Driving is extremely complex. There are many different pieces and components related to road safety, road behavior, and the vehicles themselves that inhabit the roads. With such a diverse activity, it would stand to reason that each state would have varying interests in different car-related and car safety topics. The attorneys at Patterson Law Group decided to do a little digging to find out exactly what drivers are searching in each state. We compiled over 100 topics related to driving and road safety and ran them through Google Trends to find searches that each state Googled the most. The results can be found below.
Alabama – Police car accident
Are police more likely to be involved in car accidents in Alabama? We believe the context of the search has less to do with an accident with the police and more to do with police involvement in a car accident (possibly looking for information on filing a police report).
Alaska – Dash cam
Dash cams can be incredibly useful in the event of an accident. Dash cam footage can help back up your statements on what happened in an accident and may even be used to track down a driver in a hit and run incident. Alaskans could be interested in dash cams from a safety perspective, but they could also be interested in simply recording scenic drives.
There are a number of dash cam recordings on YouTube featuring scenic drives throughout the state. Regardless of the motivation, we highly recommend the use of a dash cam.
Arizona – Tire blowout
It’s no surprise that tire blowout was more commonly searched in one of the warmest states in the US. Summer days in Arizona can hover in the 100°-105° range. When temperatures climb to such levels for an extended period of time, the temperature of the roads can become far hotter than the temperature of the air. High-speed driving, excessive braking, and cornering can all heat tires up to a point where blowout is more likely to occur.
Tire blowouts are dangerous for any driver, but they are an even greater cause for concern for trucks. A truck tire blowout can cause the truck to rollover, which can lead to serious and fatal injuries for drivers in the vicinity. Drivers should routinely monitor tire pressure to prevent a blowout from occurring.
Arkansas – Baby car seat
Children are far more susceptible to injury and death in the event of an accident. Car seats can significantly help to improve car safety for children. Regardless of whether the search for a baby car seat is transactional or informational, we approve of the search for its relation to car safety. A proper car seat can do amazing things.
California – Illegal driving license
Why are searches for illegal driving licenses so popular in California? It could have to do with the California AB-60 Driver’s License. California law allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a license with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Confusion could surround what is and is not considered an “illegal license.” It’s possible that some of the searches could also relate to minors with fake licenses.
Colorado – Rollover accident
A 2017 study found the Subaru Outback to be the most popular vehicle in Colorado. As an SUV, this could partly explain why Colorado led the way in searches for rollover accidents. SUVs are more likely to rollover than traditional cars. Rollovers have a higher fatality rate than other forms of vehicle collisions.
Connecticut – Teen driving
There is a lot of interest surrounding teen driving in Connecticut and for good reason. As new drivers, teens face a greater risk of ending up in an accident. Teens are also more likely to fall victim to distracted driving. In 2008, Connecticut hammered down on teen driving with strict rules that included a two hour safety course for parents and their new drivers. In the past three years alone, the laws have contributed to a 40% decline in teen-related crashes.
Delaware – Tractor trailer accident
Delaware leads the nation in searches for tractor trailer accident terms. However, Delaware is not a leading state in truck accident occurrences, nor has it been ranked one of the most dangerous states for truckers. The lead in searches could have more to do with the use of the term ‘tractor trailer’ in place of ‘truck’ or ‘18-wheeler’.
District of Columbia – Bike lanes
The District of Columbia is an extremely bike friendly city. In fact, just this year Washington D.C. became the first major city on the East Coast to be awarded gold status as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. There have been large investments in bike infrastructure, including new bike lanes and wider trails that could account for the search volume surrounding bike lanes in the area.
Florida – Driving while high
Initially, we expected this query to go to Colorado. As we conducted more research, Florida started to make sense. Colorado has roughly 88,946 registered medical marijuana patients. On the other hand, Florida has over 100,000. This year, lawmakers also rolled out a $5 million ad campaign against driving while high with the tagline, “Drive Baked, Get Busted”. The state has only just started tracking marijuana-related DUI citations, which previously were lumped in with alcohol and other types of drugs. More time will be needed to glean information on just how much of a problem driving while high is for the Sunshine State.
Georgia – Driving without insurance
Georgia, we don’t know why you’re Googling what you are, but don’t drive without insurance. The law requires that all drivers have auto insurance coverage for their vehicle. If you are caught driving without insurance, the Georgia Department of Revenue is required to suspend or revoke the registration of your vehicle.
