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I have lived in “Motor City” for less than a month, and I am already impressed with how safe Michigan drivers are. In all parts of the greater Detroit Metro Area, the drivers of cars around me have proven competent. But you don’t have to trust my intuition alone: A recent study ranking the states with the best drivers put Michigan number one for several reasons. Michigan is also home to five of the 10 cities with the best drivers.

Detroit, Michigan: the Motor City

The skyline of Detroit, Michigan, the Ambassador bridge over the river visible in the foreground.
Detroit, Michigan | Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Detroit Three (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler) have historically been based in the greater Detroit Metro Area. As of 2018, Michigan exported $58 billion worth of goods worldwide. 19% of all automotive parts manufactured in the U.S.A. come from Michigan. And many of the cars those parts go in to are assembled in Michigan.

Why is Detroit the capital of the North American auto industry? The Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway have historically been one of the greatest shipping networks in North America. The Detroit River is one of just four major straits connecting the two.

As of 2023, 4.3 million people call the Detroit Metro Area home. That makes it the 14th largest city in the United States. Though Detroit is beginning to dabble in some light rail systems and has always had buses, one defining aspect of the largest city in Michigan is how many drivers it has choosing to commute in their own cars. It is truly the Motor City.

Michigan: the best drivers in the U.S.A.

Police officer directing drivers in downtown Detroit, Michigan.
Detroit police officer | Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg News via Getty Images

When the website set about ranking the states with the best drivers, it looked at several metrics. A major factor is the number of drivers with clean driving records. It also examined the rate of crashes. Finally, it broke down the best drivers by metropolitan area. Detroit came out on top in all three metrics.

Michigan is leading the U.S.A. in the percentage of drivers with a clean driving record. All told, 88.16% of Michigan drivers have a clean record. Both Nevada and Connecticut are close behind, with more than 87%. According to Insurify, a clean record requires seven years without any violations such as crashes, DUIs, or speeding tickets.

Also telling: the rate of crashes in Michigan is 52% lower than the U.S. average. That sounds like good odds to me.

When Insurify ranked all the cities with above-average driving records, five Michigan cities landed in the top 10:

2. Dearborn, Michigan.

4. Sterling Heights, Michigan.

6. Flint, Michigan.

9. Southfield, Michigan.

10. Westland, Michigan.

Dearborn, Sterling Heights, Southfield, and Westland are all in the Detroit Metro Area.

What are Detroit, Michigan drivers like?

Capable, fast, and safe. There may be good reasons for each of these. The drivers in many cities have earned a reputation: New York is aggressive, Californians slow way down in bad weather, etc. The stereotype in Detroit, Michigan is that drivers are good at driving.

Traffic moves through downtown Detroit, Michigan, home of the best drivers in the country.
Downtown Detroit | J.D. Pooley via Getty Images

Firstly, the Detroit road system requires drivers to be competent. There’s a joke that a “Detroit left” is taking a right then the first u-turn. This is true because the Detroit Metro Area is covered by a grid of fast, divided surface streets. These streets also are dotted with stoplights. So, while traffic rushes along at nearly interstate highway speeds, you must always be prepared to stomp the brakes. But it all works; I have yet to spot a pileup.

The Detroit Metro Area is vast. I have already met folks with 1.5-hour commutes. So, it makes sense that folks drive fast. Insurify confirms that the most common offense in the state is speeding.

Also, some of the quickest straight-line cars in the world hail from Detroit. So, that adds to the temptation to speed.

Finally, Detroit drivers are careful. There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, Michigan is what’s called a “no-fault” state from an insurance perspective. If you are in a car crash, your insurance must pay to fix your car. If the company wants to sue the other person’s insurance company later, it can. But when it comes to your insurance claim, it doesn’t matter who caused the accident. So, folks may be more motivated to avoid accidents.

Second of all, Michigan insurance premiums are high. This may be because of higher rates of car theft than average. But Insurify speculates that Michigan drivers are so safe because an accident might lead to even higher premiums.

Next, find out if your state allows lane splitting on a motorcycle, or learn the ins and outs of Michigans “no-fault” insurance policy in the video below: