Where Are the Worst Drivers in New York State?

By: Adam H. Rosenblum Esq. Published: 11/4/19

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 the 2018 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–79%–had human factors. Here’s what was uncovered.

NY Counties with the Most Car Crashes

The counties with the greatest number of accidents correspond closely with the list of counties with the greatest population as well as those with the most vehicle miles traveled, particularly counties within Long Island and NYC. Neighboring counties Queens and Nassau had the most accidents in 2018. Not far away, Brooklyn and Suffolk counties came in third and fourth, respectively, followed by Manhattan and the Bronx.

A more accurate measure for bad driving would be to compare the number of accidents to the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the county. When looked at this way, the picture changes notably. Brooklyn, which has the seventh-most vehicle miles traveled with nearly 14 million, also had the highest rate of automotive accidents: 2.61 per 1,000 VMT. Wyoming County, with the eight-least vehicle miles traveled also had the eighth-most accidents per 1,000 VMT. Long Island’s Nassau County, which had the second-most accidents in 2018 also had the second-most vehicle miles traveled and still came in at No. 5 for most accidents per 1,000 miles. 

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 0.28% across all counties, and no county had a fatality rate of higher than 1%.

When one includes serious injuries in the data, the picture changes again, but not dramatically. Washington, Sullivan, and Greene Counties all rank high on the list of counties with the highest rate of serious injury and death in auto accidents. However, Schoharie County falls off the top-10 list dropping all the way to No. 29. 

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. Brooklyn and Manhattan had the highest rate of injury and death per VMT. Washington County, which had the highest proportion of accidents resulting in injury or death also has the fifth-most serious accidents per 1,000 VMT. 

So Which County is Truly the Worst?

There’s no definitive winner. Washington, Sullivan, Greene and Tompkins counties all seem to have dangerous drivers. Brooklyn, Manhattan 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. 

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