Distracted driving fatality rates increased 12% during the first year of the pandemic.  -  Photo:  Unsplash.com/Melissa Mjoen

Distracted driving fatality rates increased 12% during the first year of the pandemic.

Photo: Unsplash.com/Melissa Mjoen

New Mexico remained the worst state in the nation for distracted driving, topping the annual list compiled by MoneyGeek for two consecutive years. What’s more, the state had the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities — 5.36 per billion miles — for the third year in a row.

MoneyGeek analyzed which states have the highest rates of distracted driving fatalities to find the places in the U.S. where distracted driving takes the biggest toll. Noteworthy, distracted driving fatality rates increased 12% during the first year of the pandemic — despite lockdowns. In 2020, even though Americans drove 344,389 fewer miles than in 2019, distracted driving fatalities in the U.S. remained constant.

Louisiana rose from the fifth worst to the second worst spot for distracted driving on the latest report, with a distracted driving fatality rate of 2.63 per billion miles and a total of 262 lost lives due to the risky behavior between 2019 and 2020.

Others that ranked among the top five states for distracted driving include Kansas, coming in third, with a 2.45 distracted driving fatality rate and a total of 146 distracted driving deaths from 2019 to 2020. Kentucky ranks in fourth place (2.03 fatality rate), followed by Hawaii (1.97) on the MoneyGeek list.

Other key findings from the report include the fact that Texas and California, the largest states, are on opposite ends of the list. Texas has one of the highest distracted driving fatality rates relative to miles driven (1.2 per billion miles driven), whereas California has one of the lowest (0.35 per billion).

Moreover, North Carolina and Louisiana had the most significant increases in distracted driving fatalities from 2019 to 2020, despite fewer total miles driven due to the pandemic.

The three places with the least distracted driving fatalities include Rhode Island, Mississippi, and District of Columbia — each with a distracted driving fatality rate of 0.29 or less per billion miles.  

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