Automobile Magazine (January) attempts to rate the states according to these criteria:
We gathered a raft of data from all fifty states [DC doesn’t count, for the obvious reason] and ran it through a special formula to help quantify the pain. This produced scores in three general areas: Cost, Aggravation, and Harassment. Adding the three together gave us a Total Driver Misery Index, which rates each state on the hostility it shows toward motorists.
You might think that this would map neatly from red to blue, and indeed Wyoming comes in at the top (an Index of a mere 24) while California sinks to the cellar (a whopping 93), but that oversimplifies the case: decidedly blue zones like Minnesota and Oregon are on par with, or better than, stand-on-it places like Oklahoma and Kansas.
“Cost” includes vehicle sales tax and registration fees, price of a driver’s license, gas tax, and whether you’re likely to be hit with tolls. Apart from the gas tax, which is merely moderate, Oregon’s costs are among the lowest. (In fact, the only state lower is Alaska, whose gas tax can fairly be described as “nominal.”) Indiana (humongous toll road, very high registration fees) and California (it’s California, dammit) cost the most.
“Harassment” is figured by speed limit, points and whether you can get rid of them, membership in a driver’s license compact (so that your misdeeds at Point B are reported back to your home at Point A), the presence or absence of cameras in lieu of police work, and by actual police work (officers per highway mile). Kansas excels here by a small margin. Absolute worst: Delaware, which has a lowish 65-mph speed limit and approximately one black-and-white per mile. Virginia, the only state to ban radar detectors, runs mid-pack otherwise.
“Aggravation” is a mixture of mild stuff how often you have to renew your license, whether you have emissions tests or not, the presence or absence of a front plate and more annoying stuff that’s presumably weighted more heavily. New Jersey’s horrendous traffic 97.7 cars per mile and high percentage of substandard roads won it the dubious award for Most Aggravating, though Hawaii and California are close behind. Lowest aggravation was to be found in Montana, which has relatively good roads and almost no traffic; Kentucky has more traffic but even better roads.
Oklahoma placed a bit better than average, coming in 19th; the major dings were a ridiculous number of toll roads and generally lousy road conditions.