National Motorists Association Identifies States that Exploit Drivers the Most

May 2014

The National Motorists Association (NMA) today released an analysis that ranks the states and Washington, D.C. from worst to best based on their treatment of drivers. The motorists’ rights organization used 24 metrics that spanned the categories of legal protections, regulations, enforcement tactics, state-imposed cost to drive, and state fiscal responsibility to examine the government-motorist relationship in each state.

The NMA found the District of Columbia (25 out of 100 total points) to be most exploitative of motorists, followed by New York State, Delaware, New Jersey, and Vermont. The rankings list Wyoming (85 points), North Dakota, Utah, Mississippi, and Montana to be most driver-friendly.

NMA President Gary Biller noted, “Our analysis reveals how fairly a state regulates and enforces traffic laws, how far due process rights extend to motorists in court, how (and how much) revenue is generated from motorists, and how effectively that revenue is applied toward maintaining and improving roads and bridges in the state. It clearly indicates that there is substantial room for improvement across the board.”

The full rankings are available at Motorists Beware: Ranking the States That Treat You Worst.

“With close to 200 million licensed drivers in the U.S., motorists represent perhaps the largest special interest group in the country,” added company spokesperson John Bowman. “They support government by paying billions of dollars annually in the form of state and federal gas taxes along with various other taxes, fees, tolls, and traffic fines. Yet many states reciprocate by treating motorists no better than a revenue source to plug budget gaps rather than as constituents that government is designed to serve and protect.”

The metrics used by the NMA to analyze the performance of each state include:

Legal Protections

1.     Trial by jury available for traffic offenses?

2.     Trial by declaration available?

3.     Traffic offenses tried in a real court with due process instead of special administrative courts?

4.     Right of discovery for traffic-case evidence?

5.     Ownership of vehicle electronic data recorder information defined?


1.     Realistic speed limits?

2.     Secondary or primary seat belt enforcement?

3.     Adult choice for wearing motorcycle helmets?

4.     Restrictions on non-texting, hand-held cell phone use?

5.     Limited license suspension for first-time DUI offenses?

6.     Unreasonable driver responsibility or “super speeder” penalties?

Enforcement Tactics

1.     Extent of speed traps?

2.     Extent of road blocks/checkpoints?

3.     Extent of red-light cameras?

4.     Extent of speed cameras?

5.     Minimal use of federally funded ticket blitzes?

6.     Reasonable volume of traffic tickets issued?

7.     Reasonable work-zone speed limits and penalties?

State-Imposed Cost to Drive

1.     Minimal use of toll roads?

2.     Cost to drive based on revenue generated from tolls, state fuel tax, and vehicle-related surcharges?

3.     Cost of auto insurance?

State Fiscal Responsibility

1.     Degree of legislative involvement in transportation planning?

2.     Degree that highway funds are restricted to road maintenance and construction?

3.     Degree that federal aid is not diverted from highway to transit projects?