La. drivers fourth-worst in U.S.; blue states drive better

by Walter Pierce

Is having voted for John McCain in 2008 putting you at greater risk?

Using fatal crash data released last week by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and figuring in each state's total number of drivers as well as the average miles driven, The Daily Beast website has concluded that Louisiana drivers are the fourth-worst in the nation behind motorists in Kentucky (No. 3), Montana (No. 2) and North Dakota (No. 1). The states with the best drivers were Rhode Island (No. 1), Virginia (No. 2) and Connecticut (No. 3). The ranking also finds that Democrats drive their sub-compacts better than Republicans handle their SUVs.

Of the more than 30,000 fatal crashes in the U.S. last year, more than 5,000 were attributed to distracted driving related to such factors as cell phone use, according to the NHTSA. The Daily Beast's number crunch also found, not surprisingly, that 18- to 20-year-olds are the biggest menace on America's roadways.

The website used the following criteria in establishing its ranking (Louisiana's numbers follow in parentheses): fatal crashes (726), number of driver's licenses (2,998,162), most dangerous age (18), driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (10 out of 50), failure to obey traffic signs/signals (33 out of 50) and careless driving (4 out of 50).

Interestingly, the ranking also find that drivers in so-called blue states drive better than their counterparts in red states, based on the Electoral College map for the 2008 presidential election: Nine of the 10 worst-performing states voted for John McCain while nine of the 10 best-performing states voted for Barack Obama. As The Daily Beast puts it: "While this ranking won't single-handedly end the stereotypes about California drivers' or New York drivers,' it should help: Louisiana driver' or Kentucky driver' would be a more apt critique."

To see the full ranking of the nation's worst- and best-driving states, click here.