Which State Is the Best for Drivers?

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CARS.COM — If January finds you holed up by the fireplace thumbing through friends’ Instagram posts from Maui, take solace in this: As driving conditions go, Hawaii rates a solid Anoha. That’s according to Washington, D.C.-based personal-finance site WalletHub.

Related: Study Reveals Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers

WalletHub analyzed 23 metrics, from average gas prices to share of traffic congestion during rush hour, to rank all 50 states by driver friendliness on a 100-point scale. It’s the first such state-by-state study the site has conducted. Texas took the top spot with 63.68 points, followed closely by Kansas (63.56 points) and Nebraska (63.09). At the other end were No. 48 Maryland (48.31), No. 49 Washington (44.08) and in distant last — with a gap nearly equal to the difference between the 49th and 21st states — No. 50 Hawaii (31.83).

WalletHub organized the metrics into four broad categories:

  • Ownership and maintenance costs — gas prices, car insurance premiums, maintenance expenses and additional vehicle-operation costs
  • Traffic and infrastructure — share of rush-hour congestion, days with precipitation, days with ice, average vehicle commute times, road quality, bridge quality and miles of road per 1,000 people
  • Safety — traffic incidents due to poor behavior, traffic fatality rates, car-theft rates, larceny rates, DUI laws and insurance penalties for high-risk driving
  • Access to vehicles and maintenance — per-capita density of dealerships, repair shops, car washes, gas stations and parking facilities

The Lone Star State didn’t rank first in any single broad category, but it ranked second in access to vehicles and maintenance, and landed in the top half of all states for the other three groups — to be expected for a state that boasts four of WalletHub’s top 10 cities for drivers.

Top states for each category are Nebraska (traffic and infrastructure), New York (safety), Alabama (cost of ownership and maintenance) and California (access to vehicles and maintenance). Go here to see the full list.

Hawaii’s last-place rank came primarily from its bottom finish in ownership and maintenance. The state also ranked near the bottom for traffic and infrastructure, and access to vehicles and maintenance. Among particular factors, Hawaii was last in fuel prices, miles of road per 1,000 people, and per-capita car washes and gas stations, according to Diana Popa, WalletHub’s communications manager.

But Hawaii did rank best in the U.S. in one area: icy days per year. With an average daytime winter temperature of 78 degrees, the Aloha State gets frosty only when someone decorates their lawn with inflatable Christmas displays.

What’s more, driving displeasure may have little effect on general well-being. Hawaii is the third-best state for overall happiness, according to WalletHub’s 28-factor happiness ranking. The social media jealousy is warranted: Pricey gas and scant car washes aside, there are worse places to end up.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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