The Quick Report

Who REALLY Has the Worst Traffic in the US? We Found Out

Love it or hate it, you’ll have to drive a lot in order to get anywhere in the United States. The country doesn’t have much in the way of meaningful public transportation and cities were designed around cars as the main mode of getting around. So, which states are the worst to drive in? Here they are from worst to best!


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You know the running joke that everything is more expensive in California? It’s kind of true. You’ll pay way more for car insurance, gas, and vehicle maintenance in California than you will in most other states. Moreover, California makes the most DWI arrests in the US. And, naturally, the state has truly unbelievable traffic congestion.


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Car insurance in Louisiana is higher than anywhere else in the country. This is miserable for drivers for a lot of reasons. It hits them in the wallet, and it underscores one of the state’s biggest drawbacks: its sky-high traffic fatality rates. This, paired with the long traffic jams and gridlocked driving patterns in urban areas, makes it a state to avoid driving in.


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Drivers get hit twice with bad driving conditions in Maryland. Not only is car insurance extremely expensive, but it’s also plagued by extremely dense traffic and urban congestion. This is especially true around Baltimore, where road and bridge quality is well under the national average.

New York

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With sky-high average costs and higher-than-average insurance premiums, it should come as no surprise that it’s tough to afford a car in New York. Moreover, the state has exceptionally high rates of urban congestion—almost entirely due to the presence of New York City, naturally.

Rhode Island

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While it might be the smallest state by landmass, Rhode Island also has the highest number of bridges and roads in poor repair. What’s worse, residents of the state spend more time in traffic jams than 90 percent of the rest of the country!


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Chicago is not a fun place to drive in, and that extends out into much of the rest of Illinois’ urban centers. The amount of congestion in the state’s most densely populated cities is frustrating, to say the least. On the bright side, the state’s overall traffic safety rating is great. You just won’t be getting anywhere anytime soon.


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Orlando, Miami, and Tampa are among the most miserable cities in the country to drive around in. For various reasons, Florida’s roads are abysmal, its traffic is extremely dense, and the concentration of traffic jams and urban congestion is unpredictable across the state.


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Colorado is naturally at a very high elevation, which makes maintaining its roads and bridges tricky. This, combined with the very high costs for gas and car insurance, makes driving in the state extremely miserable. The traffic congestion around population centers like Boulder and Denver is also unacceptable.


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It should come as no surprise that traffic in Hawaii is among the worst in the country. The densely populated island state is a popular destination for tourists and has a lot of population centers that can quickly become overwhelmed by a high number of cars. In addition, operating a vehicle in the state is very expensive.


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Between its terrible rural roads and the massive amounts of congestion in and around Seattle, it’s understandable to see Washington so high on this list. The traffic in the state is among the worst in the Pacific Northwest and the average cost of owning a car is far above the national average.


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Like many Mid-Atlantic states, Delaware has massive amounts of urban congestion. Just trying to get home during rush hour in Delaware can take hours and is an exercise in patience. Try to find a job close to home to cut down on that commute!

West Virginia

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West Virginia doesn’t have the densest traffic congestion in the country, but it’s still not somewhere you want to drive. The average road quality is terrible and the cost of getting repairs for your vehicle is far above the national average.


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Massachusetts has a bad reputation for the general attitudes of its drivers. While it’s not very scientific, anecdotal evidence suggests that drivers in the state are exceptionally rude and aggressive, and the state’s high rates of urban congestion certainly don’t alleviate this perception.


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Driving in Nevada is an exercise in contrast. Most of the state is a wide-open desert, complete with roads in abject disrepair. When you get close to population centers like Las Vegas, however, the road quality improves marginally while the traffic density also spikes immensely.


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If you learn anything from this list, it should be that New England has extremely dense traffic. Vermont, like most of the Northeast, is expensive to operate a car in and also replete with thick traffic jams and immovable urban congestion.


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Montana has a very high rate of drunk driving, with roughly 44% of traffic fatalities in the state being caused by drunk drivers. It’s not a particularly densely populated state, and, as such, the average amount of traffic isn’t that bad. It’s still not a great place to drive though due to the aforementioned hazards.

