SALEM, Ore. — In many places across the United States, driving a car is practically a necessary evil in order to bridge the gap between home, work, and everywhere else — but it's a practice that comes with its attendant costs and hazards, including traffic, road conditions, and the price of gas or car maintenance.
But if you're going to be driving anywhere consistently, Oregon is the best state in the country to do it, according to a new study published by online economics resource WalletHub.
"To identify the states with the most positive driving experiences, WalletHub compared all 50 states across 30 key indicators of a positive commute. Our data set ranges from average gas prices to share of rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality," the site said.
Oregon didn't actually top the list in most categories — with the exception of ranking #1 for lowest auto maintenance costs. For overall cost of ownership and maintenance, Oregon ranked #22. For traffic and infrastructure, it ranked #11. For safety, it came in at #15. However, for a weighted score combining all of the categories, Oregon beat out all 49 contenders.
By comparison, Oregon's West Coast neighbors in Washington and California stacked up rather poorly. California came in at #47, with Washington falling just below at #48. Both states were dragged down, in large part, by the high cost of ownership and maintenance — not to mention low marks for traffic and infrastructure.
In spite of poor overall performance, California got top marks for safety and access to vehicles and maintenance.
Although the U.S. has a reputation as a country of drivers, the World Economics Forum recently ranked the country at #10 in the world for road quality. The country also contains 10 out of the world's 25-worst cities for traffic, according to another study.