The True Cost of Being a Car Owner in America

Owning and driving a car is part of the American way of life. Whether commuting to work or taking a cross-country road trip, Americans spend a lot of time in the driver’s seat. But the cost of hitting the open road comes with some bumps and twists. Take a look at our map below to see the total cost of being a driver in each state.

The map above shows the cost of being a driver in each state. The total cost of being a driver in each state was calculated by adding the average amount of money spent on gasoline per year with the average annual insurance cost. The data were collected by the Oil Information Service and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Based on an average of all 50 states, the national average insurance cost is around $887 per year and the national average gasoline spending is around $1,127 per year, for an average total driver spending cost of $2,014. Total spending is categorized into a range, from red (the highest cost) down to green (the lowest cost). Each state representation also shows the ratio between the cost of gasoline and the cost of insurance as a percentage of the total cost.

Top Five Most Expensive States for Drivers

  • Wyoming - $2,624 per year

  • Louisiana - $2,335 per year

  • North Dakota - $2,251 per year

  • Delaware - $2,247 per year

  • Florida - $2,247 per year

Top Five Least Expensive States for Drivers

  • Illinois - $1,766 per year

  • Iowa - $1,776 per year

  • Ohio - $1,767 per year

  • Virginia - $1,772 per year

  • Idaho - $1,799 per year

The states with the cheapest combination of gas and insurance prices are within just a few dollars of each other. In Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia, drivers pay an average of between $1,766 and $1,772 per year. States that have lower overall costs for drivers tend to have below average insurance and gasoline prices. But there does not appear to be a trend between a state’s overall cost to drivers and the size of the state’s population. For example, North Dakota has one of the highest overall cost to drivers at $2,251, while nearby South Dakota is on the lower end of the spectrum at $1,883.

There is an interesting trend in the states with the highest overall cost to drivers. In the combination of insurance prices and gasoline costs in the most expensive states for drivers, usually only one of these components is above average, while the other is usually below the national average. For example, Wyoming has the highest overall cost to drivers in the entire United States at $2,624 per year. Wyoming’s average annual insurance cost is only $793, well below the national average of $887 per year. But this state’s average gasoline spending per year is $1,831, also the highest in the nation, bringing its overall cost to drivers up significantly. Among the other most expensive states for drivers, some have higher insurance costs than average, but below-average gasoline spending.

States like Illinois, Iowa and Ohio offer below average prices on both insurance and gasoline, giving these states a lower overall cost to drivers. Drivers looking for a cheaper place to live may want to avoid certain states, such as Wyoming, Louisiana and North Dakota. But Americans looking to save on auto insurance and gas costs should study this map closely and consider factors such as fuel efficiency because not all states offer equivalent insurance and gas prices.

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