You take your life into your own hands every time you get behind the wheel. That's even more true when you operate a motor vehicle in the Mount Rushmore State.

According to a study done by the law firm Edwards Kirby, South Dakota is in the top 20 most dangerous states for drivers. The rankings are based on nine different factors including the number of licensed drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 (and there are even more under 16), number of motor vehicle fatalities per capita, annual precipitation, highest speed limit, and others.

In the rankings South Dakota came in at #15 most dangerous. We got low marks for a lot of younger drivers per capita, a speed limit of 80 miles per hour, and the number of serious motor vehicle injuries.

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That last factor, which was high overall, wasn't even half of the highest. Alabama, which came in at the top of this list, had a score of 142.7 compared to our 64.3. I'm driving a rental car from Atlanta into Alabama in May and now I'm nervous about that.

Our neighboring states to make the list included Iowa at #16, Nebraska at #12, Montana at #6 and Wyoming at #2.

The least dangerous state to drive in around here was Minnesota coming in at #4 safest. I'm guessing the lawyers didn't try to drive there in the winter on the salt free roads.

North Dakota, which wasn't in the top or bottom twenty ended up in mediocrity at #22.

The two safest places for drivers are not a surprise because they contain the most people who don't drive at all. The District of Columbia was #1 safest followed by New York at #2. I've been to the former but not the latter. But I do know that driving a car around in either place is not fun.

10 Most Dangerous Cities in South Dakota