America’s Top 5 Most Dangerous Highways

By: Bridget Clerkin September 27, 2018
These five highways top the list of the most dangerous in the United States.
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There’s nothing quite like the allure of the open road—and with more than 4 million miles of highway, America has plenty of asphalt to tempt adventurous motorists. But the freedom of driving sometimes comes at a heavy cost.

The country sees tens of thousands of roadway deaths every year, with the most recent estimates for 2017 alone showing 40,100 total fatalities.

To be sure, a number of nationwide issues contribute to the tragedies, including the ever-growing number of distracted driving incidents, which are quickly becoming one of the deadliest factors on the road.

High-speed environs are also an issue across the board, with 57% of fatal crashes in 2016 taking place on a highway.

But not all streets are created equal, and some highways have proven to be much deadlier than others.

Insurance website ValuePenguin recently crunched the numbers spanning from 2010 to 2016 to uncover the country’s most dangerous highways. Keep reading to find out which roads made the ranking—and why they’ve claimed so many lives.

5—Texas’ Interstate 10

Starting in Jacksonville, Florida in the east and traveling all the way to the Pacific in Santa Monica, California, Interstate 10 cuts a mighty course across the country. But the portion of the road running through the Lone Star State has proven especially dangerous, with 585 fatalities occurring there between 2010 and 2016.

The large proportion of roadway deaths may stem from the huge span of highway that travels through the state, with I-10 running 877 miles through Texas, from the Louisiana state line all the way through to the New Mexico border.

Along the way, it passes through the major metropolitan areas of Houston, San Antonio, and El Paso, which may also contribute to the larger number of incidents.

4—California’s Interstate 5

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“The 5,” as it’s known in the Golden State, is another enormous length of highway. Running 796 miles up the spine of California, it stretches from the border town of San Ysidro all the way to a tiny mountain enclave called Weed at the Oregon state line.

Along the way, it encounters a number of huge cities—and even more traffic congestion produced by them—including San Diego, Los Angeles, and state capital Sacramento.

But according to ValuePenguin, the highway’s most problematic point in California is the stretch that travels through the City of Angels, which was host to a majority of the road’s 680 fatal crashes recorded between 2010 and 2016.

3—Colorado’s Route 160

Comparatively small to the stretches of interstate roads, the Colorado state highway spans 490 miles, running from New Mexico to the Kansas border. But the highway makes up for its relatively short length with an objectively high climb.

The route takes a beautiful but dangerous cut through the Rocky Mountains along an area called Wolf Creek Pass.

While the drive offers stunning vistas for those looking to soak in the sights, it’s also responsible for a number of tragedies, with 80 fatal crashes taking places along the high-altitude highway.

It’s not nearly as many deaths as those recorded on the California and Texas interstates, but the Colorado highway ranks so high on this list because it has a series of switchbacks that sing a siren song for adventurous motorists, making it an especially dangerous road.

2—Oklahoma’s State Highway 9

Oklahoma’s second-longest state highway clocks in at 348 miles, stretching from the Arkansas state line all the way through to the Texas border.

All told, only 50 deadly crashes took place on the highway between 2010 and 2016, but it’s a trio of other concerns that make the road so conspicuous.

The Sooner State highway ranked high for the number of fatal crashes per vehicle-miles-traveled per capita—which measures how deadly a road is compared to how frequently it’s traveled.

And the street also raised red flags for its fatalities per crash and high rate of fatal non-vehicular collisions, which indicate accidents that weren’t caused by other cars, but by something else on the road, such as a ditch or a telephone pole.

According to ValuePenguin, this statistic is indicative of something inherently dangerous about the road itself, which helped place Highway 9 so high up on the list.

1—Arizona’s Route 93

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The 200-mile sprint, which runs from Wickenburg, Arizona to the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge on the Nevada border, is a popular route for state residents to take to Las Vegas, but the odds may be stacked against any travelers on the highway.

Between 2010 and 2016, there were 70 reported fatal crashes along the route, with a majority of the deadly incidents taking place in Arizona’s Mohave County.

But what makes the highway especially dangerous isn’t necessarily its deadliness, but it’s desertedness.

The highway ranked fourth in the country for the longest EMS wait time, with an average of 21 minutes needed for an ambulance to reach anyone in need along the route. Coupled with the high speeds that motorists take there on the way to America’s Playground, the highway makes for a place where drivers will need all the luck they can get.

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