Let’s face it: for those of us who aren’t Randy Pobst, driving is a miserable, festering chore we only accomplish because humanity hasn’t collectively devised a more efficient means of zero-point-energy-based personal transportation. We get mired in achingly random traffic jams. Dead dinosaurs turn our cash into pollution. Cars break down, crash into each other, and are generally piloted by selfish, knuckle-dragging halfwits who freeze in contemplation like a Tandy 486 when beset with a task as simple as navigating a circular tiller around a “NO LEFT TURN” sign. And as a result, the entire insurance industry—which in itself is an absurd gamble to begin with; we pay protection money to save us from ourselves?—collectively deems our species a handful of blubbering, accident-prone ninnies, and fleece us with exploded rates if we so much as trip over a doorsill. Even Pobst gets stuck in traffic jams, especially in the Laguna Seca infield. If we could all live hermit-like in Mongolian yurts, then sign me up and I’ll set mine up in the Whole Foods parking lot.
In that regard, the insurance quote website Carinsurance.com came up with the “Automotive Misery Index.” The Automotive Misery Index is a ranking of how much it sucks to drive a car in a certain state. Using a 2012 Honda Accord as a benchmark, with an mpg rating of 23/34 city and highway, it factors in the cost of insurance, gasoline prices, average mileage traveled by state, and average incomes per household to determine the goal that’s on everybody’s minds come payday: how much does it cost to drive, really?
“A new Honda Accord costs pretty much the same in Bakersfield or Biloxi,” said Des Toups, the managing editor of Carinsurance.com and someone who was possibly born with a Scrabble bag in his hand. “But keeping it on the road will hurt a lot more in Mississippi.”
And the worst state to operate a motor vehicle is in fact Mississippi, where it costs $4,277 on average—after an average insurance quote of $1,515, and $2,772 in yearly gas costs to drive about 20,424 miles—to keep a car on the road, or about 11.6 percent of the average household income. Gas in the Magnolia State may cost a paltry $3.66 per gallon, or a whole half-dollar cheaper than in sunny California (whose oil refineries, which pack the state’s coastlines, are occasionally prone to fire), but when the average household income is $36,821, it squeezes wallets in a way that the state’s highest obesity rate doesn’t.
Unwarranted Mississippi bashing aside, let’s turn our attention to New Hampshire, where people live free and sometimes die in the state where it’s cheapest to run a car: with an average income of twice Mississippi’s, motoring only takes up 4.4 percent of the average Hampshirite’s income. People also drive less than in Mississppi—12,777 miles—though the lowest figure belongs ostensibly to Alaska, because people swap their cars for airplanes. (And dogsleds, which is the easy joke there.)
Check out the full chart here. Where does your state come in?