Texas Is the Best State for Driving Amid Pandemic, Study Finds

Texas is the best state in the country for driving amid the coronavirus pandemic — and Hawaii is the worst, according to a new study released Tuesday by personal finance website WalletHub.

[READ: These States Have the Worst Roads in America]

WalletHub assigned scores to each state by analyzing driving-related metrics such as traffic fatality rates, gas stations per capita, road quality, average annual car insurance premiums and weather patterns. Data was collected from federal agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Energy, as well as private companies such as State Farm and EverQuote. Some data metrics — such as average gas prices and share of rush-hour traffic congestion — were analyzed recently and reflect the new normal of the pandemic and its impact on the roads, according to WalletHub.

Due to its strong scores related to gas prices, weather and access to car maintenance, Texas was ranked No. 1 in the study. Indiana, North Carolina, Iowa and Tennessee rounded out the top five for overall driving. Several Northeastern states — including Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire — were among those with the lowest car theft rates. Maine also appeared in the top 10.

Hawaii was ranked as the worst state for driving, due at least in part to the cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance, traffic and infrastructure, and gas prices. California, Washington, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island join the Aloha State at the bottom of the rankings. Unsurprisingly, several of those states had among the highest percentages of rush-hour traffic congestion, even during the pandemic.

Despite there being less traffic gridlock in the U.S. due to social-distancing restrictions and increased remote work situations, the number of people killed on the country’s highways rose an alarming 4.6% during the first nine months of 2020, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The agency blamed the spike on drivers who took “more risks” on the quieter roads. While traffic deaths fell 1.1% during the second quarter — when pandemic lockdowns were at their most severe — traffic fatalities increased by more than 13% between July and September 2020 and the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was much higher than previous years, according to the agency’s data.

[MORE: Low U.S. Traffic Levels ‘Unprecedented’ During Coronavirus Pandemic]

Education and funding for manufacturers could help reduce the number of traffic deaths moving forward, said Fred Barez, an engineering professor at San José State University.

“Major reasons for car accidents are ‘driver fatigue’ and ‘distracted drivers,'” Barez told WalletHub. “States could provide funding to car manufacturers and private industry to develop tools to address driver fatigue and distraction. Similar to seat belts, mirrors and rearview cameras, distracted driver devices could be implemented in cars. Just think of the number of lives saved due to the installation of seat belts in vehicles.”

Less-congested highways and increased remote-work opportunities could continue beyond the pandemic. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s biweekly Household Pulse Survey showed that more than 37% of respondents said at least one adult in their home substituted some or all of their typical in-person work for telework because of COVID-19. This constituted a slight increase compared to previous weeks of the survey.

More from U.S. News

These States Have the Worst Roads in America

Low U.S. Traffic Levels ‘Unprecedented’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

The States Struggling the Most During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Texas Is the Best State for Driving Amid Pandemic, Study Finds originally appeared on usnews.com

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