Which States Have the Most (and Least) Fatal Car Accidents?

See how your state stacks up when it comes to road safety.

Team LemonadeTeam Lemonade

Two million people are injured in auto collisions in the United States each year, according to the CDC.

Auto collisions can vary—some cause only minor damage, while others are fatal. While you may protect your automobile with car insurance, sometimes crashes are unavoidable. That’s why it is vital you take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe. 

Let’s take a closer look at car accidents by state, as well as some easy ways to protect yourself on the road.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Car accidents by state

No matter where you live, driving can be dangerous. There were over 33,000 fatal car crashes in 2019 in the United States. 

The total number of car accidents by state is closely related to population. But other factors that can affect these stats include weather, topography, common types of vehicles, travel speed, and the number of passengers.

The following table breaks down the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents and deaths across all 50 states (and Washington, D.C.), with data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

StatePopulationFatal CrashesDeaths
Alabama4,903,185856930
Alaska731,5456267
Arizona7,278,717910981
Arkansas3,017,804467505
California39,512,2233,3163,606
Colorado5,758,736544596
Connecticut3,565,287233249
Delaware973,764122132
District of Columbia705,7492223
Florida21,477,7372,9503,183
Georgia10,617,4231,3771,491
Hawaii1,415,872102108
Idaho1,787,065201224
Illinois12,671,8219381,009
Indiana6,732,219751809
Iowa3,155,070313336
Kansas2,913,314362411
Kentucky4,467,673667732
Louisiana4,648,794681727
Maine1,344,212143157
Maryland6,045,680484521
Massachusetts6,892,503321334
Michigan9,986,857902985
Minnesota5,639,632333364
Mississippi2,976,149581643
Missouri6,137,428818880
Montana1,068,778166184
Nebraska1,934,408212248
Nevada3,080,156285304
New Hampshire1,359,71190101
New Jersey8,882,190525559
New Mexico2,096,829368424
New York19,453,561876931
North Carolina10,488,0841,2841,373
North Dakota762,06291100
Ohio11,689,1001,0391,153
Oklahoma3,956,971584640
Oregon4,217,737451489
Pennsylvania12,801,9899901,059
Rhode Island1,059,3615357
South Carolina5,148,7149221,001
South Dakota884,65988102
Tennessee6,829,1741,0401,135
Texas28,995,8813,2943,615
Utah3,205,958225248
Vermont623,9894447
Virginia8,525,519774831
Washington7,614,893494519
West Virginia1,792,147247260
Wisconsin5,822,434526566
Wyoming578,759120147

5 states with the most fatal car accidents

Which state has the most car accidents compared to the number of licensed drivers?

We divided the total number of fatal crashes in each state in 2019 by the number of licensed drivers to uncover the states with the highest amount of fatal accidents. We also looked at the rate of fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers to better gauge the severity.  

The number of licensed drivers per state was sourced from the Federal Highway Administration.

Here are the top five states with the most fatal car accidents per the number of licensed drivers.

1. Mississippi

According to our research, Mississippi ranks as the state with the most fatal car accidents per number of licensed drivers. 

Mississippi had 2,017,111 licensed drivers and 581 fatal crashes in 2019. One in two people killed in car accidents in Mississippi were not wearing their seat belts; Mississippi has the lowest seat belt usage rates in the nation (77.9%, compared to the nationwide rate of 90.1%)

Aside from lax seat-belt habits, poor driving conditions and high rates of drunk driving make Mississippi a deadly state for drivers. This state is one of the most poorly lit in the nation. For the last five years, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated at least a quarter of all state highways in Mississippi ‘poor’ or ‘fair.’ 

Drunk driving is also a major problem. According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), drunk driving fatalities account for 18% of all traffic fatalities in the state.

  • Number of licensed drivers: 2,017,111
  • Number of fatal crashes: 581
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 2.88 
  • Number of deaths: 643
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 21.6
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.56

2. Wyoming

Even though Wyoming is the least populated state, it has the second-highest rate of fatal car accidents per number of licensed drivers. Wyoming had 427,233 licensed drivers and 120 fatal crashes in 2019. 

According to the Department of Transportation, in 2020, there were over 13,000 car accidents in Wyoming, with 20,000 vehicles involved. Pickup trucks had the highest number of crashes that solely resulted in property damage, at over 4,000 in total. 

Like Mississipi, driving while intoxicated is more common in this state than usual. While the national average for people who report driving after drinking too much is 1.9%, in Wyoming it’s 2.2%. Wind conditions in Wyoming are also known to make driving more difficult, as gusts can reach between 40 and 70 miles an hour in the southeast.

  • Number of licensed drivers: 427,233
  • Number of fatal crashes: 120
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 2.81
  • Number of deaths: 147
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 25.4 
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.44 

3. New Mexico

There were over 48,000 car accidents reported on public roadways in New Mexico in 2019.

Recent studies blame New Mexico’s poor road conditions as a factor for why the state has such high crash rates. A recent report found that 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in New Mexico are in poor condition, and another 24 percent are in mediocre condition. 

  • Number of licensed drivers: 1,473,219
  • Number of fatal crashes: 368
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 2.50
  • Number of deaths: 424
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 20.2
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.53

4. South Carolina

South Carolina has almost double the number of licensed drivers as Mississippi. However, South Carolina is ranked the fourth state with the most fatal car accidents by state per the number of licensed drivers. 

