Best and worst states for teen drivers: Oregon and New York top the rankings

WalletHub has put together a ranking of 2023’s best and worst states for teen drivers. The financial site parsed data from at least 12 outside sources to measure 23 metrics, these metrics covering various aspects of vehicular incidents involving youths ages 13 to 19. The gamut runs from economic issues like a state’s maximum cost of a speeding ticket and average gas pricing, to a state’s driving laws like distracted driving infractions and leniency toward DUI violations, as well as safety aspects such as a state’s number of driving schools per capita, teen DUI infractions per 100,000 teens, and teen driver fatalities. For any wondering why kids as young as 13 are included, that’s because the study also put a number to post-crash financial implications for vehicle occupants. It found that “crashes involving 13- to 19-year-olds result in around $40.7 billion per year in costs from medical expenses and work loss.”

In the overall ranking, Oregon won the belt as the best state for teen drivers with a score of 67.52 out of 100. That’s one point ahead of New York and its score of 66.47. The Pacific Northwest state beat the New England state despite scoring lower on safety, ranked 17th among states compared to New York’s being first among the states, and lower for the economic environment, 36th compared to 25th. This was despite New York having the fewest teen fatalities per teen population and fourth fewest teen DUIs per teen population. Oregon beat New York in the Driving Laws category, however, scoring first among states compared to New York at number five.   

Four of the five most unsafe states for teen drivers are all in the upper West. South Dakota came in at #46, followed by North Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri peeking its head in from the Midwest, and Montana at #50. The Big Sky state was also ranked last for safety and for driving laws, for having the worst rate of teen DUIs per teen population, and was tied for last with Mississippi for teen driver fatalities. Montana ranked 43rd out of the 50 states for its economic environment.

This is timely information for three reasons:

First, vehicle crashes are said to be the leading cause of death among teens aged 16 to 19, and teens cause the most vehicular and financial carnage by being the age group with the highest risk of getting in crashes.

Second, Labor Day Weekend is coming up, and it is the deadliest summer driving holiday, and the second-deadliest driving holiday all year after Thanksgiving.

Third, the results show adults are the group causing havoc over Labor Day, according to a study insurance comparison site Jerry just published about the most dangerous times to drive during the weekend. Men in their 20s are most likely to be involved in fatal crashes over Labor Day, followed by men in every age group up to 60-69. Women in their 20s lead the way for risk, but that risk level is below men in their 60s, above men in their 70s. Teen boys are among the safest, one risk point above men in their 70s, five risk points above women in their 30s. Teen girls are even better, their risk 10 points above women in their 60s and 70s.

So the message might be to let teens be the designated drivers this weekend, but watch them like hawks the rest of the year. Check out WalletHub and Jerry for the full rankings, more context and methodologies for each study.