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A preliminary analysis of traffic crashes by out-of-state drivers

In: Traffic Injury Prevention. Vol. 12, no. 3 (2011), p. 220-222.

Authors: Michael Sivak, Brandon Schoettle.

Objective: This study was designed to investigate the relationship between the involvement of out-of-state drivers in fatal crashes and each US state-s fatality rate per distance driven. Method: Two analyses were performed. In the first analysis, we examined the percentages of out-of-state drivers among those involved in fatal crashes using the data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In the second analysis, we correlated these percentages with the states- fatality rates per distance driven. Both analyses used the data for 2008. Results: There are two main findings of this study. First, there is wide variability across the 50 states in the percentage of all drivers involved in fatal crashes who were out-of-state drivers, with a minimum of 5.0 percent in California and a maximum of 41.2 percent in Wyoming. Second, there is a positive correlation between this percentage and the corresponding fatality rate per distance driven. Conclusions: There are two main findings. First, states vary greatly in terms of the involvement of out-of-state drivers in fatal crashes. Second, the states with higher fatality rates tend to have higher percentages of out-of-state drivers among the persons involved in fatal crashes. However, whether this relationship is causative (ie, the extent of the involvement of out-of-state drivers among the persons involved in fatal crashes influences the states- overall fatality rates) or noncausative (eg, there is more out-of-state traffic in states with higher fatality rates) cannot be ascertained from the available data. The missing data concern the relative distance driven in each state by out-of-state drivers.