In perhaps the least shocking news of all time, Rhode Island has once again been ranked one of the worst states to drive in the United States. This year we clock in at 6th worst, which is an improvement from last year where we were 2nd worst.
Everyone hates being stuck in traffic. It makes you late, and causes many people’s tempers to flare up. But it’s also quite bad for your wallet – in fact, congestion cost U.S. drivers $88 billion in 2019, as well as an average of 99 hours of their time. The U.S. also has five out of the world’s 25 worst cities for traffic, and 19 of the worst 25 in North America. Due to COVID-19, though, 2020’s traffic congestion numbers are likely to be lower overall. As of October 2020, cumulative travel on roads in 2020 was over 380 billion vehicle miles fewer than the same period in 2019, a reduction of 13.9%.
Congestion isn’t the only concern on the road, though. People want to know that they will be driving on safe, well-maintained roads before heading out. The U.S. has a fairly good track record in these regards, but certainly doesn’t top the list. For example, the World Economics Forum only places the U.S. at rank 17 of 141 when it comes to road quality.
Road conditions naturally aren’t consistent across the entire country. To identify the states with the most positive driving experiences, WalletHub compared all 50 states across 31 key indicators of a positive commute. Their data set ranges from average gas prices to rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality.
To help drivers identify the states that provide the best commuting conditions, WalletHub compared the 50 states across four key dimensions: 1) Cost of Ownership & Maintenance, 2) Traffic & Infrastructure, 3) Safety and 4) Access to Vehicles & Maintenance.
WalletHub evaluated those dimensions using 31 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best for drivers.
Finally, WalletHub determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the following scores to rank-order our sample.
For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across states.
Total Extra Vehicle Operating Costs per Driver: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Traffic & Infrastructure – Total Points: 30
Share of Rush-Hour Traffic Congestion: Double Weight (~6.00 Points)
Note: This metric refers to the share of urban interstates experiencing congestion during peak hours.
Increase in Vehicle Travel on Highways (2017 vs. 2000): Half Weight (~1.50 Points)
Number of Days with Precipitation: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Number of Icy Days: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the mean number of days with a minimum temperature of 32 degrees F or lower.
Number of Strong Wind & Hail Storms Reports: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Average Commute Time by Car (in Minutes): Double Weight (~6.00 Points)
Road Quality: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Bridge Quality: Half Weight (~1.50 Points)
Roadway Miles per 1,000 Persons: Full Weight (~3.00 Points)
Safety – Total Points: 30
Traffic Indiscipline: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Note: This is a composite metric that measures incidents due to poor behavior: phone use, speeding, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking, and poor turning.
Share of Adults Who Always or Nearly Always Wear a Seatbelt: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Traffic Fatality Rate: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Change in Traffic Fatality Rate (2017 vs. 2016): Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Share of Uninsured Drivers: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Likelihood of Collision with Deer: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Animal Loss Claims per Total Number of Drivers: Full Weight (~2.73 Points)
Access to Vehicles & Maintenance – Total Points: 10
Car Dealerships per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Auto-Repair Shops per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Car Washes per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Gas Stations per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Alternative Fuel Stations per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
Parking Lots and Garages per Capita*: Full Weight (~1.67 Points)
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