Which state has the worst drivers in the U.S.?

When you get cut off, stuck behind a slow poke in the passing lane or see someone whizzing by at 90 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone, it's tradition to check the license plate and say, "No wonder -- they're from such-and-such state."

Now there's a study that gives credence to that claim. But it may not be the state you suspect. It could, in fact, be your state.

SmartAsset, a financial tech firm that offers interactive tools for home buying, insurance and investment, completed a survey that offers one metric for assessing which state has the baddest of the bad when it comes to road warriors.

Rounding up data from the Insurance Research Council, Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SmartAsset concludes that the worst drivers live -- and die -- in the Southeast.

"Maybe it's the heat causing road rage, but four of the top 10 states in our study are located in the Southeast," said study author Derek Miller, who examined factors such as arrests for driving while intoxicated, speeding tickets, deaths and the percentage of people with auto insurance compared to the number of (presumably licensed) drivers.

Here's a list of the worst, and the reasons why:

1. Florida. Floridians Google "speeding tickets" and "traffic tickets" more than any other state. They also have the second lowest number of insured drivers in the nation.

2. Mississippi. The state had the fifth-highest number of deaths resulting from auto accidents and the 12th highest rate of DUI arrests per driver in the country. Like Florida, relatively few people are insured.

3. Oklahoma. When it comes to states with many uninsured drivers, Oklahoma has more than its fair share: Only 74 percent of its drivers are insured. It also has one of the 15 worst scores in DUIs per thousand drivers and the number of people killed per thousand drivers in auto accidents.

4. New Jersey. The Garden State has the second-most deaths per driver.

5. Delaware. New Jersey's neighbor and rival for worst drivers in the mid-Atlantic region, Delaware is the only state with more deaths per driver than New Jersey.

6. Alabama. This state has bad scores all around.

7. Vermont. It leads the nation in DUIs per driver with 50 per thousand drivers.

8. Tennessee. The state is one of the least insured states in the country, with 20 percent of drivers not having car insurance. Tennessee also has the 18th highest number of deaths per thousand drivers.

9. Texas. It has the highest percentage of deaths from drunk driving at 40 percent.

10. Nevada. Nevada is the third-worst state for traffic and speeding tickets, as well as being the 17th worst state for DUIs.

So which states seem to have better drivers? Miller's findings let some overcrowded northeastern states like Massachusetts off the hook, despite the bad reputation of Boston drivers, he said. It ranked 48th down the list because it has the highest rate of insured drivers.

The best state in SmartAsset's survey? Maine.

Insurers generally second the findings.

"Some of the most expensive states for auto insurance -- Florida and New Jersey -- are also those with the worst drivers," said Loretta Worters, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, which represents car insurers. "Delaware's size, density and location contribute to a generally high rate of traffic fatalities, and the trend appears to be worsening."

  • Ed Leefeldt

    Ed Leefeldt is an award-winning investigative and business journalist who has worked for Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, and contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.