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Study Ranking States By Safe Drivers Has Flaws

Posted by William Bly | Nov 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

A new study aiming to settle, once and for all, where the nation's worst drivers are not only managed to rank Massachusetts drivers as some of the safest in the country, but also used metrics so over-simplified that the results shouldn't be taken seriously. This is especially true for how the study handled drunk driving.

New Study Ranks States by Driving Skill

A car insurance website,, took data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and used it to find which state had the best and worst drivers.

Using five criteria, the study gave each state a rank between 1 and 51 – the District of Columbia was also in the study – with 1 being the worst, and 51 being the best. Once all states had been ranked in each criteria, their scores were added together. The overall scores were then ranked, with the lowest being the state with the most dangerous drivers, and the highest being the state with the safest drivers.

The criteria that the study used were:

  1. Fatalities per 100 million miles traveled,
  2. Percentage of fatal crashes involving a traffic signal, seatbelt, or driver's license infraction,
  3. Percentage of fatal crashes that involved drunk driving,
  4. Percentage of fatal crashes that involved excessive speed, and
  5. The number of car accidents that resulted in a pedestrian and bicyclist fatality, per 100,000 people in the state.

Study's Drunk Driving Scores Misleading

The study, however, shouldn't be taken too seriously. The criteria that the study used are not only far from all-encompassing, but even misleading in some ways.

The way the study handled drunk driving is an excellent example.

The study only looked at the percentage of fatal crashes that involved alcohol. For a drunk driving crash to be fatal, there typically has to some speeding involved – low speed crashes are rarely fatal. However, how fast you're driving has a lot to do with the surrounding area. It's difficult to pick up enough speed to create a fatal accident in a downtown street like Congress St. in Portland. On the other hand, roads through rural areas have fewer traffic lights and road risks, so speeding is almost a given. However, rural roads have fewer other travelers on them, making suburban roads prime areas for fatal crashes involving alcohol.

That's why states that scored poorly in the study for drunk driving are predominantly suburban. Connecticut was 2nd in the country for drunk driving, and the whole state is suburban. In fact, nearly all of New England was in the bottom half for drunk driving scores. On the other hand, rural Midwestern states, like Oklahoma, Kentucky, Iowa, and Indiana, were all at the top of the score chart for drunk driving.

Maine OUI-Defense Attorney William T. Bly

In the end, the study found that Mainers were safe drivers, giving us a score of 40 and putting us just outside the top 10. However, the details of the study show that, especially when it comes to operating under the influence (OUI), the results shouldn't be taken too seriously. The criteria used just aren't precise enough to give results that have much meaning to them.

If you have been arrested and charged for OUI, you need an OUI-defense attorney like William T. Bly to represent you in court. OUI penalties are severe, so contact his law office online or at (207) 571-8146 to plan your defense right away.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.


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