No driver is perfect, but the fact is that some of those behind the wheel are worse than others. A recent LendingTree study analyzed car insurance quote data to identify which auto brands have the worst drivers.
The review looked at over 30 popular car brands and measured bad driver behavior by the number of incidents per 1,000 drivers. The root of these troubles comes from:
- DUI arrests
- Speeding tickets
- Traffic citations
It’s reasonable to assume that sports cars are closely associated with poor road manners, but the Porsche brand didn’t even crack the top 20.
Keep reading to learn the worst offenders. At the end, we’ll also cover what the safest operators drive—the details will surprise you.
32.90 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Large and fast can be a great combination unless you drive a RAM truck. Drivers of these pickups not only had the highest number of incidents across the country but also racked up bad grades as the second-worst for accidents and DUIs. It doesn’t get any better on a state level.
In Massachusetts, RAM drivers had the highest incident rate nationally, with 64.44 incidents per 1,000 drivers. In fact, RAM drivers ranked the worst in 23 states. The company doesn’t help matters with the RAM TRX, a 702-horsepower supertruck capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in 4.5 seconds.
31.13 incidents per 1,000 drivers
While Tesla drivers behaved better than their RAM counterparts, second place is nothing to brag about in this ranking. To make matters worse, Tesla drivers had the highest number of accidents (23.54 per 1,000 drivers).
In contrast, only 14.96 out of every 1,000 Volvo drivers were involved in fender benders. No wonder a recent MarketWatch report highlights that Tesla insurance premiums are 50% higher than the average vehicle (high repair costs don’t help either).
30.09 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Nipping at the heels of Tesla drivers are those who pilot a Subaru. The Japanese automaker goes to great lengths to tout the safety of its cars; perhaps these drivers need all the help they can get. Subaru drivers have the dubious distinction of ranking third for the most accidents and DUIs. Overconfidence in Subaru’s vaunted all-wheel drive system may contribute to poor driving decisions.
27.92 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Volkswagen loves to highlight its German-engineered cars, but this feature doesn’t help the automaker’s customers, who have the fourth-worst driving record nationally. The data is less encouraging in some states. In Alaska and Idaho, Volkswagen drivers topped the rankings for incidents by brand. Although Oktoberfest is a German tradition, this ritual doesn’t rub off too much on VW drivers, who rank tenth among DUI rates. At least some Volkswagen Golf GTI owners are leaving their cars at home.
27.74 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Drivers who are proud of their “zoom-zoom” Mazdas may want to focus on behind-the-wheel behavior. Rounding out the top five also includes having the fourth-highest accident rate (18.55 per 1,000) of any brand, something to consider if you’re driving a diminutive Mazda MX5 Miata.
Mazda pilots are also known for misbehaving in the nation’s capital due to the highest overall incident rate (52.08 per 1,000 drivers) in Washington, DC.
26.82 incidents per 1,000 drivers
The study shows that BMW drivers enjoy a good time; unfortunately, they like doing so behind the wheel. BMW blew away the competition when it came to DUI rates; its drivers had 3.13 DUIs per 1,000, nearly double that of second-place Ram. The states with the worst overall BMW driver behavior – Alabama, Colorado, and Iowa—suggest that open roads, not congested urban areas, are where bad things happen.
26.73 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Lexus and BMW constantly battle for luxury sales supremacy in the U.S. But this time, Lexus will have to take a back seat (just barely) regarding driver incidents. Still, owning an upscale, refined automobile doesn’t always translate into genteel on-road behavior. Lexus drivers ranked fifth for accidents (18.35 per 1,000 drivers) and got top dishonors (48.58 per 1,000) in North Dakota for the most overall incidents.
26.72 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Infiniti sales are a fraction of Lexus’s business, but the lack of success doesn’t hold back Infiniti drivers from almost beating their Lexus peers, just not in a good way. These activities are at their worst in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont, where Infiniti drivers led all brands in overall incidents. Perhaps 400-horsepower Infiniti Q50 Red Sports are to blame, but the automaker sells SUVs (like the QX50 and QX60) these days.
25.47 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Over the years, Korean automaker Hyundai has sold everything from cheap economy cars to family SUVs to over-the-top luxury sedans. This varied lineup attracts a range of driver types with enough poor habits to give this brand unfortunate top-ten status. At least the company’s customers don’t have the distinction of being at the top of the specific bad behavior categories (accidents or DUIs).
25.13 incidents per 1,000 drivers
People buy Toyotas to be practical and responsible, but these consumers appear to leave their good senses at home. Drivers of cars from the world’s largest automaker complete this dubious list.
Car Brands with the Safest Drivers
#1 Mercury: 15.82 incidents per 1,000 drivers
#2 Pontiac: 16.24 incidents per 1,000 drivers
#3 Saturn: 16.84 incidents per 1,000 drivers
Automotive studies have a way of producing head-scratching results, and this report is no different. The data show that Mercury, Pontiac, and Saturn cars have the best drivers. These brands haven’t seen an assembly line in over a decade—Ford killed Mercury in 2011, and General Motors axed Pontiac and Saturn in 2009.
Chances are these cars are still on the road due to more responsible driving. For example, Mercury drivers have an overall incident rate of less than half that of RAM drivers. Further, these orphaned brands are the only ones with fewer than 10.0 accidents per 1,000 drivers. Meanwhile, Mercury (and Kia) drivers had the lowest DUI rates.
Seeing these results brings up visions of elderly or overly cautious individuals behind the wheel of Mercurys, Pontiacs, and Saturns. Regardless, these drivers likely enjoy favorable insurance rates thanks to good behavior and solid road manners.