Tired of spending so much to keep your car running, gassed up and insured? If you’re looking to cut costs, you might consider moving to a place with wide-open spaces, according to a new study that ranks the best and worst states for drivers.
The new study also considers other factors like commute times, vehicle thefts and fatal crashes. All things considered, Idaho tops the chart according to research by financial website Bankrate.com, while Louisiana lands at the bottom of the list. With only a few exceptions, drivers will find life easier – and less expensive — in rural regions of the country, the study reveals.
“Population density has a big effect on these rankings,” explained Chris Kahn, Bankrate.com’s research and statistics analyst. “The best states for drivers have lots of wide-open spaces, whereas the worst states tend to be filled with people and cars – a bad combination for drivers’ wallets.”
The top five states in the study are, in order:
*Idaho, where commutes average less than 20 minutes, insurance, gas and repair costs are low, and car thefts run half the national average. But fatal crashes are slightly higher than the national norm;
*Vermont has less than a quarter of the national average in car thefts, has quick commutes, few fatal crashes, and low costs in every category but fuel, where it is slightly higher than the national average;
*Wyoming suffers from high fuel prices – nearly double the national norm – but it does well in every other category, from repairs to commute times, car thefts and fatal crashes;
*Wisconsin scores well in every category except fuel costs which run an average $1,033.65 annually compared to the national average of $949;
*Minnesota has short commutes, few car thefts and is cheaper than the national norm on ownership costs. And it has barely 60% of the national average in fatal car crashes per 100 million miles traveled.
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Fuel prices tend to make a big difference in determining which states are the best – or worst – for drivers, according to the study. But Wyoming motorists – who spend an average $1613.88 on fuel – shows that other factors can offset that pain at the pump.
At the other extreme, Louisiana was ranked the worst state in the country for motorists, despite being relatively rural. The Bayou State suffers from the nation’s highest car insurance costs and an above-average fatal car crash rate, noted the new study. In fact, it was higher than average in every category but car thefts.
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The other bottom-ranked states, in descending order:
*New Jersey suffers from long commute and higher costs in every category. But despite its tough image, it has lower-than-average car thefts and fatal car crashes;
*Maryland is on the wrong side of the national average in every category but fatal car crashes which are about 25% lower;
*Texas doesn’t do well in a single category. It may produce plenty of oil, but motorists pay about 9% more than average, and fatal crashes are 30% higher;
*California is a high-cost state with long commutes and nearly double the national average in car thefts. But it does have a 15% lower fatal crash rate.
The results of the study are fairly broad, so motorists in one part of a big state like Texas, for example, may find things easier and less expensive.
In general, Kahn noted, motorists can take steps to lower their costs – such as carpooling – and minimize other problems, such as car theft by adding an alarm system or parking in garages or guarded lots.
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