Where Are the Worst Drivers in New York State?

New York City residents might have a reputation for being aggressive drivers, but is that reputation deserved? The data reveals that when compared to other counties in the state, New York City is far from the worst. In fact, based on the number of accidents per 1,000 residents, the five boroughs of NYC come in almost last.

So where are the worst drivers in the Empire State? That’s a subjective question and a lot of criteria could be used to qualify “worst.” Rosenblum Law looked at newly-released 2017 auto accident data, including data on death and serious injury to determine which areas have the “worst drivers.” While accidents are not always the result of poor driving habits, the majority of crashes–77%–had human factors. Here’s what was uncovered.

NY Counties with the Most Car Crashes

The counties with the greatest number of accidents corresponds closely with the list of counties with the greatest population as well as those with the most vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Long Island’s Suffolk and Nassau Counties had the most accidents in 2017. Queens and Brooklyn came in third and fourth, respectively, followed by Erie County on the Canadian border.

However, when ranked by crashes per 1,000 VMT, the picture changes. Brooklyn, which has the seventh-most vehicle miles traveled with nearly 14 million, had highest rate of automotive accidents: 1.75 per 1,000 VMT. Yates County, with the third-least vehicle miles traveled, came in at No. 9 on this list. Long Island’s Nassau County, which had the second-most accidents in 2017 also had the second-most vehicle miles traveled and still came in at No. 6 for accidents per 1,000 miles.

 2017 Crashes2017 VMTCrashes per 1,000 VMT
Bronx 4778692110001.51
Queens 37956202890001.26
Wyoming 645329200001.15
Nassau 309612258500001.14
Tompkins 4049319670001.1
Schenectady 7548531420001.06
Franklin 1800011970000.97
Yates 606045670000.93

NY Counties with the Most Serious Accidents

Not all accidents are equal; we also sorted counties based on crashes that resulted in death and serious injury. The good news is that the average fatality rate is only 0.38% across all counties, and no county had a fatality rate of higher than 1.5%.

Orleans County, northeast of Erie and next door to Niagara County, had the highest lethal crash rate with 1.37% of crashes resulting in death. Genesee County, just south of Orleans, came in at No. 6 on this list.

 2017 CrashesAccidents with FatalitiesLethality Rate
Orleans 65690.0137
Lewis 57850.0087
Fulton 85460.007
Schuyler 44430.0068
Columbia 1483100.0067
Genesee 1944130.0067
Seneca 78150.0064
Herkimer 112070.0063
Cattaraugus 152690.0059
Chenango 103760.0058

When one includes serious injuries in the data, the picture changes again, but not dramatically. Orleans, Schuyler, Lewis and Fulton Counties all rank high on the list of counties with the highest rate of serious injury and death in auto accidents. Niagara County, which does not appear on any other list, pops up here with the eighth-highest serious injury and death rate. However, Genesee County falls off the top-10 list dropping all the way to No. 15.

However, when considering the rate of serious injury or death per 1,000 vehicle miles traveled, three of the five boroughs of New York City once again come out on top. Orleans County, which has ranked on nearly all the lists so far, had the highest rate of injury and death per VMT.

CountyVMTCrashes 2017FatalitiesSerious InjuryInjury/Death Per 1,000 VMT
Bronx 921100013884384790.0561
Montgomery 1992000109075330.0543
Steuben 33150002021112650.0534
Allegany 117300010042590.052
Tompkins 1967000215520820.0519
Schuyler 5010004445200.0499
Orleans 76400065611260.0485
Niagara 40480003700171710.0464

So Which County is Truly the Worst?

There’s no definitive winner. Orleans, Niagara, and Tompkins counties all seem to have dangerous drivers. Brooklyn and the Bronx don’t fare well either. Ultimately it will depend on what criteria one wishes to use. To that end, the following charts show the NY counties with the most drunk driving accidents, road rage-related accidents, and accidents in which speed is a factor per vehicle miles traveled. As to which county is truly the worst, we’ll let the drivers decide that.

Road Rage Crashes

NY CountyRoad Rage Crashes 2017Road Rage Crashes Per 1,000 VMT
Bronx 1570.017
Queens 2170.0107
Niagara 240.0059
Schenectady 180.0057
Erie 1170.0055
Staten Island300.0051
Fulton 60.0049
Albany 430.0047

Speed-Related Crashes

NY CountySpeed-Related Crashes 2017Speed Crashes Per 1,000 People
Franklin 2580.2155
Allegany 2150.1833
Cortland 2700.1743
Essex 2680.163
Delaware 2490.158
Schoharie 1440.1567
Hamilton 470.1567
Sullivan 3910.1564
Orleans 1140.1492
Otsego 2410.1438

Alcohol-Related Crashes

NY CountyAlcohol-Related Crashes 2017Alcohol-Related Crashes Per 1,000 People
Yates 250.0441
Orleans 310.0406
Niagara 1600.0395
Schuyler 190.0379
Cortland 510.0329
Cayuga 660.0325
Allegany 380.0324
Oswego 980.0323
Bronx 2930.0318