New Hampshire

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New Hampshire, like most states in New England, isn’t somewhere you want to drive. The high amounts of urban congestion alone make driving from place to place in the state a nightmare. Moreover, it’s extremely expensive to own and insure a car in the Granite State.

New Jersey

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: New Jersey drivers have a reputation for being rude and aggressive. The state has extreme urban traffic density, especially when you get closer to New York City. On the bright side, the roads are generally in great shape!


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Driving in Missouri is troublesome for a number of reasons. Many of the state’s roads are in poor condition, the traffic congestion around areas like Kansas City and St. Louis is abysmal, and the state has a higher-than-average rate of DUIs.


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Oregon’s relatively low spot on this list is partly due to the high cost of vehicle ownership in the state. It’s also because of the heavy amounts of traffic in major cities like Portland. But, mainly, it’s down to the state’s frightening DUI statistics: it’s got the ninth-highest rate of traffic deaths caused by drunk drivers.


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Alaska has next to no traffic when you get outside of cities like Juneau and Anchorage. However, that’s also where the average road quality dips into essentially unacceptable levels. When you get to the north side of the state, you can basically forget even trying to drive. At that point you’re just in the Artic Circle, so there’s probably not much that far north that you’d even want to visit.


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Surprise, surprise: New England has heavy traffic! If you’re sick of reading that, you know people in Connecticut are sick of living it. Much of the state’s high rates of urban congestion are related to the southeast corner’s proximity to New York City.


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Maine is a bit unique among New England states in that its overall traffic density isn’t that bad. What is bad, however, is the quality of the state’s roads. The extreme remoteness of some of the state’s northern cities makes it difficult to maintain their infrastructure, making them very unfun to drive on.


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Michigan falls near the middle of the pack in terms of traffic and road quality. It varies throughout the state, with Detroit being the kind of place you never want to drive in. Rural parts of the state can be downright pleasant to cruise through, though.

South Carolina

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South Carolina’s overall road quality varies dramatically from the Upstate to the Low Country. The further south you go, the worse the roads tend to be. Traffic is the worst in areas like Columbia and Charleston, and this is exacerbated by a high rate of drunk drivers when compared to the national average. It’s overall an acceptable-at-best state to drive in.


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Pennsylvania isn’t bad to drive in and falls roughly in the middle of our list. Philadelphia has extremely dense traffic, but it’s the main outlier in a state that’s mostly rural. The outlying cities in the state have relatively safe roads and low traffic density.


Where Abe watches traffic

Kentucky is in the middle of the road when it comes to traffic quality. There’s not much exceptional to say about the state’s traffic, which is probably a good thing! Just avoid major highways around rush hour and you’ll be just fine.


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Another middling state, Minnesota is a bit too remote to have much in the way of dense traffic outside of the Twin Cities. Though, one notable aspect of the state’s traffic is its overall road quality, which is somewhat lower than the national average.

South Dakota

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While South Dakota ranks highly in terms of low traffic congestion and relatively affordable car maintenance, it’s one of the most dangerous states to drive in. South Dakota’s high concentration of drunk drivers, with 880 arrests per 100,000, makes it a very risky state to drive through.


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Mississippi’s traffic isn’t terrible by any means. In fact, it’s got some of the lowest rush hour congestion in the country, and it’s somewhat affordable to own and operate a car in the state. However, it doesn’t get the highest marks because it gets a very low safety rating national.


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Virginia falls in the middle of the pack in almost every traffic metric. It’s got average congestion, nearly average costs of owning a vehicle, and a middling safety rating. Sometimes being unremarkable is kind of a good thing, and this is one of those times!


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The best thing about driving in Arizona is that it has among the lowest days of precipitation of any state in the country. This means there are fewer days when drivers can be distracted by rain or snow! The state also generally just has a low overall traffic density.


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The traffic in Arkansas is completely unremarkable. The state’s roads are in great shape, the traffic density is low compared to the national average, and it’s relatively affordable to own and operate a car in the state. Good job, Arkansas!

New Mexico

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Driving in New Mexico is usually pretty relaxing. There are huge open swaths of desert to drive across and relatively few instances of heavy urban congestion. However, the state unfortunately possesses the second-highest rate of drunk drivers under 21 involved in fatal crashes, so take caution on the roads in the Land of Enchantment.


