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Why Colorado Is One of the Worst States for Drivers

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Good news for everyone who regularly bitches that Colorado is a terrible state for drivers: Now there's evidence to back you up.

A new report from Bank Rate ranks Colorado the eighth-worst state in the country for drivers. And according to data analyst Adrian Garcia, who authored the piece, the reasons mostly have to do with unimpressive scores in the main three metrics used by the site.

"The problem with Colorado," Garcia says, "is that costs are high, driving quality is only fair, and it's not as safe as it could be."

The complete roster is below, along with source references and a description of the methodology used to determine how the states were ordered. But Garcia provides specific details about what led to Colorado's lousy finish.

"We looked at seven factors related to cost, driving quality and safety," he explains. "For cost, we looked at insurance premiums, the cost for repairs and maintenance and gas prices. For driving quality, we looked at commute times and road conditions. And for safety, we looked at two data sets from the federal government — the fatality rate and the theft rate."

In a handful of categories, Colorado's scores were actually higher than the national average, though not by much. The fatality rate in the state, based on 2016 data, came in at 1.17 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, as compared to 1.18 nationally. The average price for a gallon of gas circa 2017 was $2.35, a skosh less than the countrywide figure, $2.39. And while drivers who live in Denver may have a hard time believing it, the average commute time in Colorado, 25 minutes, is a full sixty seconds less than the equivalent national number, 26 minutes.

That's where the good news ends.

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Nationally, 22 percent of roads are considered to be in poor condition, Garcia points out. In Colorado, it's 24 percent — and with the failures of Proposition 109, aka Fix Our Damn Roads, and Proposition 110, known as Let's Go Colorado, the prospects for piles of cash suddenly materializing to address the issue could hardly be dimmer.

Colorado drivers also pay more to maintain their vehicles. The average annual cost for parts and repair here is $376 versus $365 nationally. And folks here pay a lot more for insurance: $1,547 per annum, nearly $200 more than the $1,365 average for all fifty states. "That's a significant one," Garcia emphasizes.

On top of that, Coloradans are much more likely to have their car stolen than are residents in other parts of the U.S. The national average is 237 thefts per 100,000 residents. In Colorado, it's 390.

How can drivers in our fair state improve their situation without doing something drastic, like moving? Garcia offers some best practices: "You should always shop around for insurance. And you can try to get out from behind the wheel. Use public transportation — and some employers offer benefits like free bus passes. You can also set up carpools that will let you use toll lanes."

In other words, Colorado drivers will be happier, safer and have more money if they stop driving. Continue to see the complete Bank Rate list, sorted from the best states for drivers to the worst — including seven that landed even lower than Colorado.