Approximately one in 18 South Carolina licensed drivers was involved in a traffic accident in 2019. One person was injured every nine minutes in a South Carolina car collision in 2019. (SCDPS)

Driving too fast and poor road conditions play a significant factor in South Carolina’s high crash rates. Driving too fast was the cause of almost 40,000 car collisions in 2019, (SCDPS) and in 2019, a Consumer Affairs report found that South Carolina had the worst state roads in the United States.

  • Number of licensed drivers: 3,905,911
  • Number of fatal crashes: 922
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 2.36
  • Number of deaths: 1,001
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 19.4 
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.73

5. Kentucky

Kentucky has miles of open highways and spectacular mountains. Unfortunately, the state also has unpredictable weather conditions, and a fair rate of car accidents. When looking at the number of fatal car accidents per licensed driver, Kentucky lands the fifth spot. 

There was a 5.5% increase in Kentucky fatal car crashes in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, one in every 24 licensed drivers in Kentucky were involved in a car crash, and 60% of all collisions in Kentucky involved two or more vehicles. (KTC)

  • Number of licensed drivers: 2,905,632
  • Number of fatal crashes: 667
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 2.30
  • Number of deaths: 732
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 16.4 
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 1.48

5 states with the least fatal car accidents

If you’re a driver in the following places, you can rest slightly easier knowing that your area’s rate of traffic fatalities is lower than usual.

1. Washington, D.C.

Yes, Washington, D.C. isn’t an actual state. But fun fact: It has a higher population than Vermont and Wyoming combined.

However, the nation’s capital had the least amount of car accidents per number of licensed drivers among all the states and districts. 

DC had the lowest number of drivers killed with over-the-limit blood alcohol levels, and the lowest death rate (deaths per 100,000 people) among the states, at 3.3%. With only 22 fatal car accidents in 2019, Washington, D.C. truly is a safe place to drive. 

  • Number of licensed drivers: 520,865
  • Number of fatal crashes: 22
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 0.42
  • Number of deaths: 23
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.3 
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 0.61

2. Massachusetts

Not only does Massachusetts experience the brutal winds of winter, but it also feels the wrath of hurricane season. Despite having to cope with these weather conditions, Massachusetts drivers are pretty safe.

With almost 5 million licensed drivers, it’s shocking to find out there were only 321 accidents in 2019. As of April 2022, only 94 people have lost their lives in reported car accident fatalities this year and Massachusetts has the second lowest crash death rate tied with New York. (MassDOT)

  • Number of licensed drivers: 4,940,373
  • Number of fatal crashes: 321
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 0.65
  • Number of deaths: 334
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 4.8
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 0.51

3. New York

Despite having over 12 million licensed drivers, New York is a fairly safe place to drive.

Of course, things can get a little sticky when driving in an incredible dense place, like New York City. Traveling in the outer boroughs? Be cautious—in 2020, Brooklyn and Queens accounted for 61.4% of all crash-related injuries in New York City. And in NYC, distracted driving accounted for almost 30% of collisions that same year.

  • Number of licensed drivers: 12,194,360
  • Number of fatal crashes: 876
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 0.72
  • Number of deaths: 931
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 4.8
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 0.75

4. Rhode Island

Ah, lil’ Rhode Island. Did you know you can drive through the entire state in just an hour?

It’s no wonder the smallest state falls under the category of least car accidents by state. With a population of just over 1 million, Rhode Island had only 57 fatalities from car accidents in 2019.

However, that same year there were 308 serious injuries resulting from car collisions. (FHWA)

  • Number of licensed drivers: 731,715
  • Number of fatal crashes: 53
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 0.72
  • Number of deaths: 57
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 5.4
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 0.75

5. Minnesota

Minnesota might be the 12th largest state, yet it had significantly fewer car accidents in 2019 than most other states. 

There was a 4% decrease in Minnesota traffic deaths in 2019 compared to 2018 and an 11% decrease in the past 10 years. However, drunk driving contributed to 89 Minnesota deaths in 2019 and speeding contributed to 75 deaths. (MNDPS)

  • Number of licensed drivers: 4,090,264
  • Number of fatal crashes: 333
  • Fatal crashes per 10,000 licensed drivers: 0.81
  • Number of deaths: 364
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 6.5 
  • Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled: 0.60

Deadliest types of cars

While accidents happen, certain car models are deadlier than others due to a lack of safety features, design, and other factors.

Here are the deadliest car models, according to various sources.

  • The Chevrolet Corvette has the highest fatal accident rates among sports cars. (I See Cars)
  • Small cars and mini cars were responsible for 15 of the 20 vehicles with the highest death rates in 2017. (IIHS)
  • 2014–2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2WDs have the highest death rate among midsize SUVs. (IIHS)
  • Subcompact cars, including the Mitsubishi Mirage, have the highest fatal accident rate, with a rate of 4.5 cars per billion vehicle miles, which is almost double the average. (I See Cars)
  • In 2019, 38% of rollover passenger deaths occurred in pickup trucks, and 39% of rollover fatalities happened in SUVs. (IIHS)

How to protect yourself after a car accident

One of the most important ways to protect yourself after an accident is by having car insurance, which can cover both physical damage to your vehicle as well as medical or legal bills for yourself and others.

Check out Lemonade’s different types of car insurance to help you cover the cost in the event of a crash. It’s better to be prepared now than later.

infographic on what to do after a car accident

Methodology

To discover the states with the most car accidents, Lemonade collected and analyzed data provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). We then ranked the states by the most and least fatal accidents by the number of licensed drivers. The number of licensed drivers per state was sourced from the Federal Highway Administration.

We also relied on crash reports and other peer-reviewed car accident studies.

Share

Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.