Believe it or not, new study says Utah is nation’s best place to drive

(Chris Detrick | Tribune file photo) Traffic on U.S. 89 in Davis County near 1400 North on, Aug. 24, 2017.

Utah drivers may never believe it, but a new study says the Beehive State is the best place in the nation to drive.

“Utah earned the recognition as the best state for driving this year due to the state’s low crash-related fatalities and excellent road conditions, as well as lower-than-average congestion, uninsured drivers, and auto insurance costs,” says the study released Wednesday by CarInsurance.com.

“Utah is a perennial top state for driving, having finished sixth in last year’s report,” it adds.

Minnesota, last year’s winner, finished a close second.

The study said the deciding difference between the two was better road conditions in Utah. “Only one-quarter of Utah’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition. That’s compared to slightly more than half of Minnesota’s.”

The study used eight criteria for its rankings: insurance costs, traffic fatalities, traffic congestion, gasoline prices, percentage of motorists who are uninsured, road conditions, extra costs created by damage from poor roads and the average cost of car repairs.

The study found that no one state aced or failed every metric. Instead, states often performed well in one category and came in near the bottom in another.

For example, Utah ranked No. 4 for road conditions; No. 6 lowest for traffic death rates; No. 7 for extra costs from damage by poor roads; No. 13 for uninsured drivers; No. 16 for state car insurance rates; No. 17 for congestion; No. 35 for car repair costs; and No. 37 for gasoline prices.

The study said the worst state in the nation for driving is California. “Gas prices, road conditions, and congestion make California the worst state to drive,” it said.

Other studies through the years have given wildly varying grades to Utah and its drivers.

In 2017, Utah drivers were ranked third worst in the nation in a study by QuoteWizard, a website for comparing car insurance. That actually was an improvement because the previous year, it ranked Utah drivers as the nation’s worst.

That study looked at such things as car crashes, traffic tickets and drunken driving.

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

Last year, the annual Best Drivers Report by Allstate Insurance ranked Salt Lake City drivers as No. 48 among the top 200 largest cities.

Michelle Megna, editorial director at CarInsurance.com, said it released its new report to inform people as they plan summer road trips.

“With this report, drivers can factor into their plans driving conditions across the country, so they can avoid costly bumps in the road when it comes to things such as rising gas prices, poor road conditions, traffic congestion and more,” she said.