IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Financially Speaking, Here Are the Best, Worst States for Driving

When you weigh commute times, vehicle theft and fatal crashes and other factors, one state emerges as the best place to drive, a new report finds.
Image: Teton Scenic Byway in Idaho
The Teton Scenic Byway in Idaho.Peg Owens /

Tired of spending all that money to keep your car running, gassed up and insured?

Though these complaints are commonplace among drivers across the country, a new study has found that those living in states with fewer rural communities are likely to shell out more cash on auto-related costs.

The research, released Monday by Bankrate, also considered factors including commute times, the number vehicle of thefts and fatal crashes, to determine which states are the best and worst for drivers.

With only a few exceptions, the financial website concluded life is easier — and less expensive — in states that aren't home to major cities.

"Population density has a big effect on these rankings," explained Chris Kahn, Bankrate's research and statistics analyst. "The best states for drivers have lots of wide-open spaces, whereas the worst states tend to be filled with people and cars — a bad combination for drivers' wallets."

The best and worst cities for drivers

The top five states in the study are:

1. Idaho: Commutes average less than 20 minutes; insurance, gas and repair costs are low and car thefts run at about half the national average;

The Teton Scenic Byway in Idaho.Peg Owens /

2. Vermont: The state has the fewest amount of car thefts, quick commutes and a below-average number of fatal crashes;

3. Wyoming: Though fuel costs run nearly double the national average, Wyoming scored well in every other category, from repairs to commute times;

4. Wisconsin: Similar to Wyoming, Wisconsin ranked high in every category except fuel costs; and

5. Minnesota: The Midwest state is home to short commute times and few car thefts. It also had the second-lowest number of fatal crashes in the U.S.

Automaker Pull Retired Brands Off the Scrap Heap

As for the bottom-ranked states:

46. New Jersey: Drivers here have to deal with lengthy commutes and high costs in every category. But despite its tough image, Jersey has a lower-than-average number car thefts and fatal car crashes;

47. Maryland: The Old Line State is on the wrong side of the national average in every category but fatal car crashes;

48. Texas: Texas scored below the national average in all six categories analyzed;

49. California: The fatal crash rate is lower than the national average, but the long commutes, high costs of ownership and above-average number of car thefts caused the state to rank near the bottom of the list.

50. Louisiana: Despite being relatively rural, drivers in this state face the nation's highest car insurance costs and an above-average fatal car crash rate.

More from The Detroit Bureau:

Lawsuit targets 10 major automakersAutomakers rapidly expand crash avoidance technology American motorists frustrated by safety recalls