10 of the Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers

As a teenager, getting your driver’s license is one of the most triumphant occasions as motoring freedom is finally at hand. You can finally drive around without your parents in tow and have a nice taste of adulthood everywhere you go. However, that joyous occasion can easily be met with tragedy as the CDC reported that almost 2,400 teens, ages 16-19, were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 alone.

WalletHub recently released a report on the best and worst states for teen drivers based on a few different metrics. Where does your state rank among all 50 of them?

The method used to rank all 50 states

In order to get an accurate ranking for all 50 states, WalletHub analyzed each state using three main factors: safety, economic environment, and driving laws. They then evaluated each state using 23 key metrics such as teen driver fatalities per 100,000 teens, maximum cost of a speeding ticket, and leniency of DUI violations. There are many more factors for each category and all three of them were weighted to equal a total of 100.

With the scores tallied up, you could be surprised at the results.

The 10 best overall states for teen drivers

Source: WalletHub

The top 10 states in the nation for teen drivers are quite a mixed bag. However, keep in mind that just because a state is listed at the top of this list, it doesn’t mean that’s completely safe for teen drivers as accidents can happen at any time. However, the data is quite interesting:

  1. New York
  2. Oregon
  3. Connecticut
  4. Alaska
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Michigan
  7. Minnesota
  8. Texas
  9. Maryland
  10. New Jersey

Is this list exactly how you thought it would be? Probably not. But the list of the trailing 10 is just as interesting.

The 10 worst states for teen drivers

Traffic travels on Interstate 80 in El Cerrito, California
Traffic travels on Interstate 80 in El Cerrito, California. | Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

When it comes to the 10 worst states for teen drivers, the ratings skewed a little more toward the middle of the country. Here are WalletHub rankings:

  1. South Carolina
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Arkansas
  4. Nebraska
  5. Mississippi
  6. Missouri
  7. Montana
  8. South Dakota
  9. Idaho
  10. Wyoming

WalletHub pointed out that those last five states have the most teen fatalities per teen population. They also have the highest number of teen DUIs, so we can see why they ranked lower on the list. According to the study’s scale, driving safety has the highest weight in the rankings so those factors had a major effect on the ranking for those particular states.

What can parents do to keep their teens safe?

Whether your state ranked high or low on this list, it’s important to stress the virtues of safe driving to your newly licensed teen. According to Daniel McGehee, professor and director of the University of Iowa National Advanced Driving Simulator, “The most important thing that parents of teens can do is drive, drive, and drive with their teens. And in all conditions, even the most challenging ones.”

He’s definitely not wrong as having experience in the harshest of conditions can help anyone get better at driving and increase overall awareness, especially for teens. A teenager obtaining their driver’s license may be a joyous occasion, but having the right experience and education can prevent that happy occasion from turning into a tragedy.

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