Special Report

The States That Have the Most Reckless Drivers

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With about 287 million registered vehicles on U.S. roads — most of them private passenger cars — accidents are an unavoidable reality of modern life. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a high number of them that actually could be avoided, including those caused by knucklehead drivers who speed, weave in and out of traffic, and ignore other rules of the road.

One way to measure the incidents of reckless driving is to count the numbers of citations issued for reckless driving violations. Nationally, the rate averages about 18 per 10,000 drivers, according to one analysis of car insurance applications. But that rate is much lower in some states, and more than three times higher in North Dakota and Virginia — the latter of which is the state with the most reckless drivers. (And these are the most dangerous cities for driving.)

To determine this and identify the other states where reckless driving has increased most since the onset of the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data compiled by Insurif, an auto insurance comparison site, based on their database of over 2.5 million car insurance applicants. Relative increase in driving was determined based on the period between March 30th and September 12th of 2020. (The average national rate of increase was 211%.)

Click here to see which states have the most reckless drivers

Reckless driving rates tend to be higher in sparsely populated areas. This may be because drivers are less inclined to pay attention to the road or obey traffic laws when there are fewer people around them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities involve speeding, something drivers are more inclined to do when there are fewer drivers on the road. (Your odds of being injured may decrease if you drive one of the safest new cars for 2021.)

Driving under the influence has long been another factor in reckless driving. The first state DUI laws were passed around the time the mass-produced Model T was introduced in 1908. States have different laws regarding seat belts, but reckless drivers and/or their passengers often forgo using them. With the wide embrace of smartphones, distracted driving through the manipulation of hand-held devices (e.g. texting or scrolling Twitter) has become the latest cause of recklessness on the road.

Source: Sean Pavone / iStock via Getty Images

10. Idaho
> Reckless driving violations:26 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 317%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1.3 per 10k people — 22nd highest
> Population Density: 21.6 people per sq. mile
> Population: 1,787,065

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9. New Hampshire
> Reckless driving violations:28 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 484%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 0.7 per 10k people — 8th lowest
> Population Density: 151.9 people per sq. mile
> Population: 1,359,711

Source: peeterv / iStock via Getty Images

8. South Carolina
> Reckless driving violations:34 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 141%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1.9 per 10k people — 4th highest
> Population Density: 171.2 people per sq. mile
> Population: 5,148,714

Source: Jason_Ray_Photography / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

7. South Dakota
> Reckless driving violations:34 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 309%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1.2 per 10k people — 24th lowest
> Population Density: 11.7 people per sq. mile
> Population: 884,659

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6. Washington
> Reckless driving violations:35 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 222%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 0.7 per 10k people — 6th lowest
> Population Density: 114.6 people per sq. mile
> Population: 7,614,893

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5. Wyoming
> Reckless driving violations:40 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 375%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 2.5 per 10k people — the highest
> Population Density: 6 people per sq. mile
> Population: 578,759

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4. Montana
> Reckless driving violations:44 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 407%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1.7 per 10k people — 6th highest
> Population Density: 7.3 people per sq. mile
> Population: 1,068,778

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3. Alaska
> Reckless driving violations:49 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 256%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 0.9 per 10k people — 16th lowest
> Population Density: 1.3 people per sq. mile
> Population: 731,545

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2. North Dakota
> Reckless driving violations:59 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 163%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1.3 per 10k people — 19th highest
> Population Density: 11 people per sq. mile
> Population: 762,062

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1. Virginia
> Reckless driving violations:66 per 10k drivers
> Increase in driving (Mar. – Sept. 2020): 180%
> Traffic fatalities in 2019: 1 per 10k people — 18th lowest
> Population Density: 216.1 people per sq. mile
> Population: 8,535,519

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