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Utah is the ninth safest state for driving, according to a new study.

That ranking released this week by the 24/7 Wall St. website adds to a debate about how good — or bad — Utah drivers are, because a variety of other studies put them at nearly all points imaginable along the safety spectrum.

The new study by 24/7 Wall St. looked mostly at the rate of deaths on the nation's highways using data from 2013. It said Utah had a rate of 7.6 deaths per 100,000 residents that year, a total of 220 fatalities.

"Utah motorists are relatively responsible behind the wheel," the study said. "Of the 96 drivers who died in car accidents in 2013, 65 percent of them had been drinking, a smaller share than the 72 percent of American drivers killed the same year."

It added that urban roads tend to have fewer fatalities than rural roads, where speeds are faster and accidents are more catastrophic. And "only 27 percent of all driving in Utah takes place in rural areas. Nationally, 32 percent of all driving is rural."

Of note, since 2013 — the year studied by the new 24/7 Wall St. report — fatalities have increased significantly on Utah highways. Deaths rose to 256 in 2014, up 16 percent. Before the Thanksgiving holiday this year, Utah already had 249 deaths with only a month left in the year.

The Utah Department of Transportation has said the high fatality rates this year can't be blamed on raising urban freeway speed limits to 70 mph, which took effect last December. Most deaths, say highway officials, have occurred outside of those zones.

The report also looked at seat belt use.

"Nationally, 87 percent of vehicle occupants use a seat belt," it said. "In Utah, however, only 82 percent choose to buckle up. Despite slightly worse habits, with 7.6 deaths on the road for every 100,000 [residents], Utah is one of the safest states in the country to drive."

Utah this year passed a new law that allows police to pull over and ticket people for not buckling up. Previously, officers had to stop drivers for other violations before they could cite them for not wearing a seat belt as a secondary offense

The new study said the safest state for driving is Massachusetts. It ranked Montana as the most dangerous.

Other recent studies disagree about how good Utah drivers are as they focused on different criteria. currently ranks Utah drivers as the seventh best in the nation (based on rates for fatalities, DUI, speeding and other criteria). ranked them last year as the 10th rudest, because many Utahns fail to signal their intentions and speeding is common.

And Allstate insurance gave Salt Lake City drivers middle-of-the-road marks this year as No. 74 safest out of the nation's 200 largest cities (and West Valley City ranked No. 95).

The Allstate study in September said Salt Lake City drivers are in accidents once every 9.1 years, about 10 percent more often than the national average. West Valley City drivers crash once every 8.7 years, 14.3 percent more often than average.