Home » Arizona Cities Make The List For The Most and Least Safe Cities for U.S. Drivers

Arizona Cities Make The List For The Most and Least Safe Cities for U.S. Drivers

by Pleasant View

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a noticeable impact on traffic volume during the past few years. Between 2019 and 2021, the number of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. dropped by 3%, according to The Road Information Program (TRIP), a nonprofit organization that studies surface transportation issues. A recent U.S. News & World Report survey of driving habits bears this out: 49% of those surveyed say they drive less now than they did before the pandemic.

But that lighter traffic volume has not resulted in fewer traffic fatalities. During that same three-year span, reported traffic fatalities increased by about 19% – from 36,096 in 2019 to 42,915 in 2021, according to the TRIP study.

The degree of risk a driver faces is determined by a number of factors, including where they live, how many miles they drive, and the type of car they own. Where someone lives also can influence how much they pay for auto insurance. For example, the average annual car insurance rate is less than $900 in Lebanon, New Hampshire, while the average annual rate is more than $3,300 in Miami. (Learn more about U.S. News & World Report’s Best Car Insurance Companies of 2023rating.)

U.S. News & World Report commissioned a study of the 50 largest U.S. cities to determine which are the safest and riskiest for drivers. The study looked at data on fatal auto accidents per capita in each city from 2016 to 2020. It also looked at the number of people per capita involved in fatal crashes in each city during that same time frame.

In addition, it examined the average fatality rate per miles traveled in each state from 2019 to 2021; the number of DUI arrests per capita in each state from 2017 to 2019; and the rate of auto thefts from 2019 through 2021.

Key Findings

Among the findings of U.S. News & World Report’s study of the safest and riskiest cities for drivers:

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Memphis, Tenn., is the most dangerous for drivers

Memphis tops the list of riskiest cities for U.S. drivers, according to our analysis. It ranks No. 1 when it comes to fatal car accidents per capita and No. 1 for people involved in fatal crashes per capita. In addition, Memphis is ranked No. 9 when it comes to the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Rounding out the top five cities for overall risk are: Albuquerque, N.M. (No. 2); Detroit (No. 3); Louisville, Ken. (No. 4); and Tuscon, Ariz. (No.5). Two other Arizona cities also are in the top 10: Phoenix (No. 6) and Mesa (No. 8).

Boston is the safest city for drivers

Despite their size, larger U.S. cities such as San Francisco (No. 42), Seattle (No. 43), Chicago (No. 45), and New York (No. 49) are near the bottom of the list of riskiest cities for drivers. Boston (No. 50) is considered the least risky overall for drivers. Massachusetts’ biggest city also ranked last in motor thefts per 100,000 people and last in DUI arrests per capita.

Honolulu (No. 48) also stands out when it comes to safe driving: It was rated No. 50 in people involved in fatal crashes per capita, and it was ranked No. 49 in fatal accidents.

Albuquerque, N.M., has the highest fatality rate

Albuquerque, New Mexico, topped our ranking of cities with the highest fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled. The city, New Mexico’s most populous, is also No. 2 in our ranking of riskiest U.S. cities overall for drivers.

Rounding out the five cities with the highest fatality rates are: Louisville, Kentucky (No. 2); Oklahoma City (No. 3); Tulsa, Oklahoma (No. 4); and Jacksonville, Florida (No. 5). The safest cities in this category include: Honolulu (No. 46); Milwaukee (No. 47); New York City (No. 48); Minneapolis (No. 49); and Boston (No. 50).

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Colorado cities lead the nation in DUI arrests

The cities of Colorado Springs and Denver top the nation in driving under the influence (DUI) arrests per capita at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. The cities of Milwaukee (No. 3); Seattle (No. 4); and Albuquerque, New Mexico (No. 5) round out the top five. The five safest cities in this category are Tampa, Florida (No. 46); Miami (No. 47); Chicago (No. 48); Columbus, Ohio (No. 49); and Boston (No. 50).

The FBI defines DUI as: “Driving or operating a motor vehicle or common carrier while mentally or physically impaired as the result of consuming an alcoholic beverage or using a drug or narcotic.”

Bakersfield, Calif., is the worst for vehicle theft

Bakersfield, California, leads the nation when it comes to the rate of motor vehicle theft. The city, which is located in the southern San Jauquin Valley, also is rated the No. 11 riskiest city overall, based on our analysis.

Rounding out the top five cities for motor vehicle theft are Denver (No. 2); Albuquerque, New Mexico (No. 3); Portland, Oregon (No. 4); and Oakland, California (No. 5). Motor vehicle thefts are least likely in Tampa, Florida (No. 46); Raleigh, North Carolina (No. 47); El Paso, Texas (No. 48); New York City (No. 49); and Boston (No. 50).

Here are the 50 riskiest U.S. cities for driving:


1 Memphis, Tenn.
2 Albuquerque, N.M.
3 Detroit
4 Louisville, Ken.
5 Tucson, Ariz.
6 Phoenix
7 Jacksonville, Fla.
8 Mesa, Ariz.
9 Dallas
10 Atlanta
11 Bakersfield, Calif.
12 Tampa, Fla.
13 Oklahoma City
14 Tulsa, Okla.
15 Milwaukee
16 Nashville
17 San Antonio
18 Miami
19 Fort Worth, Texas
20 Wichita, Kan.
21 Denver
22 Houston
23 Kansas City, Mo.
24 Sacramento, Calif.
25 Fresno, Calif.
26 Colorado Springs, Colo.
27 Charlotte/Mecklenburg, N.C.
28 Portland, Ore.
29 El Paso, Texas
30 Austin, Texas
31 Los Angeles
32 Oakland, Calif.
33 Long Beach, Calif.
34 Philadelphia
35 Arlington, Texas
36 San Diego
37 San Jose, Calif.
38 Omaha, Neb.
39 Raleigh, N.C.
40 Baltimore
41 Columbus, Ohio
42 San Francisco
43 Seattle
44 Virginia Beach, Va.
45 Chicago
46 Minneapolis
47 Washington, D.C.
48 Honolulu
49 New York City
50 Boston
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U.S. News & World Report ranked the nation’s 50 most populated cities on several factors that determine how risky or safe a city is for drivers. The overall rankings ordered cities from No. 1 (riskiest) to No. 50 (safest).

Each factor was ranked by indexing the values. The top-ranked value received a value of 100; the lowest-ranked value received a value of zero; and the rest fell in between. An index was then multiplied according to how that factor was weighed, with all factor weights adding up to 100%.

Data for each factor were gathered from the best possible public sources and were weighted accordingly:

Some data on these factors was only available at the state level, so it was the same for each city in that state. DUI arrest data was incomplete for the city of Washington, D.C., so data from the neighboring state of Virginia was used instead.

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