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This Is the Worst State to Drive In, Data Shows

A new survey takes the worst traffic, road conditions, and infrastructure into consideration.

If happiness is an open road, agony must be bumper-to-bumper gridlock during rush hour. Unfortunately, with nearly 230 million drivers across the U.S., it's also a daily part of most people's lives. The way we drive and experience the road is even so important to us that in some areas, it's considered a badge of honor to suffer through it as a resident. But beyond just endless traffic jams, which state is actually the worst to drive in?

To find out which place had the worst conditions, personal finance website WalletHub collected data from all 50 states on essential road elements, including the cost of owning and maintaining a car, safety, access to vehicles and maintenance, and—naturally—traffic and insurance. Each was then scored on a list of criteria, from rush-hour congestion and road quality to "traffic indiscipline" and repair shops per capita. The weighted totals from the categories were then tallied, with 100 possible points representing perfect driving conditions. Read on to see which state is the worst to drive in, according to a report from WalletHub.

RELATED: This Is the Deadliest Car in the U.S., According to Data.


Grand Teton National Park wyoming
Oomka / Shutterstock

Total score out of 100: 52.31

As the least populated state, it may not come as a surprise that Wyoming managed to receive decent marks for traffic and infrastructure. Unfortunately, it ranked 48th overall in both the safety and "access to vehicles & maintenance categories," making it the tenth worst state to drive in.


cityscape photo of St. Louis, Missouri at dusk
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Total score out of 100: 51.47

Data shows that Missouri does well regarding "access to vehicles & maintenance," ranking 15th in the nation in that category. However, its middling in both the "traffic & infrastructure" and "cost of ownership & maintenance" categories, and is second to last in the U.S. for safety.


city skyline of buildings in downtown Detroit, Michigan at twilight

Total score out of 100: 51.40

Despite being in the bottom ten, the home state of Motor City still manages a decent score in the "access to vehicles & maintenance" category, ranking 11th overall. But below-average scores in the safety and "traffic & infrastructure" categories and a high cost of ownership and maintenance in Michigan pull its score down.

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The skyline of Denver, Colorado

Total score out of 100: 50.85

Colorado might be in decent standing when you consider the "access to vehicles & maintenance" category, which earned it a ranking of 16th overall. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends: Besides low scores in all other categories, it also earns the unenviable status as the state with the highest car theft rate in the U.S.


city skyline and busy highway in Seattle, Washington at night

Total score out of 100: 49.34

Washington ranks in the top half of the nation regarding both the "access to vehicles & maintenance" and safety categories. But unfortunately, it's also the third most expensive state when it comes to the "cost of ownership & maintenance."


city skyline of the Washington Monument and downtown Baltimore, Maryland at dusk

Total score out of 100: 48.54

Decent showings in the safety and "access to vehicles & maintenance" categories don't do much to hurt Maryland's standings in the rankings. The real trouble is that the state ranks dead last in the dreaded "traffic & infrastructure" category, covering everything from rush-hour traffic and road quality to the number of icy days and the increase in highway travel over the past year.


bixby bridge, sunset, california
Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Total score out of 100: 48

Is there any state as synonymous with driving as California? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the state sees the least days out of the year with precipitation, ties with Florida and Texas for the most car washes per capita, and has the most auto repair shops per capita than anywhere else—which probably helps it achieve the top ranking in the "access to vehicles & maintenance" category. On the other hand, it's also the third worst for car theft rate, 42nd in "traffic & infrastructure," and—despite the best access to vehicles and their upkeep—ranks dead last in the "cost of ownership & maintenance" category.

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cityscape photo of Wilmington, Delaware

Total score out of 100: 48

In perhaps one of the more surprising findings of the report, Delaware is tied with California with a weighted score of 48. By comparison, however, it is ranked second-worst in the "access to vehicles & maintenance" category where California reigns supreme, suffering from a low supply of auto repair shops and car washes per capita and one of the highest rates of rush-hour congestion in the U.S.

Rhode Island

A view of downtown Providence, Rhode Island on a sunny day.

Total score out of 100: 47.41

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the U.S., but it's still managed to become a big headache for drivers there. Despite ranking seventh-best for safety, the Ocean State suffers in all other categories, ranking 46th in "access to vehicles & maintenance" and 47th in both "traffic & infrastructure" and "cost of ownership & maintenance."


Total score out of 100: 41.02

Despite its globally renowned natural beauty, the 50th state coincidentally ranked 50th overall in WalletHub's report as the worst to drive in. Data shows that Hawaii is 49th in auto maintenance costs, the highest average gas prices, the fewest car washes per capita, and—somewhat surprisingly—days with precipitation. It's also the state with the fewest auto repair shops per capita in the U.S.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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