Study Reveals the Best States for Teen Drivers. Sorry, South Dakota

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Statistics show that, as a whole, teen drivers are unsafe, and could easily saddle you with a huge repair bill.

So, what’s the best state to live in if you’re planning to hand your keys to someone aged 15 to 24? A new study by WalletHub maps it out, ranking each state based on three categories — safety conditions, driving laws and economic environment.

The categories contain a total of 16 metrics. When combined, New York emerges with the best score — 74.97 on a one-to-100 scale.

However, because the score is an average, a top-ranked state might not be great in one of the three categories. Delaware, that east coast playground loved by tax-averse residents and Joe Biden, ranks fourth on the list, but places first for safety and 44th for economy (meaning the cost of traffic offenses and repairs).

South Dakota put itself on the map by coming in dead last. The Mount Rushmore State ranked 47th for safety, 37th for cost, and 50th for driving laws, meaning it’s not a bad place for childless, reasonably well-off Libertarians.

WalletHub notes that motor vehicle accidents are still the leading cause of death for people aged 16 to 19, with the “young person” age group (15-24) soaking up almost a third of costs related to accidents. Their study also breaks the rankings down into individual factors, such as teen DUIs, number of fatalities, lowest cost of adding a teen driver to your insurance policy, etc.

Statistics like these could make parents think twice about handing over the keys to the Odyssey on a Friday night, especially in South Dakota.

[Source: WalletHub]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • B_C_R B_C_R on Jun 22, 2016

    South Dakota resident here. There are a few reasons that people start driving when they're 14, but the main reason is due to this being a primarily ag state. I had cousins and friends that grew up working on the family farm that started driving when they were 12, or tall enough to reach the pedals. Mind you, this was on rural gravel roads, but they were still in charge of a vehicle, and knew what they were doing. Aside from farming, this is a large state that still has a lot of small towns that are considerable distances from each other, meaning that a lot of younger people drive out of necessity. Driving here, and anywhere for that matter can be dangerous. Speed limits here are 80 mph, and this state is notorious for teens and other people not wearing their seat belts, so there are a lot of fatalities in accidents.

  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Jun 22, 2016

    Pennsylvania is #33, I blame the near constant road construction. I've been driving for a few years now and even I get tripped up by it.

  • Mchan1 Mchan1 on Jun 22, 2016

    How the heck is Mass #6? Do people know why Mass drivers are called MassHoles? There's plenty of reasons for that! The darn kids are as bad as their parents. Then combine that with elderly drivers and people coming in from outside America driving on heavily congested roads, lousy direction signs, if any and you wonder why Mass drivers are NOT looked upon kindly.

  • LS1Fan LS1Fan on Jun 23, 2016

    The problem with South Dakota isn't the drivers,but the roads. Lots of straight , long, rural highways through boring farmland with no dividers and uncontrolled intersections or stop signs. Run a stop sign in downtown Baltimore and you might have a fender bender. Worst thing is you break your bumper cover and your insurance bill. By comparison running a stop sign in most of South Dakota probably means a 120+ MPH combined speed wreck. Either two cars meet at highway speed, or one stationary or slow car meets a fast one. Not exactly a recipe for high survivability accidents. Wrecks may not happen often, but when they do what's left of man and machine fits into a ziplock bag. I was stationed in Rapid City ten years back . Texting wasn't a big deal (.25 per message meant you called someone to communicate) , but driving in really rural areas raised my hackles. One deer collusion or screwup at an uncontrolled intersection likely meant serious injury or death tens if not hundreds of miles from the nearest trauma center.