Special Report

The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

30. Delaware
> Total operating cost:
$3,315
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,023 (9th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.67 (18th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,542 (12th highest)

Across most states, gas expenditure accounted for over half of total vehicle operating expenses. In Delaware, however, it accounted for less than 40%, the fourth lowest such percentage in the nation. Drivers in the state put relatively few miles on their vehicles annually, and gas prices were below-average, bringing the total annual gas expenditure to $1,322, nearly the lowest gas expenditure nationwide. At 46.5%, insurance costs were the largest contributor to total expenses. Car owners paid $1,542 per year for insurance, on average, the 12th highest premium in the country. Maintenance and repairs were also relatively expensive in Delaware. The average annual cost of engine and emissions system repairs was $451, higher than in any other state.

29. South Dakota
> Total operating cost:
$3,318
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 1,202 (3rd highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.74 (25th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,180 (20th lowest)

South Dakota residents were more likely than most Americans to own multiple vehicles. There were 1.2 vehicles in the state per person, the third ratio in the country. There were more cars than people in only nine other states. South Dakota residents did not drive as much as other Americans, however. For each registered vehicle, drivers travelled fewer than 9,000 miles, the sixth lowest annual mileage. Average miles per gallon, on the other hand, was 14.19, far less efficient than the national average of 17.7 miles per gallon. While South Dakota drivers record poor fuel efficiency on average, but also tend to drive less, annual gas prices were in line with the national average.

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28. Alabama
> Total operating cost:
$3,386
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 990 (11th highest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.47 (3rd lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,320 (21st highest)

The low cost of gas in Alabama of just $2.47 may have resulted in drivers taking longer road trips. Drivers in the state added 13,588 miles on average to their vehicles each year, the seventh longest distance travelled compared to other states. Despite the longer than average distances traveled, the total annual gas expenditure was below average, although gas expenditure still accounted for about half of the total vehicle operating costs in Alabama. Driving more often also increases the probability of vehicle accidents. There were 17.6 fatalities on the road per 100,000 Alabama residents, the fifth highest rate nationwide.

27. Rhode Island
> Total operating cost:
$3,392
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 811 (16th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.79 (18th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,656 (7th highest)

Relatively efficient driving helped lower the total annual costs of operating a vehicle in Rhode Island. Despite the above-average gas price of $2.79 per gallon, total annual gas expenditure per vehicle was $1,345, nearly the lowest nationwide. The average vehicle travelled 18.87 miles on a gallon of gas, which was the 11th most efficient usage. Each vehicle consumed just 483 gallons annually, the second lowest consumption level nationwide. The high insurance cost in the state, at an average of $1,656 annually, was the largest contributor to total driving costs, accounting for 48.8% of overall annual operating expenses. This was also the third largest such contribution compared to other states.

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26. Indiana
> Total operating cost:
$3,406
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 848 (23rd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.66 (16th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,033 (11th lowest)

Gas usage accounted for the bulk of vehicle operating expenses in most states. This was especially the case in Indiana, where gas expenditure accounted for more than 58% of the total cost of owning a car, one of the highest such contributions. While gas in Indiana was cheaper than in most states, state car owners drove an average of 14,049 miles per year, more than residents in all but three other states. Cars in Indiana were relatively efficient, getting an average of 18.89 miles per gallon, the 10th most efficient rate in the country. Still, good efficiency did not sufficiently lower the average gas expenditure, which amounted to nearly $2,000 — the 15th highest annual cost of gas in the nation.