In addition to driving without a license, Georgia also had the most searches for speeding. Speed limits are set for a reason and speeding increases the risk of an accident. Georgians are highly encouraged to follow the speed limit.
Hawaii – Lifted truck
Searches for lifted trucks seem to be more popular in Hawaii than any other state. Statistically speaking, you’re much safer in the event of an accident when riding in a lifted truck. However, lifted trucks are at greater risk for a rollover accident than normal vehicles and there is a larger range for blind spots. Lifted trucks also increase parking lot hazards where a small child or elderly citizen may not be seen walking.
Idaho – Night driving
Driving at night is an entirely different beast than driving during the day. Under low-light conditions visibility is reduced, which can lead to an increased risk of accidents. Drunk driving is also more common at night, which creates an additional risk for drivers. It’s not entirely clear why Idaho has been searching for night driving related queries, but we’d like to hope they’re educating themselves on safety precautions and tips for night driving to avoid an accident.
Illinois – SUV accident
A 2017 study found the Honda CR-V to be the most popular vehicle in Illinois, which could explain why Illinois took the lead in searches on SUV accidents. SUVs can be great vehicles, but they are more likely to rollover in comparison to traditional cars.
Indiana – Deer in road
Indiana certainly isn’t alone in having a deer population problem. Many midwestern states suffer from an overabundance of deer. It would seem Indiana may be more concerned about the deer being in their roads though (at least in terms of Google searches). A report from the Indiana DNR in 2017 revealed the counties where deer crashes occurred the most. Kosciusko (405 crashes), Allen (401), Steuben (374), Porter (323) and Noble (320) ranked in the top 5.
Iowa – Bad insurance
Insurance companies are difficult to deal with no matter where you are across the country. Many expect insurance companies to have their best interests at heart, but the for-profit companies are often more focused on helping increase their bottom line. The searches for bad insurance in Iowa may suggest residents either aren’t happy with their providers or are conducting research to avoid a bad company. Searches for bad insurance may also relate to bad faith insurance, which refers to a provider’s attempt to shirk an obligation to clients.
Kansas – Hydroplaning
Kansas receives an average of 28.9 inches in precipitation on an annual basis. This amount isn’t necessarily higher than other states. In fact, Kansas ranks 35th in terms of the states with the largest amount of annual precipitation. Searches for hydroplaning could be related to an accident occurrence or an attempt to gain information for accident prevention. Slowing down when roads are wet and avoiding standing water can help prevent hydroplaning.
Kentucky – Bus stop accident
Bus stop accidents have recently received a lot of national attention after a string of bus stop accidents occurred across the country in October. Larger cities such as Louisville and Lexington have public buses through Lextran and TARC. Cities across the state also have school bus stops for children. It could be that the bus stop accident trends have triggered an interest in Kentucky residents.
Louisiana – Road closure
Road closures can create tremendous headaches for drivers. Being thrown off routine and trying to redirect can add stress and cloud the mind, which never bodes well for safe driving. Aside from construction, the state will close roads due to weather conditions if there are icy or wet road conditions. More data would be needed to determine just how frequently Louisiana road closures occur.
Maine – Fatal car accident
Maine is far from the being the state with the highest rate of car accident fatalities. In fact, Maine sits in the middle at number 28 with 12.94 road accident fatalities for every 100,000 residents. In 2014, fatalities hit a 70 year low that hadn’t been seen since 1944. Fatalities have since started rising again. The motivation for searches surrounding the query isn’t clear, but could be related to trends in fatalities or specific accidents.
Maryland – Tree in road
Of the more than 3,100 counties in Maryland, only 29 are considered urban. Many Maryland roads are lined with trees, which can slow down traffic and wreak havoc for drivers when they fall. Falling trees are especially dangerous when they bring a power line with them. Whether or not Maryland has more downed trees than other states requires more research, but the topic is certainly an interest for residents.
Massachusetts – Dooring
Dooring is a type of bike accident that occurs when a bicycle rider slams into an open car door. Biking is a popular option for transportation in larger cities such as Boston and Worcester. A study conducted by the City of Boston found that dooring accidents accounted for 7-13% of all bicycle accidents between 2009 and 2012. Massachusetts actually has a dooring law which prevents motorists from opening a car door unless they know it’s reasonably safe to do. Searches for dooring could be surrounding specific accidents or the law itself.
