(The Center Square) – Iowa is the best state in the nation to drive in, WalletHub reported in its 2022 ranking of the Best and Worst States to Drive In.
Iowa achieved a total score of 62.04. Oklahoma (61.65 points) and Kansas (61.51 points) placed second and third, respectively. Among Iowa’s neighbors, Wisconsin fared the best (7th) and Missouri was left in the dust (42nd).
Iowa placed fifth in cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance and seventh in traffic and infrastructure. Average annual car insurance premium is $1,032, compared with Missouri’s $1,895, and total extra vehicle operating costs per driver (Iowa: $336, 4th; Missouri: $743, 45th). Missouri outranked Iowa in lowest average gas prices ($3.06, fifth place; $3.17, 14th place, respectively) and in auto-maintenance costs ($46.24, ninth place; $52.47, 28th place).
Iowa has the fourth-best road quality in the nation. It placed sixth in average commute time by car (19.64 minutes compared with Missouri’s 23.83) and urban interstates’ experiencing traffic congestion during peak rush hour (21 percent compared with Missouri’s 47 percent, 25th place). Iowa has the seventh-highest number of roadway miles per 1,000 persons (36.57).
However, the Hawkeye State placed 38th in safety and 22nd in access to vehicles and maintenance. Access to vehicles and maintenance received a weight of 10 points. The other categories received weighting of 30 points.
It ranked ninth in traffic indiscipline, a measurement of incidents due to “poor behavior” including phone use, speeding, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking and poor turning. Iowa is among several states whose traffic fatality rate increased from 2018 to 2019, when its traffic fatality rate was 10.60 per 100,000 population. Traffic fatalities totaled 336 in 2019, or 1 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Fatality rates have decreased since 2002 totals. That year, there were 405 fatalities total, 1.31 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
It had the second-highest animal loss claims per total number of drivers (498.06). Wisconsin and Missouri also suffered in this category (475.14, 47th; 429.86, 44th). Likelihood of collision with animals was also high (1.69%, 41st lowest).
Iowa’s car theft and larceny rates are below average in rankings. Its strictness of DUI punishment is 24thhighest in the country while its strictness of high-risk driving is 46th. About one in 10 drivers are uninsured (25th lowest share).
Iowa has above average car dealerships, auto-repair shops, car washes, gas stations, and alternative fuel stations per capita, but Missouri ranks higher for per-capita count for each of these establishments except for car washes (17th vs 14th). Iowa ranks 33rd for parking lots and garages per capita, while Wisconsin and Missouri rank 24th and 19th, respectively.
University of Dayton Professor Emeritus of History John Heitmann said in the report that people seeking to keep car ownership costs low should buy very good, highly reliable vehicles to keep long-term and take good care of them, changing all fluids regularly.
Heitmann said, on the national level, that severe penalties for drinking alcohol or using drugs and driving will help reduce traffic fatalities. Limiting the use of electronic devices in cars is also essential, he said. Prison terms should be very high for vehicular manslaughter, he said.
He said self-driving cars will be readily available sometime after 2030. Recognition technology needs to improve, and insurance and liability issues remain, he said. The government should stay out of promoting the auto industry, he added.
“Government bureaucrats are simply too limited in their thinking when it comes to personal transportation,” he said.
Hawaii, Rhode Island and Delaware were named the worst states to drive in.