The Most (and Least) Expensive States to Drive

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5. Louisiana
> Total operating cost:
$3,699
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 845 (19th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.54 (9th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,842 (4th highest)

There are 153 motor vehicle deaths for every million miles traveled on Louisiana roads, the fifth most of any state. The high fatality rate may be one reason for the state’s high insurance costs. The average insurance premium in Louisiana is $1,842, about $500 more than the national average premium.

Louisiana motorists tend to drive more than most Americans. Cars consume about 581 gallons of gas a year, about 50 more than cars consume nationwide on average. With Louisiana’s relatively inexpensive fuel, however, residents end up paying $1,476 on gas per car annually, just slightly more than the $1,452 the average American spends.

4. New Jersey
> Total operating cost:
$3,853
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 775 (7th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.56 (12th lowest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,905 (3rd highest)

Car insurance premiums in New Jersey average $1,905 a year, the third most of any state. According to Insure.com, costly insurance is likely the result of multiple factors. New Jersey residents are more likely to sue one another than most Americans, which increases the cost of coverage for many providers. New Jersey is also subject to high rates of insurance fraud, which ultimately raises rates for all drivers in the state. Also, the high population density in the state may mean greater risk of car accidents. However, there are just 74 motor vehicle deaths per million miles traveled on New Jersey roads, the sixth least of any state.

With just 775 cars per 1,000 people, New Jersey residents drive less than most Americans. Only 80.2% of New Jersey workers drive to work, the third smallest share of any state.

3. Maryland
> Total operating cost:
$3,872
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 688 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.72 (20th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,610 (8th highest)

The general cost of goods and services in Maryland is about 11% higher than it is across the country. Perhaps at least partially for this reason drivers pay among the most in the country for repairs, insurance costs, and gasoline.

In particular, gas is expensive in the state, and Maryland drivers pay more per car than any state except for Mississippi. This is largely because of how much Maryland drivers use their cars each year. In a year, the typical vehicle travels 13,927 miles and uses 677 gallons of gas, each the second highest figure of any state in the country.

2. California
> Total operating cost:
$4,024
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 754 (6th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $3.58 (the highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $1,752 (6th highest)

California gas prices are consistently among the most expensive in the country. The state has some of the highest state and local fuel taxes and requires a special blend of gasoline intended to reduce air pollution. The reformulated gasoline requirement adds 5 to 15 cents to the price of a gallon and limits the refineries from which California can source its fuel. With limited production capacity, California motorists are particularly subject to short-term spikes in fuel prices. The average driver in the state spends $1,837 on gas per car annually, the third most in the country.

California drivers are also subject to high insurance rates. Car insurance premiums in the state are $1,752 on average, about $400 more than the national average.

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1. Michigan
> Total operating cost:
$4,654
> No. of vehicles per 1,000 people: 822 (15th lowest)
> Avg. price of gas: $2.75 (17th highest)
> Avg. insurance premium: $2,738 (the highest)

Michigan, traditionally the country’s automotive manufacturing hub, is the most expensive place in the country to drive a car. Car repairs appear to be the least expensive in the country. However, insurance and gas more than make up the difference. Michigan residents spend $1,562 on gasoline per car each year. While this is the eighth highest gas expenditure per vehicle of any state, it only amounts to one-third of Michigan’s total driver bill.

The reason gas takes up such a small portion of Michigan’s driver costs is insurance expenses. Insurance in Michigan costs to a nation-leading $2,738 per vehicle, which is more than double the national average insurance premium of $1,325. According to consumer insurance website Insure.com, Michigan is the only state in the country that requires auto insurance buyers to purchase full medical benefits as part of their policy, driving up premiums.