Michigan – Automated driving
Naturally, the home of the Motor City would be interested in advances in car technology. Automated driving is likely a hot topic for a number of reasons. There are safety concerns with automated driving and opinions are polarized as to whether or not automated cars would make the roads less dangerous or more dangerous. Workers in the auto industry are undoubtedly also very interested in following industry trends. The city of Ann Arbor is home to Mcity, which has become a testing ground for automated vehicles.
Minnesota – Road construction
Additional research would be needed to determine just how extensive road construction is in Minnesota compared to the rest of the country. The state has made critical investments in the aging road infrastructure and has been working on 253 different projects this year. Road improvement is unarguably a good thing, but construction can increase the risk of accidents as we’ve seen here in Fort Worth with the construction on I-35.
Mississippi – Drag racing
Drag racing on public roads is illegal in Mississippi, but there are tracks throughout the state such as Hub City Dragway and Holly Springs Motorsports that racers can legally compete on. There is clearly a decent level of interest surrounding the sport. As long as the interest does not lie in street racing, there is no cause for concern.
Missouri – Bad roads
Missouri doesn’t make the list of the top 10 states with the worst roads, but Missouri residents may beg to differ. A report released in October found that bad roads can cost the average driver in Kansas City close to $2,000 a year. Legislators have proposed a gas tax to fund operations to fix and maintain bad roads.
Montana – Grill guard
A study conducted by State Farm in 2016 found that Montana ranked 2nd in the nation for wildlife vs. car collisions. For years, the state has been struggling with keeping wildlife off of roads. The state has been working on building wildlife underpasses and overpasses to route animal traffic off of the roads. In the meantime, drivers may be taking their own safety precautions in searching for grill guards.
Grill guards are a sturdy metal structure attached to the front of a vehicle that can reduce the impact from a front-end collision. Grill guards protect both the vehicle and the passenger in the event of a wildlife collision. If you live in Montana, adding a grill guard to your vehicle is not a bad idea.
Nebraska – Railroad crossing
Nebraska is a busy state for trains traveling to Chicago or the West Coast. The state’s rail network consists of roughly 3,400 miles of train rails. Areas where tracks intersect with roads can be very dangerous for drivers. Accidents can occur when a driver tries to beat the crossing guards, the car stalls on the tracks, the crossing guards fail to initiate, or the train derails.
There are plenty of reasons Nebraskans could be searching railroad crossing related queries. One reason could be the problems train infrastructure causes for road traffic. In some areas, drivers have to wait up to an hour to be able to cross a railroad crossing. Long wait times could increase the likelihood that a driver will try to race the guard to beat the wait. Drivers should remain cautious when approaching railroad crossings.
Nevada – Roadkill
Why is Nevada searching for roadkill? Like neighboring states, Nevada drivers have had many run-ins with animals on the road. Accidents with bears have increased in the Lake Tahoe area since 1990. Searches could also be geared towards the laws surrounding road kill. Neighboring states such as Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Arizona have laws allowing roadkill to be eaten in certain circumstances, while Nevada does not. You can face poaching charges if you try to salvage roadkill in Nevada.
New Hampshire – Rolling coal
Rolling coal is the practice of modifying a diesel engine so that large, black, sooty clouds emit from the exhaust. The production of rolling coal requires larger amounts of fuel intake, which isn’t exactly environmentally friendly. The thick black exhaust can reduce visibility for drivers following behind a diesel truck and presents a serious danger out on the roads. Below is a video from Drive New Hampshire of a local truck emitting rolling coal.
The EPA has deemed the practice illegal. Colorado, New Jersey, and Illinois have also created state laws banning rolling coal. New Hampshire does not have its own state law, but the state may want to consider creating a law if the interest in rolling coal is as strong as the Google searches for the term within the state suggest.
New Jersey – Flat tire
If you live in New Jersey and you don’t drive with a spare tire, the search volume for flat tires indicates that you may want to get one. Flat tires can lead to serious accidents and injuries when the loss of all air pressure causes a driver to lose control. Drivers should routinely check their tire pressure to reduce the probability of a flat tire.
