A recent survey by the personal finance site SmartAsset comparing drivers by state has ranked Tennessee drivers as the second worst in the country. The ranking was based on four factors: the percentage of drivers with insurance, the number of DUIs per thousand drivers, the average number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven, and the frequency with which state residents Google search terms like “traffic ticket” or “speeding ticket.”
According to the survey, six out of the top 10 worst states for driving were Southern states, including Florida (8th), Alabama (7th), Texas (tied for 5th), Missouri (tied for 3rd), Tennessee (2nd) and Mississippi (1st). Of the bottom 10 (best states for driving), six were from New England: Rhode Island (42nd), New Hampshire (43rd), Maine (44th), Connecticut (tied for 47th), Vermont (49th) and Massachusetts (50th).
Tennessee was chosen second-to-worst for several reasons. The state ranked 19th in the number of DUIs per thousand drivers — better than last year, when it ranked 15th. In 2017, there were approximately 2.2 DUI arrests per thousand drivers in the state.
The Volunteer State ranked 16th in terms of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled and has below-average rates of insurance coverage. Indeed, Tennessee ranked among the worst 20 for each metric. It only missed the top spot because it had no Top 10 scores.
The survey reaffirmed some good news, which is that fatality rates are dropping in most states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven fell by 32 percent between 1994 and 2016.