PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Traffic, road conditions and the cost of vehicle maintenance are all things that can make drivers grip the steering wheel a bit tighter. These conditions vary across states for a variety of reasons including population, weather and government investments.
Personal finance website WalletHub took a look at all 50 states to determine which are the best – and the worst – to drive in. Washington state landed second from last on the list.
To rank the states, WalletHub compared them across four key dimensions: cost of ownership and maintenance; traffic and infrastructure; safety; and access to vehicles and maintenance.
Researchers then broke those dimensions down into 31 relevant metrics, including things like average gas prices, the share of rush-hour traffic congestion, number of days with precipitation, road quality, traffic fatality rate, car theft rate and auto-repair shops per capita.
Hawaii, one of the most desirable vacation destinations, came in dead last thanks to the high cost of car ownership, state of the infrastructure and limited access to vehicles and maintenance, the study found.
While Hawaii may have unique challenges when it comes to traffic and infrastructure, the country as a whole desperately needs an upgrade, according to The American Society of Civil Engineers. The ASCE gave America’s roads a D grade on the society’s annual report card, saying underfunding has led to 40% of the country’s roadways falling into “poor or mediocre” conditions.
Washington took 49th place behind Hawaii. The state ranked 47th among all states for its cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance and 39th among states for traffic and infrastructure.
Rounding out the worst 10, were, in order, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan and California.
According to WalletHub, these are the 10 best states to drive in:
WalletHub asked experts how states can reduce the number of traffic fatalities. Dr. Arman Sargolzaei, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Southern Florida said the vast majority of U.S. traffic accidents are entirely or partially due to human error.
“A shift in responsibilities from the human driver to self-driving cars can potentially reduce accidents,” he said.
Dr. Shannon Roberts, an assistant professor in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst also said the biggest risk for drivers continues to be not wearing a seat belt or being under the influence while driving.
“Whatever states can do to encourage seat belt usage and discourage driving after drinking/drug usage would help prevent traffic fatalities,” she said.