Data Journalist answers "Which State has the Worst Drivers?"

Mona Chalabi, over at fivethirtyeight, tried to answer the oldest question known to man: Which state has the worst drivers?

The answer isn't Washington. Washington has average drivers. It may have feel like we have horrible drivers when we actually just have bad infrastructure.

There’s no obvious answer to the question. She tries to bestow the mantle of “worst drivers” on Texas, but she qualifies that by saying no one state is the objective worst because there are so many factors to consider. These are the three she weighs:

1. Number of vehicular collisions in a state, trying to separate driver ability from poor infrastructure.

Chalabi sifts through 2012 car accident data to find the “bad” drivers. She defines "bad" drivers as the drivers who cause accidents when speeding, distracted, or drunk. She doesn’t find any regional trends among speeding drivers (e.g. Southern drivers seem to speed just as often as drivers from other parts of the country). Nor does she find regional trends with drunk drivers (North Dakota and Montana have a high percentage of accidents caused by drunk-driving, maybe because there are a lot of temporary workers). And as far as distracted drivers go, only fatal accidents try to qualify the cause of the accidents and using that restricted data set, Chalabi determines only 453 lethal accidents were determined by distracted drivers (in the country).

2. Average cost of car insurance.

Insurance Companies are companies, and they dry to maximize their profit as much as possible. Chalabi has good instincts using what they charge for premiums as a signal for poor driving skills. New Jersey, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia are neck and neck for the highest premium.

3. Average insurance pay out for car accidents.

Chalabi couldn’t find any specific figures for this number, so she had to formulate an average based on the numbers she found based on the other factors. Louisiana, Maryland, and Oklahoma all cost Insurance companies the most (Chalabi guesses this is because drivers in these areas might not be insured). 

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.
1 Comments
Data journalism is always very interesting.
by Julia November 4, 2014 at 12:51 PM
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