It may not come as a surprise to many current residents of our state, but a recent study ranked North Carolina drivers among the worst in the nation.
Specifically, our drivers ranked 12th out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) in a study by CarInsuranceComparison.com, placing it in the top quarter of most dangerous states to drive in, just shy of the top 10.
Montana and South Carolina were tied in the #1 spot for most dangerous drivers, followed by Texas, North Dakota, and Delaware. Minnesota was ranked the safest in the nation in the #51 spot.
Method for Ranking States
What makes North Carolina roads more dangerous than 75 percent of the country? First we’ll have to look at the methodology researchers used to determine each state’s ranking.
The data was collected from the most recent statistics available from the National Highway and Traffic Association (NHTSA). Car Insurance Comparison then ranked each state based on the following categories:
- Fatalities Rate per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled
- Failure to Obey (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that involved Traffic Signals, Not Wearing Seat Belts, and Driving with an Invalid Driver License)
- Drunk Driving (Percentage of Fatal Crashes that Involved Alcohol)
- Speeding (Percentage of Driving Fatalities that were Speed-Related)
- Careless Driving (Pedestrian & Bicyclist Fatalities per 100,000 Population)
Then researchers translated the information into the total score, with the worst states receiving the lowest scores, and the best receiving the highest.
North Carolina’s total score was 99. For comparison, South Carolina and Montana received scores of 60, and Minnesota received a score of 208.
N.C. drivers scored lowest in the Careless Driving category, coming in 6th out of all states. The highest scores were in Drunk Driving and Failure to Obey at 24th, meaning intoxicated drivers and drivers who ignore traffic signals and signage are less of a problem than reckless drivers in North Carolina.
Careless driving was based on the ratio of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by car, per 100,000 people. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, 172 pedestrians were killed in car accidents in 2013. 19 cyclists were killed in the same year by North Carolina drivers.
According to NCDOT’s statistics, the top reasons for fatalities on the road in North Carolina were crossing center lines/wrong way driving, speeding, reckless or aggressive driving, and alcohol use.
Conclusions from the Study
The study notes that of the top 15 states with the worst drivers, 11 earned that ranking through careless driving statistics. This is particularly disturbing when you keep in mind that rankings in this category are based on pedestrians and bicyclists killed by drivers.
According to Car Insurance Comparison’s analysis, the high number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths is likely due to the increase in distracted driving—spurred by a growing trend of texting behind the wheel.
According to the most recent data on pedestrian deaths from the NHSTA, there were 4,735 pedestrians killed and an estimated 66,000 injured in auto accidents across the US. “On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes,” the NHTSA reports reads.
The study’s conclusions also noted that drivers should focus on the factors that they could control. “Taking responsibility for yourself in these areas by obeying traffic signals, wearing your seat belt, driving with a valid license, designating a driver who hasn’t been drinking, and operating at safe travel speeds can really make a difference.”
Cellphone Use and Driving Continues To Be a Problem
North Carolina’s #12 ranking is actually a bit of an improvement from the prior version of the Car Insurance Comparison ranking—in 2013, North Carolinian drivers were the 7th worst in the nation.
Careless driving played a prominent role in North Carolina’s ranking in 2013 as well. One highway patrol officer was interviewed by the Jacksonville Daily News following the 2013 results. When asked what he thought North Carolina’s worst driving habit was, he named cellphone use.
“If you’re thumbing on your phone or on your GPS and you look down for a second or two, that can cause you to run into the car in front of you,” Trooper J.D. Kirk of the N.C. Highway Patrol said. “Texting and driving is an ongoing problem we’re still fighting.” His message to North Carolina drivers: “Put down the phone and drive.”
If you or someone you care about has been wrongfully injured by a careless or reckless driver, we would like to hear from you. An auto accident injury suit can help hold negligent drivers responsible, and you may be entitled to compensation for any costs incurred as a result of your injury.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.