5 Most Dangerous States For Winter Driving


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: JANUARY 24, 2023 | 2 MIN READ

Hurricanes and tornadoes always seem to get the most attention in the news, but winter is the deadliest weather for driving. In 2016, there were 144 weather-related fatalities due to floods and tornadoes. In the same year, more than 2,800 fatalities happened due to rain and snow on American roads.

Winter road conditions like ice, sleet, freezing rain, and snow make getting behind the wheel dangerous. With winter weather right around the corner, it’s a good idea to understand your risk. We’re going to walk you through the worst states to drive in during winter.

Winter Driving Safety Tips That Can Save Your Life

There are a few things that you’re able to do to prepare your vehicle for winter road conditions before the snow, sleet, and icy roads hit your area.

Get a checkup

You don’t want your car breaking down during freezing temperatures. It’s important to make sure you’re regularly getting your vehicle checked for worn hoses, leaks, and other maintenance items. Your lights, brakes, heater, and defroster should all be in tip-top condition. You also might want to consider getting snow tires on your vehicle.

Verify your auto insurance

You want to ensure that you have the best auto insurance policy to protect your vehicle in case of a weather-related accident. Some accidents are unavoidable even when you’re careful. Cars regularly collide due to snowy conditions and icy roads. Call your insurance provider to verify your winter weather coverage. Compare car insurance quotes to ensure you’re getting the best rate possible.

Check your battery

As the temperatures drop, so does your battery power. You want your battery to have enough voltage, amperage, and reserve capacity to start when the mornings are cold. You might want to consider replacing your battery if it’s older than three years.

Top off your windshield wiper fluid

Snow and rain on your windshield drain your windshield wiper fluid quickly. Top off your windshield wiper fluid before the snow comes. You’ll likely have to refill it a few times before winter is over. Fall is a great time to ensure that your wipers don’t need replacement.

Most Dangerous States For Winter Driving

The most dangerous states for winter driving and icy conditions are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Illinois. Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s fatality analysis reporting system data, these five states account for 36% of winter driving total fatalities.

Pennsylvania

With 197 total fatalities from winter driving, Pennsylvania is the second-deadliest state due to nearly 40 winter driving deaths a year. The deadliest road for fatal crashes occurred on I-80, a major thoroughfare that runs across the entire state. It connects New York and Ohio, two states on our list for the highest winter driving fatality rates.

Ohio

With 172 total fatalities from winter driving, Ohio is one of the most dangerous states. The deadliest road for fatal crashes occurred on I-71, which connects major cities Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. The highway saw seven fatalities occurring along the route in 2017.

Michigan

With a whopping 282 winter driving fatalities, Michigan has the highest number of winter weather-related fatal crashes. During four years, there were 282 deaths due to bad weather, 85 more fatalities than the second-highest state.

New York

With 183 winter month fatalities, New York is the third worst state for driving fatalities. Over the years, winter driving deaths have declined in New York, dropping from 53 to 24 from 2013 to 2017. Queens had the most driving fatalities due to weather conditions of any municipality in the state, with seven total fatalities.

Illinois

With 135 winter driving fatalities, Illinois has, on average, 27 total fatalities per year between 2013 to 2017. Chicago was the biggest contributor to the number of deaths due to weather conditions. In Cook County, there were 30 fatalities during the same time period, which is more than there were in 18 states, including Arkansas, California, and New Mexico.

Essential Items to Keep In Your Car

Some essential items to have in your car to prepare for winter. Practicing travel safety means keeping emergency supplies in the trunk of your vehicle. These are some of the items you should have in your car:

  • Chains
  • Ice scraper
  • Spare tire
  • Snow shovel
  • Medications
  • Blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • Cell phone charger
  • Sand or kitty litter
  • Flashlight
  • Water
  • Food/snacks

It depends entirely on the state that you live in. If you’re in one of the states with the deadliest driving conditions, your chances are much higher. Residents in states such as Nevada, South Dakota, and Rhode Island have less than a 0.20 chance in 100,000 of ending up in a snow crash.

FAQs

Which three locations are the most dangerous during winter driving?

Any road is dangerous during icy road conditions. Most accidents occur in the following areas: Overpasses, bridges, and elevated roadways. Elevated roadways often collect ice and snow long before the rest of the roads.

What is the most dangerous season to drive in?

You might be surprised that summer is the most dangerous driving season. It’s due to the millions of families on road trips, friends at parties (involving alcohol), and teens out of school and on the road. Many accidents happen during the holidays, which is why Ride programs pop up. More accidents occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day than during any other time of the year.  

What is the deadliest day of the year to drive?

July 4th is the deadliest day of the year. Approximately 462 people in the U.S. die in traffic fatalities in 2022. Those traffic fatalities are 41% alcohol-related.

What are the three most dangerous driving conditions?

Heavy rainfall, black ice, and fog are the most dangerous driving conditions.

What are the three deadliest states in winter driving?

Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania are the deadliest states for winter driving.

What are the top three risks of winter driving?

The top three risks of winter driving are black ice, braking and acceleration too quickly, and lack of visibility.

How to Purchase Car Insurance For Winter Driving

Purchasing cheap car insurance is essential to protect yourself during winter weather conditions. Finding a reputable auto insurance company has never been easier. Ensuring you have the proper amount of bodily injury liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, or property damage liability is essential.

If you’re ready to get the cheapest auto insurance, it’s as simple as comparing rates as amounts vary by company. We have a helpful tool to find the best car insurance.