Young Driver

Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers (2021)

For the average teenager, a driver’s license means a newfound sense of independence with the added bonus for parents of no longer having to be the family chauffeur. However, teenage drivers remain the demographic most at risk on the road. Drivers ages 16 to 19 are up to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than anyone older than 20.

A recent study from WalletHub examined the risks for teenage drivers on a state-by-state basis. Overall, WalletHub researchers studied 23 key data points ranging from teen driver fatalities and the presence of impaired driving laws to the cost of car repairs. Based on the data, WalletHub has compiled its list of the best and worst states for teen drivers in 2021. Below is a summary of WalletHub’s findings.

10 Best States For Teen Drivers

  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut
  • Alaska
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Texas
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey

10 Worst States For Teen Drivers

  • South Carolina
  • New Hampshire
  • Arkansas
  • Nebraska
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • South Dakota
  • Idaho
  • Wyoming

Best State For Teen Drivers: New York 

New York ranks highest for safety and best protective laws for teenagers. New York also has the fewest vehicle miles traveled per capita at 6,335 – almost three times less than the miles racked up in Wyoming at around 17,569 miles.

State With Lowest Teen Deaths: Rhode Island

Rhode Island holds the lowest numbers when it comes to fatal car accidents involving teens. 1.10 out of 100,000 teens die in a car accident in Rhode Island. These numbers come up remarkably lower than Wyoming, which ranked at 17.45 out of 100,000.

Lowest Increase In Auto Insurance: Hawaii

Hawaii has the lowest premium increase for parents who add a teen driver to their auto insurance policy. Only three percent is added to the policy’s cost, much lower than New Jersey, where the increase is around 223 percent, according to the WalletHub study.

State With The Best Road Conditions: Tennessee 

Tennessee maintains its roads well. Only 14 percent of roads in the Volunteer State qualified as poor or mediocre. Rhode Island, by comparison, has 77 percent of its roads in unsatisfactory, poor, or mediocre condition, roughly five times worse than Tennessee.

Young teenage driver getting into a car.

What Can Parents Do?

As much as we may wish to view a driver’s license as something that can wait, it often provides relief for families with multiple schedules to juggle. However, with that relief also comes the worry as your teenager is on the road for the first time. Understanding the facts and risk factors can help you and your family watch out for the potential risks in your home state.

“Driving provides an opportunity for teens to increase autonomy and self-efficacy, which are important developmental goals before adulthood. Driving also improves the ability for teens in areas without public transportation to participate in the workforce and extracurricular activities,” said Sarah M. Tashjian, Postdoctoral Scholar in Affective Neuroscience, California Institute of Technology. “As teens are seeking increased responsibility and self-sufficiency, one way to support their development is by allowing them to get their license, which provides independent mobility.”

Research Car Insurance Providers

For states with expensive insurance, look into insurance companies that offer discounts for maintaining good grades or safe driver monitoring programs. Based on our research, we recommend either USAA or Geico for low-cost, high-quality coverage when it comes to insuring a younger driver.

“Make sure that your teen driver takes all available training and educational programs that are available in your areas. In some states, these can benefit your insurance premiums,” said David S. Hurwitz, Civil and Construction Engineering Professor at Oregon State University. “Some insurance programs also offer safe driver plans that include monitoring your vehicle for evidence of risky behavior like hard braking. Participating in those programs can also reduce premiums in some states.”

Understand When & How Accidents Happen

For states with higher fatalities, try and research where most accidents happen and when. As a general rule of thumb, the most dangerous times to drive are the late afternoon and early evening, with Saturday being the deadliest day of the week. Furthermore, since most accidents trace back to distraction, teaching your teen to put their phone down will also play a large role in improving their safety.

Since we are based in Detroit, we recommend reviewing these safe driving tips from the Michigan State Police with your teenager. However, those tips are universal no matter when you live.

Emily Pruitt is fascinated by the current changes in the automotive industry, from electric cars and infrastructure to fully autonomous vehicles. Outside of the automotive world, she can be found writing poetry or unraveling the latest mystery novel.