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Iowa is the best state to drive in, study shows

Clearly, curves and topography were not factored in.

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- 02:13

Yep, Iowa.

Monte Goodyk/Getty Images

Ask an enthusiast about what makes a location good for driving, and they might talk about access to curvy roads or long stretches of freeway that lack median turnarounds for police officers. Ask that same question to your average car buyer, and the answer will probably mention none of that stuff. The latter was clearly the group in mind behind the latest study that looks at which states are great for drivers.

Wallethub on Tuesday unveiled its latest study, which ranks the best and worst US states for the average car owner. The study, which compiles data into four major categories, says that Iowa is the best state in the Union for driving, with Hawaii ranking dead last. Tennessee and North Carolina round out the top three, respectively.

The first category is "Cost of Ownership and Maintenance," which looks at things like average gas prices, car insurance premiums and maintenance costs. Second-place Tennessee has the highest ranking of any state in this category, with Hawaii coming in last, likely due to the sheer cost of getting gasoline to the isolated island state.

"Traffic and Infrastructure" included rush-hour congestion, average commute times and road and bridge quality. It also looked at weather, factoring in the number of icy or precipitation-heavy days per year. Here, Wyoming took home top honors, despite being at #39 on the overall list. Massachusetts received the worst rank in this category.

The "Safety" ranking covers all sorts of things, from traffic fatality and larceny rates to the strictness of DUI punishments and how many uninsured drivers are believed to be on the road. Despite its low rating on infrastructure, Massaschusetts has the highest ranking in this category, with Montana bringing up the rear at #50.

Finally, the "Access to Vehicles and Maintenance" section examines how easy it is to make sure a vehicle stays healthy. It factored in car dealerships per capita, in addition to car washes, gas stations and parking lots. California had the highest ranking here, with Alaska riding in the caboose.

Wallethub also pulled out some interesting factoids from its research. It found Mississippi had the lowest percentage of congestion at rush hour, while California had the most. Vermont had the lowest car theft rate, while Alaska had the highest. The lowest maintenance costs were found in Montana, while Hawaii's remote location saddles it with some of the highest costs. Check out Wallethub's full study to see where your state lies.