Tennessee is one of the most dangerous states for driving, according to a new analysis from Assurance. The Volunteer State received a driving speed score of 6.8 out of 10 and a driving risk score of 6.6 out of 10, with residents reportedly driving over 70 mph 11% of the time. The state also recorded approximately 5,304 fatal car crashes from 2017 to 2021.
What the Research Found
Assurance researchers explored the link between speed and safety, assessing states for how much fast driving impacted on risk.
To do so, each state received a speed score derived from how fast state residents drive over the speed limit and the average number of times they’ve been pulled over. States also got a risk score, which was calculated based on the number of fatal car accidents in the state and how much time their residents spend driving over 70 mph.
The findings are somewhat surprising and do not always point to a clear link between fast speed and higher fatalities, as is the case in Tennessee.
For example, New Hampshire tops the list with the highest driving speed score in the nation, coming in at 8.2 out of 10, yet it appears to still be a relatively safe place to drive. The residents here drive an average of 7.5 mph over the speed limit and have been pulled over an average of 2.5 times. However, New Hampshire’s driving risk score is low — 2.6 out of 10, and a total of 526 fatal car crashes between 2017 and 2021.
Conversely, New Mexico boasts the sixth slowest speed score in the country at 2.4, but the state’s driving risk score is the second highest in the nation at 9.0. From 2017 to 2021, there were 1,853 fatal vehicle crashes, or roughly 1 per 1,000 vehicle registrations in the state.
While Mississippi has an average speed score of 5.5, the state claims the highest driving risk score of 9.4 out of 10. Between 2017 and 2021, Mississippi experienced 3,167 fatal crashes. That’s about 1.2 per 1,000 vehicle registrations in the state, which is significantly higher compared to the national average of 0.7 — an alarming 71% increase.
Washington emerged as a state with slower, safer drivers. It received a driving speed score of 0.7 out of 10 — the second lowest in the study — and a driving risk score of 1.8 out of 10, the third lowest. Washington had 2,679 fatal car crashes reported between 2017 and 2021.
Speed and Safety Trends
The Assurance study also unveiled regional trends across the U.S. For example, Southern states, in general, proved more dangerous for driving. All Northeastern states received a score below 5 in terms of driving risk. Conversely, Western states seem to be home to more cautious drivers — all scoring less than 5 in driving speed, with Colorado being the only exception.
Finally, Midwestern states showed a more balanced spread across both speed and risk metrics compared to other regions.
As it concerns high driving speed scores, in addition to the number-one ranked New Hampshire, the states that have the highest speed scores include Delaware with 7.0, Georgia (6.7), Colorado (6.7), Virginia (6.6), Massachusetts (6.3), Indiana (6.2), and South Carolina (6.2).
In addition to states already noted, those among the top in the nation for high driving risk scores include Alabama with 8.2, Kentucky (8.0), Louisiana (7.7), South Carolina (7.2), and Arkansas (7.0).