New Mexico – Low rider
Low riders are extremely popular in New Mexico. In fact, some have dubbed New Mexico the low rider capital of the world, which explains the higher search volume. Low riders are perfectly legal, but there can be danger involved depending on how low the vehicle is. Low riders can scrape with speed bumps and potholes are an even greater concern. Being so low to the ground also presents a greater danger for passengers when a low rider collides with a larger vehicle.
New York – Rental car accident
It comes as no surprise that New York ranks first in searches for rental car accidents. New York City is one of the biggest travel destinations in the country for both business and pleasure. The Big Apple recently hit a new record with a whopping 62.8 million visitors last year. Moreover, owning a car in the urban parts of New York can be extremely expensive. Residents may be enticed to rent instead of own for traveling outside of the city. Between tourists and residents, rental cars are likely very popular and accidents appear to be quite a concern. If you’re renting a car in New York, you may want to purchase the extra insurance.
North Carolina – Flooded roads
With Hurricane Florence hitting this year, it makes sense that flooded roads were a popular Google in North Carolina. The state was hit hard in mid September and many roads (including parts of I-95 and I-40) remained treacherous into October.
North Dakota – Dead car battery
North Dakota winters can be brutal and are often rivaled in the US only by Alaska and Minnesota. It’s not uncommon for winter days to reach -25° (possibly closer to -40° with the wind chill). Extreme temperatures (hot and cold) have the ability to drain a car battery faster, which could explain the search interest in dead car batteries.
Ohio – Brake failure
Why is Ohio searching for brake failure? Brake failure can happen unexpectedly, but it’s more common for brake failure to occur when a vehicle hasn’t been properly maintained. Are Ohioans experiencing brake failure at a higher rate than the national average? Are Ohioans neglecting vehicle maintenance? More research would be needed to answer these questions.
Oklahoma – Car shooting
Unfortunately, Oklahoma ranks as one of the top 20 states for gun deaths. The state has fairly unrestrictive gun laws and no permit is required to purchase a gun. It would make sense that car shootings would be a hot topic for the state. Road rage-related shooting accidents also seem to be a problem in Oklahoma.
In 2017, a road rage incident went viral when a brawl erupted and shotgun shots were fired. The incident isn’t isolated.
Oregon – Lane splitting
Lane splitting is a hot topic in Oregon. The law in Oregon is currently very clear that passing a vehicle while riding in the same lane is illegal. A bill was introduced in January of 2017 that would have legalized lane splitting, but the bill failed to make it to the senate floor. It may be reintroduced in 2019, but public opinion is greatly divided on lane splitting. Some say it surprises drivers to have a motorcycle passing from the side and leads to accidents, while others believe it would reduce accident injuries and fatalities for bikers.
It’s worth noting that Oregon also ranked first for searches on radar detectors and street racing. Portland does have a strong illegal street racing scene. Four people have been killed in Portland street racing-related incidents in the past three years and many more have been injured. Keep it legal Portland and obey the speed limit.
Pennsylvania – Running a red light
Why is Pennsylvania searching about running a red light? It could be because the state has a law that allows drivers to run them under certain circumstances. In 2016 a law was passed that gives motorists the right to run a red light if the light has a malfunctioning censor that fails to turn the light green.
Rhode Island – Sideswipe accidents
Sideswipe accidents can be extremely dangerous, because cars offer far less protection on the sides than in the front or rear. The interest in the query could be in relation to specific accidents or general statistics. Sideswipe accidents are a very common type of accident.
South Carolina – Car rear-ended
According to the NHTSA, rear-end collisions account for approximately one third of all accidents nationwide. A study conducted by carinsurancecomparison.com found South Carolina drivers to be the sixth worst in the nation (previously the third), citing speeding and careless driving as part of the reasoning. Both speeding and careless driving are common causes of rear-end accidents. That may not necessarily mean South Carolina has more rear-end accidents than any other state, but it could warrant the interest in the query.
South Dakota – Black ice
South Dakota ranks as one of the coldest states in the US, which would explain why there is a larger search interest in black ice. Black ice can cause accidents when a vehicle loses traction and begins to slide. Black ice is especially dangerous, because it can be difficult to spot. If you hit black ice, you should avoid overreacting. Do not slam your brakes and try to keep the wheel straight.