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Wisconsin earns high marks for its low amount of urban congestion, affordable car ownership, and high safety ratings. It’s not the biggest state by far, and that helps keep the traffic from getting out of hand in even the state’s most densely populated cities.


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Wyoming is a wide-open state with a very, very low population density. You’ll encounter few other motorists driving through the state, and you’ll be treated to some stunning views of the surrounding natural environment. This is one place you want to take a road trip to.


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Nebraska is dominated by farmland and possesses one of the lowest population densities in the United States. That makes it very difficult to find congested traffic, earning the state it’s high spot on this list! Enjoy a scenic drive through farmland and don’t worry about traffic jams.

North Dakota

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North Dakota has very little in the way of traffic. It’s a sparsely populated state with relatively safe roads and low costs of vehicle ownership. However, it’s a bit unnerving to drive through this state at night: it has the second-highest rate of DUI arrests, behind only South Dakota. Scary!


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The cost of gas in Texas is near the lowest in the country, largely due to the state possessing a huge number of oil refineries. It’s also a breeze to drive through the vast stretches of highway in the state. This is great for drivers! What’s not so great is the state’s high rate of drunk driving, with around 42% of traffic fatalities coming from drunk drivers. Moreover, the urban centers are infamous for their dense traffic.


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Knoxville and Nashville are among the only two areas in Tennessee that typically have heavy traffic, and even these cities aren’t that bad to navigate. The Volunteer State also leads the nation in terms of vehicle affordability and also has excellent access to repairs and maintenance compared to the national average.

North Carolina

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North Carolina has low cost of vehicle ownership and higher-than-average safety ratings for drivers. Driving in Charlotte can be testing, but the state otherwise possesses relatively stress-free roads. Just stay away from I-85 around rush hour and you’ll be just fine!


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Alabama’s high rating in this list is largely due to the state’s excellent cost of vehicle ownership and surprisingly good vehicle infrastructure. While cities like Birmingham could have out-of-control traffic jams, smart road layouts and civil engineering keep things flowing.


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Oklahoma has very low rates of traffic congestion and extremely affordable costs to own a car. Like Texas, this is partly because the state has a close proximity to oil refineries, keeping gas prices low. However, the state has the tenth highest rate of drunk drivers being involved in fatal crashes.


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Kansas has excellent road safety ratings for a variety of reasons. For one thing, the state is wide-open and flat, making maintenance a breeze. For another, Kansas has a somewhat low population density, which means it’s easy to keep the roads in great condition. And, as you’d expect, traffic congestion is never that bad.


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Georgia’s only dense traffic occurs around Atlanta’s downtown region, where things can get a bit hairy around rush hour. The state takes DUIs very seriously and hands down harsh punishments for infractions. Moreover, Georgia’s got great road infrastructure and the highest gas stations per capita in the US.


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Driving in Idaho is a breeze. It has the smallest number of roads in disrepair and people in the state have the lowest amount of traffic to contend with. This, combined with the very affordable car insurance rates, make this a state that’s great for car owners.


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Driving in Indiana is safe and affordable compared to the national average. It has a very low traffic fatality rate and is among the highest states for average seatbelt usage! Drivers in the state also enjoy car insurance rates far below most other states.


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Utah has very few bridges in disrepair, a small number of yearly traffic fatalities, and a very low density of urban congestion. The only real blemish on this state for driving is its unusually high average gas prices, which are partially offset by lower car insurance premiums.

Read More: 12 Simple Tips to Get the Best Car Lot Deals


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Iowa is middling in terms of safety for drivers, but it excels in a few categories. First of all, it’s got downright excellent road conditions. Secondly, it’s very inexpensive to both own and operate a vehicle in the state thanks to low insurance and gas prices.

Read More: Here’s How Each State’s Cost of Living Ranks


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Believe it or not, Ohio is the best overall state for drivers. This is mainly because the state has extremely low car insurance premiums and among the lowest costs for car repairs. What’s more, Ohioans use their seatbelts more on average than any other state’s residents. Best of all, the state has very low rates of urban congestion!

Read More: The Most Scenic Drive in Each State