Utah drivers improve! Now they’re only 3rd worst in the nation.

Last year, QuoteWizard rankings had listed them as the nation’s worst.<br>

Courtesy | Utah Highway Patrol A three-car crash on U.S. Highway 40 near Vernal killed one and sent six to the hospital earlier this year.

Utah drivers are the nation’s third worst — and that’s actually a significant improvement, a new study says.

“Our 2016 state study put Utah firmly at number one as the worst drivers in America. This year they’ve managed to jump two spots down to third worst. Much better than first-worst — well done Utah!” said a study by QuoteWizard, a website for comparing car insurance.

It looks at 2 million data points nationally about such things as car crashes, traffic tickets and drunken driving.

This year, it said Utah improved in accidents, speeding, DUIs and traffic citations.

But, as the study says, “the numbers don’t look pretty for Utah.” QuoteWizard said Utah still ranked 13th worst for accidents, 11th worst for speeding and seventh worst for citations.

It noted that traffic deaths in the state increased for four years in a row.

And to drive home that Utahns may not be paying much attention while behind the wheel, it said more than 1,400 injuries came from improper lane changes.

The two states that finished worse than Utah in this year’s rankings were California and Minnesota.

California, the new worst state for driving, was second-worst last year. “An increase in citations and DUIs helped drive the state to the number one spot in terms of bad drivers. In fact, California also set the worst standard in the U.S. for DUIs on our rankings,” the study said.

Minnesota jumped from 11th worst last year to second-worst this year. The study said one reason may be “Minnesota’s brutal weather — including ice, snow storms, and tornados — [that] turns cars into Zambonis.”

For the second year in a row, the study said, the nation’s best drivers are in Rhode Island.

“Propelling this repeat is the state’s top marks for accidents, speeding, citations, and fatalities. Rhode Island’s only blip, interestingly, is the fact that they’re the 13th worst state for DUIs,” the study said.

Car deaths have risen 14 percent nationally since 2015 — and the overall numbers and cost of accidents are increasing, according to the study.

It said two major factors are behind those numbers.

First, “Thanks in part to a strong economy, Americans are driving more miles than ever before. More time spent on the road equals more car accidents.”

The second trend is distracted driving. “An estimated 660,000 people per day use an electronic device while driving, and nearly 3,500 people died from distracted driving in 2015.”

This is not the first study to give Utah low rankings, although some rate it much higher.

A study by Allstate Insurance last year ranked Salt Lake City drivers a mediocre 78th best among the nation’s 200 largest cities for safety. Drivers in West Valley City ranked No. 87.

Insure.com three years ago ranked Utah drivers as the 10th rudest in the nation.

But on the other end of the spectrum, CarInsuranceComparison.com ranked Utahns as the nation’s second-best drivers in 2014, leaning heavily on low fatality and drunken-driving rates then.