Tennessee – Seat belt laws
The state of Tennessee apparently takes great concern when it comes to seat belt safety. Tennessee had more searches for seat belt laws than any other state. Seat belts have been shown to reduce the risk of injury by roughly 50% and the risk of death by 45%. Understanding and adhering to seat belt laws is extremely important.
Texas – Driving without a license
Texas, you may be breaking the law or considering breaking the law. Texas had the most searches for driving without a license. A person found to be driving without a license in Texas can face fines of up to $200 for a first time offense. More research would be needed to determine if Texas has more offenses for driving without a license than any other state.
Benson Varghese, a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney, said hundreds of driver’s licenses are suspended each year because motorists refuse to take or fail a breath or blood test after being arrested for a DWI or drug charge.
“A driver’s license suspension is a collateral consequence that can stem from a DWI arrest or conviction,” Varghese said. “If you’re stopped on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and refuse to give a breath or blood specimen, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days. If you blow or give blood and then fail, your license will be suspended for 90 days. We receive calls daily from individuals who have been arrested for DWI and need an occupational license so they can legally drive to and from work. I’m not surprised Texans are googling ‘driving without a license.’”
As for the civil side of the law, it’s important to know the consequences of lending your car to an unlicensed driver. “If you let an unlicensed driver borrow your car and that person causes a car accident, you will likely be liable for the damages caused because of negligence per se laws in Texas,” says Fort Worth personal injury attorney Travis Patterson.
Utah – Drowsy driving
Drowsy driving is more likely to occur on long stretches of road where the driver may not have as many turns to make or road signs and signals to adhere to. Utah has a lot of rural counties with long stretches of road where drowsy driving accidents are more likely to occur. In fact, crashes in rural counties of Utah were 2.3 times more likely to involve drowsy driving. While Utah residents may have more interest in searching drowsy driving related queries on Google, Texas actually leads the nation in drowsy driving fatalities.
Vermont – Potholes
Are Vermont’s roads more pothole ridden than other states or are residents just more concerned about potholes? Vermont historically hasn’t ranked in the top 10 as a state with the worst roads. However, Vermont is one of the coldest states in the country and the expansion of freezing water creates potholes. Potholes are certainly an issue that the state deals with regularly.
Virginia – Moped accident
We were unable to find data on the number of registered mopeds in Virginia, but there were a total of 396 moped crashes in 2017 resulting in 377 injuries and 8 deaths. Virginia Beach is a particularly dangerous area for motorcycle and moped riders. Moped accidents can be devastating for riders who don’t have as much protection as a driver in a car or truck, and too many people drive mopeds without helmets.
Washington – Eating and driving
While texting and driving dominates the conversation surrounding distracted driving, eating and driving has its risks as well. Food can cause us to take our eyes off of the road or our hands off of the wheel, which of course are always bad ideas.
West Virginia – Truck fire
In investigating why West Virginia has been searching for truck fires, we found a number of recent truck fire accidents, including:
- A truck fire closes northbound I-77
- A truck carrying hurricane donations catches fire on the West Virginia Turnpike
- A truck catches fire on I-77 as the result of a brake problem
- A truck carrying plastics ignites on I-77
Is West Virginia a haven for truck fires or is there simply more interest in them among residents compared to other states? More research would be required to answer that question.
Wisconsin – Drunk driving
Wisconsin may be known for its cheese, but Wisconsinites also love their beer. In fact, Wisconsin ranks as the fifth largest state for beer consumption with around 147.1 million gallons consumed each year. Fortunately, alcohol-related crashes have been generally on the decline in the state since 1979. The search volume for drunk driving could indicate an interest in the laws and statistics.
Wyoming – Texting and driving
Wyoming, put down your phones. There are a number of reasons residents could be searching for texting and driving. The intent of searches could be to know the laws, research local statistics, or to find out just how bad the habit really is. Texting while driving is currently a misdemeanor in Wyoming and is punishable by a fine of up to $75. Wyoming actually ranks as one of the deadliest states for car crashes in the nation. Wyoming also has some of the worst enforcement of distracted driving laws, with less than 100 tickets issued since the ban on texting was passed.
Interestingly, Wyoming also had the most searches for “hit and run.” Are drivers causing accidents due to phone distraction and then driving away? More research will be needed to determine that.