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Which Australian State Has the Worst Drivers?


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We’re pretty sure most states would say the state (or territory) next to them has the worst drivers in Australia. It’s not exactly a title you want to claim. But it turns out there are actual statistics that categorise what bad driving is and which state’s drivers did the most of it!

We looked at the Finder Safe Driving Report of 2021 to find our facts. Surely not much has changed in the last year or so – you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, etc.

What we can also say is that ALL Australian drivers admit to dodgy driving at some point – egg on face! Some, however, are dodgier than others. Let’s delve deeper into our bad habits…

Angry woman driver shouting in the traffic. Is she from a state with the worst drivers in Australia?

The worst drivers in Australia?

The Finder survey polled 925 Australian drivers about their riskiest habits; this included everything from eating, texting or making calls to smoking, dealing with a child in the backseat or applying makeup.

It turns out that of all the states, South Australians are the worst offenders. More than two-thirds (70%) of respondents admitted to reckless driving habits. 

But South Australians aren’t the only culprits! 59% of people across every state and territory admit to doing dangerous things on the road.

Western Australians are the most likely to have driven in thongs (40%), in comparison to only 24% of drivers in Victoria. You may be thinking “so what?” Before making any presumptions read our article: Is it Dangerous To Drive Barefoot?

1 in 17 drivers admit to having had a “microsleep.” What’s that? It’s a brief episode of sleep that lasts only a few seconds, typically between 1 and 30 seconds. New South Wales drivers are the worst offenders when it comes to falling asleep behind the wheel (9%)

When it comes to the worst drivers in Australia and eating, Queenslanders and South Australians have a bad habit of eating behind the wheel, with nearly half of drivers (49%) admitting to snacking on the road.

PS: Ever wondered Is It Illegal To Drive With A Dirty Number Plate? You might be surprised by what’s right and what’s wrong in the eyes of the law…

Man driving car despair after accident. Is he from a state with the worst drivers in Australia?

Bad driving habits

Furthermore, Finder broke down dangerous driving habit to see which ones are most common. Here are the results:

Eating food45
Driving in thongs28
Texting without using voice control13
Reached back to deal with children10
Answered a call without using hands-free8
Driven with knees7
Used social media6
Applied makeup5
Changed clothes4
Replied to an email3
Watched a movie/TV show3
Read a newspaper/book2

Watched a show? Shaved?! Speechless…

shot of woman's feet hanging out of window of car at the beach

Worst drivers in Australia: men vs women

Get out the popcorn, because we’re about to find out the results to one of the most ongoing gender disputes EVER – who drives better (at least according to the survey)…

It turns out that men are the worst offenders, with 62% admitting to doing something dangerous behind the wheel, in comparison to 57% of women. Men are more likely to text or use social media on the road than women and more likely to indulge in a meal behind the wheel.

Applying makeup and reaching back to deal with children are the only activities women are more likely than men to engage in while driving.

Unsurprisingly, Aussie women are equally as likely to drive in thongs as men. If you haven’t already clicked into our barefoot driving article mentioned above, do so now then read our article Driving in Heels: Is It Safe?

Cheerful young woman doing makeup in car. Is she from a state with the worst driver's in Australia?

Which state has the safest drivers?

Let’s give New South Wales a pat on the back. Their drivers are by far the safest, with 44% claiming they’ve never done anything risky behind the wheel. Either that or they’re fibbers.

Can you guess who’s the safer driver in these this-or-that questions? We’ll pop the answers at the bottom of this piece:

  1. Parents OR child-free drivers
  2. Older Aussies OR younger Aussies

Bad driving … the good news

The good news about the worst drivers in Australia is that dangerous driving has declined over time. Or, at least, fewer people admit to driving recklessly now. In 2017, 70% of drivers admitted to engaging in reckless behaviour on the road, compared to 59% in 2021.

Given that this report is from 2021, we wonder what more recent statistics would say. Post-COVID Australia has a lot more people working from home and we’re pretty sure less people on the road means it’s safer. What do you think?

Check out more ways to stay safe on the road:

A PD Insurance policy is a great gift for a car lover like this hand at the wheel

Choose award winning car insurance for the road

Don’t be one of the worst drivers in Australia! Cutting out reckless driving habits will make things much safer for you and your family. Another good move is choosing quality, affordable and award winning car insurance that helps you enjoy your drive because you know safeguards are in place.

Whether you bump into someone’s mobility scooter trailer while reversing out of the service station, or your car is damaged in a fire or theft (or attempted theft), these are just some of the situations car insurance helps pay for.

You can even add 24/7 road assistance with PD Insurance to our cover, for a minimal once off annual fee. Click below for a free comprehensive car insurance quote today.


  1. Aussie parents are more likely to be distracted drivers (70%) than those without kids (55%).
  2. Older Aussie drivers are far safer than younger drivers, with 62% of baby boomers stating they’ve never done any hazardous driving.

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