side of a fatal accident. So, if road-tripping is how you want to spend your summer, opt for a four-wheeled vehicle.

Most Dangerous American Cities to Drive Through

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What’s worse than driving in one of the most dangerous states in the US? Driving in one of the most dangerous states and in one of the most dangerous cities. These are the 35 most dangerous cities in America.

35 Most Dangerous American Cities Revealed

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Stay young at heart by exploring the world with these 21 must-see destinations during retirement. Options for active and low-impact travelers.

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America’s Rudest States

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Americans have a reputation overseas for being friendly. But a study by Zippia shows that Americans from certain states are downright rude. Do you live in one of them?

America’s Rudest States Ranked From 1 to 50: Where Does Your State Fall?

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Fat man looking down at camera.
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Can you name the heaviest countries in the world? Find out just how wrong you probably are.

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17 Embarrassing American Tourist Stereotypes

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Are you guilty of falling into these embarrassing American tourist stereotypes? Some are harmless, many are annoying, and a few are rude.

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