The U.S. cities with the worst drivers in 2024

Car crashes that result in fatalities and pedestrian deaths have been on the rise the last couple of years, with no indication of a slowdown. Forbes Advisor sifted through NHTSA and U.S. Census Bureau data on the 50 most populous cities in the country to find out which have the worst drivers — the ones contributing more than their share to the nationwide stats. The equation took five metrics into account and weighted them, all based on the number and kinds of fatal accidents per 100,000 residents: The overall number (per 100,000) (24%); how many involved drunk drivers (0.08 BAC or above) (19%); how many involved distracted drivers (19%); how many involved speeding (19%); and how many people were killed (19%).

The 10 cities with worst drivers:

  1. Albuquerque
  2. Memphis
  3. Detroit
  4. Tucson
  5. Kansas City, Missouri
  6. Dallas
  7. Louisville
  8. Phoenix
  9. Fort Worth
  10. Tampa

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool is considered weak on distracted-driving reporting, lacking rigorous controls for reporting and a definition. Even so, Albuquerque took the award for the highest number of fatal accidents that involve people focused on something other than driving. Beyond that, it didn’t score higher than third in any other category, taking bronze for the overall number of fatal accidents and the number of people killed.  

Memphis followed just 1.5 points behind despite winning three categories: Memphis drivers rang up the highest total number, the highest number involving a drunk driver, and the highest number of people killed. The city was saved from the headline spot by being eighth for distracted driving and 40th in fatal accidents involving speeding. That last one is an unexpected take, considering what we’ve seen on Memphis highways.

Detroit almost swept second place in every metric, only missing out by coming 22nd in the distracted driving category. 

Out of all the cities, Kansas City, Mo., had the highest number of fatal accidents involving speeding.

California led the overall rankings of 50 cities with the greatest number of cities in the bad-driver ranks, at nine, but none ranked higher than 22nd. Texas followed with six, but the Lone Stars put three cities in the top 15. 

Check out the study results for the rest of the rankings, an interactive map with the top 25 cities for worst drivers, and a searchable table that can be ranked by category.