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Utah drivers are among the best, claims study


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If you’ve lived in Idaho for more than a few months, chances are, you’ve heard people complaining about Utah drivers. If you’re one of five Idahoans not in the know, let’s just say they don’t have a great reputation in the Gem State.

But a study by a group of attorneys in Illinois suggests we’re judging them too harshly.

According to research by Friend, Levinson, & Turner LTD, these are the worst drivers in America:

  1. New Mexico
  2. Alabama (tie)
  3. Arkansas (tie)
  4. Wyoming
  5. Montana
  6. Delaware
  7. Lousiana
  8. South Carolina
  9. Alaska (tie)
  10. Missouri (tie)
  11. Tennessee (tie)

Note the absence of Utah. In fact, it ranked 40th on the list, which means Utah is in the elite top 10 of best drivers. And Idaho? We ranked 27th. That’s right — Idahoans are supposedly worse drivers than Utahans! (But at least we didn’t make the top 10 of worst drivers. What the heck, Wyoming and Montana?)

Here’s what the law firm considered in its rankings (based on 2020 data):

  • DUI arrests per 100,000
  • Accident fatalities per 100,000
  • How many drivers are uninsured
  • Number of Google searches related to terms like “how to get out of a ticket” and “car accident lawyer”

“There were a few things the worst drivers in America have in common: almost all have staggeringly high rates of accident fatalities and DUI arrests,” the researchers noted.

Here’s what they said about two of our neighboring states:

“With the highest rate of accident fatalities in the country (31 per 100,000), Wyoming landed in the No. 4 spot for worst drivers. To make matters worse, the state also has an extremely high rate of DUI-related arrests (683 per 100,000).

“Rounding out the top five worst drivers in the U.S. is Montana. While Montana drivers don’t have an extremely high rate of DUI arrests (419 per 100,000, No. 14 rank), they do carry with them the sixth-highest rate of fatalities, at 21 per 100,000.”

And the state with the best drivers? New York.

“In addition to having the second-lowest fatality rate in the country (6 per 100,000, No. 49), New Yorkers have extremely low rates of DUI-related arrests (156 (per 100,000), No. 42) and a majority of drivers are insured (84%),” according to the study.

Keep in mind that none of the criteria the researchers used included how likely drivers are to cut you off or drive like maniacs. (Being an aggressive driver doesn’t always mean you’ll get a ticket or get into a crash. Sorry — that’s the universe for you.) And the study doesn’t mean an individual Utah driver can’t be worse than an Idaho one — it just means that Utahans in general didn’t score as poorly here as their potato-loving neighbors from the north.

But our Utah friends should not be waving their beehive flags just yet. Their state hasn’t done so well in other studies, such as this one from 2016 that took speeding tickets into account. (Incidentally, Wyoming took the No. 1 spot for worst drivers in that study. Again, what the heck, Wyoming?) An opinion piece in the Deseret News that cited that report and other data — including the elevated confidence (hubris?) Utahans have in their driving skills — referred to “above-average, horrible Utah drivers.”

Here’s the full list of rankings in the Friend, Levinson, & Turner LTD study:

Ranking of drivers by state, worst to best,

Click here to view more details.