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Drunk driving lands North Dakota on worst drivers list

North Dakota’s drunk drivers have landed the state on a list for worst drivers, though numbers from the state’s Highway Patrol say alcohol-related deaths because of vehicle crashes are on the decline.

The Peace Garden State took fourth on a list of worst drivers by state published recently published by carinsurancecomparison.com. That’s up from seventh place last year. North Dakota ranked No. 10 in 2014.

North Dakota was beaten by Texas and Louisiana, as well as third-place South Carolina. Following North Dakota is Delaware, New Mexico, Nevada, Alabama, Arizona and Montana.

The website used several factors to determine its ranks, including fatality rate, failure to obey traffic laws, drunk driving, speeding and careless driving.

North Dakota’s best score was in careless driving, where it placed 20th, but the state is the worst for drunk driving, according to the study. The website says 66 deaths were caused by drunk driving last year, though a report from the North Dakota Highway Patrol places that figure at 54, a decrease from the 2014 number of 63.

Total vehicle deaths related to alcohol has been on the decline since 2012 when the death toll hit 87, according to the Highway Patrol.

Percentages of alcohol deaths compared with total vehicle fatalities also have seen a steady decline. Fatal crashes have declined from 53 in 2014 to 48 last year, according to the Highway Patrol. That places the fatal crashes rate compared with total fatal crashes at 43 percent, below the 10 year average of 47 percent.

Drunk driving arrests to date also have dropped off, from 2,626 last year to 1,086 this year.

Other lists have placed North Dakota on the opposite spectrum for a ranking of drivers by skills, including SmartAsset, which ranked the state fifth for best drivers, according to an August report in Time. North Dakota has previously made lists for drunk driving.

Still, the author of carinsurancecomparison.com’s article says drunk driving is “a serious problem that drivers in the state need to recognize and address.”

“The fact that North Dakota placed sixth in speeding only adds fuel to the fire,” the article said. “Individuals who are drinking and driving over the speed limit are far more likely to cause fatal accidents than those who are following the law.”

Minnesota has the best drivers in the country, according to the website, with its best score for careless driving (51st) and its worst score for speeding (23rd).

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.   
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