Best States for Teen Drivers Ranking Methodology

How U.S. News did the Best States for Teen Drivers rankings

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5. Motorcycle helmet laws. This variable is based on ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This factor counts for 2.5 percent of a state's ranking. A rating of Excellent means the state laws require that all motorcycle riders must wear helmets. A rating of Failing means either that there are no helmet use laws in the state or that those laws require that only some riders wear helmets.

6. Safety-belt use laws. This variable is based on ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The factor counts for 2.5 percent of a state's ranking. A rating of Excellent means the state's safety-belt laws allow primary enforcement (police may stop and ticket motorists for belt violations alone); fines and/or license points are imposed for violations; and the laws apply to occupants in rear as well as front seats. A rating of Satisfactory means the state's laws allow primary enforcement but do not require belt use in rear seats. A rating of Inadequate means the state's laws allow only secondary enforcement (police must stop motorists for another violation before enforcing belt laws). A rating of Failing means the state either has no belt use laws or that the laws do not impose any fine or license points.

7. DUI/DWI laws. This variable is based on ratings from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The factor counts for 10 percent of a state's ranking. There are four types of laws pertaining to DUI/DWI: ignition interlock device laws, which mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of all drunk driving offenders; child endangerment laws, which create a separate offense or enhance an existing penalty for an impaired-driving offender who endangers a minor; mandatory blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, testing laws for drivers, which require any driver who is involved in a crash in which there is a fatality to have his or her BAC tested; and open container laws, which prohibit open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.

A rating of Excellent means the state has either all four optimal impaired-driving laws or three laws, of which one is an optimal ignition interlock law. A rating of Insufficient means the state has at least three optimal impaired-driving laws without the optimal ignition interlock law provisions. A rating of Failing means the state has fewer than three optimal impaired-driving laws without an optimal ignition interlock law provision. I

8. Distracted-driving/texting-while-driving laws. This variable is based on ratings from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. This factor counts for 10 percent of a state's ranking. A rating of Excellent means the state has laws prohibiting all drivers from entering, reading, or otherwise retrieving data from any hand-held or electronic data communication device, except in the case of an emergency. A rating of Failing means the state does not have a 100 percent restrictive law.

9. Red light and speeding camera laws. This variable is based on ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This factor counts for 5 percent of a state's ranking. This variable examines the state's use of automated technology to enforce traffic safety laws for speeding and running red lights. A rating of Excellent means the state's laws grant specific statewide authority for camera enforcement. A rating of Satisfactory means there is some operational camera enforcement but without specific state authority. A rating of Inadequate means the state's laws restrict authority for camera enforcement to specific communities only. A rating of Failing means the state has no law that grants authority for camera enforcement and no operational camera enforcement.

10. Percent of roads rated good/very good. This variable is based on data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Innovative Technology Administration. The factor counts for 5 percent of a state's rankings. Road condition ratings are derived from the International Roughness Index and the Present Serviceability Rating. Ratings of good and very good represent smoother roadways. States with higher percentages of roads that were rated good and very good scored higher than states with lower percentages. The road conditions rating data are from 2007.