The average American spends nearly 300 hours driving and covers approximately 11,000 miles each year. The United States is home to some of the best road trips anywhere in the world. In general, it’s easy to travel by car in the US at any time of the year. But America is no stranger to traffic fatalities either. In fact, more than 40,000 people die in car crashes each year. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in people under the age of 30 in the US.
Risk factors for fatal traffic accidents range from the driver’s age and gender (teen drivers and males are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents) to the inappropriate use of seat belts, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, distracted driving, and drowsy driving.
But drivers are not the only ones to blame for traffic fatalities. There are roads, both in busy cities and remote parts of the country, that are hazardous and rack up a sizeable number of fatalities each year. Curious to know what are the most dangerous roads in America? Then read on. These are some of America’s deadliest roads.
The Florida section of US Route 1 is one of the deadliest roads in America. Part of the reason is that Florida does not have a full ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Hand-held devices are known distractions that can significantly increase the risk of traffic fatalities. By some estimates, cell phone usage is responsible for 1 in 4 car crashes. In addition, Route 1 is a straight shot down the Sunshine State’s east coast, which encourages aggressive drivers to overspeed. What’s more, the southern end of Route 1, known as the Overseas Highway, connects Miami to the Florida Keys using a number of ocean bridges, which some drivers are unable to navigate safely.
Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway winds through the San Juan Mountains and offers some of the most breathtaking views you will find on any road trip in the country. But rising to 11,000 feet above sea level, it has a number of hairpin turns without guardrails that can leave even experienced drivers unnerved. Moreover, occasional rock slides and inclement weather can make it a white-knuckle drive. In fact, even though the official name is US Route 550, the nickname Million Dollar Highway has stuck after a woman reportedly said she would have to be paid $1 million to ever drive on this road again.
With 1.41 fatalities per mile, the 132-mile Interstate-4 between Daytona Beach and Tampa is regularly listed among the deadliest highways in America. The AAA believes this is because the I-4 runs through Orlando which is a tourist hotspot. As a result, there are many rental car drivers on this stretch of road that are prone to distracted driving.
The I-10 is a whopping 2460 miles long, running from Santa Monica, California on the west coast to Jacksonville, Florida on the east coast. It is one of the deadliest roads in America with 0.85 fatalities per mile. The 300-mile section that runs through Arizona is particularly dangerous because of speeding and aggressive driving, given that it is a mostly straight road through the desert.
South Carolina’s US Route 17 is incredibly scenic but also extremely dangerous. Wildlife crossings, sharp turns, sudden curves, and narrow lanes make it one of the most hazardous stretches of road in the country, especially in the summer months when there is an influx of tourists to Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
Running from Fort Worth in Southern Texas to North Little Rock in Arkansas, the I-30 is a 367-mile stretch with the shoulders littered with debris from past accidents. Many drivers have complained that they find Interstate 30, which is a construction hotspot, confusing and dangerous. Some lanes are very narrow and without a shoulder, which means 18-wheelers can frequently go in and out of lanes, throwing other drivers off.
The 100-mile Taconic State Parkway that starts just north of New York City in New York and ends in Chatham has narrow lanes and perilous intersections, compounded by frequently inclement weather.
The I-15 is a busy stretch of road that connects Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. This 181-mile road is populated by eager gamblers in a hurry to get their hands on a big win and disappointed losers driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (1 in 4 crashes on this road involves a drunk driver). Moreover, the long stretches of open road in the Mojave Desert are a temptation for drivers to overspeed, making the I-15 one of the most dangerous roads in America.
Louisiana's Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is 24 miles long and holds the Guinness World Record for the longest bridge over water. Many people find it unsettling to make the half-hour trip across the bridge, especially when they get to the middle from where no land is visible. The AAA also reports that the area is prone to fog, which is sometimes so thick and hazardous that police have to escort cars across the causeway.
The I-45 is 285 miles long and connects Dallas and Houston. It is prone to traffic congestion and complacent driving. On average, there are 0.56 fatalities per mile on this dangerous road in America.
The posted speed limit on his east-west highway in northern Montana is 70 mph. But given that it runs through remote parts of the state, many aggressive drivers ignore the speed limit, leading to a high number of motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities. What’s more, the remoteness of Highway 2 means that access to help is often delayed when an accident happens.
Also called “The Perimeter” because it forms a loop around the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the I-285 is a 64-mile stretch that also connects to other major highways in the area. Traffic congestion is the main reason why the I-285 is one of the most dangerous roads in America with a reported 0.35 deaths per mile.
Extending from Fairbanks to Deadhorse through pristine Alaskan wilderness, the James Dalton Highway is a 414-mile stretch of gravel road in treacherous terrain including steep hills and forests. This remote highway has only three towns along its length, including a 240-mile stretch that’s devoid of any rest stops or gas stations. It was featured on the TV series “Ice Road Truckers.” Icy road conditions and darkness add to the hazards on the Dalton Highway.
The I-5 is a major highway that connects the Mexican border at San Ysidro in Southern California to the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington State, passing through San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Redding. Between 2015 and 2019, there were nearly 550 fatal accidents on this stretch of 1381 miles which enjoys mostly clear weather. Almost a third of the fatal crashes on the I-5 involve alcohol.
I-37 is a 143-mile highway that connects San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas. It is a critical public safety hurricane evacuation roue. The I-37/US 77 interchange is a particularly dangerous crash spot with some surveys showing that nearly 4 out of 10 crashes occur at this interchange. It is believed to be due to a lane drop from four to three lanes in the southbound direction and a shared center lane in the northbound direction where the I-37 and US 77 split.
Located in mainly rural areas, Shore Road or Route 404 in Maryland sees more than its fair share of motor vehicle accidents, making it one of the most dangerous roads in America. The volume of traffic on this route that runs between Maryland and Delaware beaches peaks during the summer. The highway has undergone a multi-million-dollar expansion to help accommodate hurricane evacuations and ease beach-traffic congestion. There’s a memorial garden that’s been erected on Orly Road near Route 404 to commemorate the victims of car crashes on Shore Road.
Extending from Miami, Florida to Houlton, Maine, this 1926-mile highway spans across major cities like Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Jacksonville. It is one of the deadliest roads in America with 0.89 fatalities per mile. Accidents on this highway are frequently serious, involving multiple vehicles and high-speed crashes. Particularly dangerous are South and Central Florida, including Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties which have high volumes of daily traffic.
Stretching from Lake Tahoe to Reno, the Mt. Rose Highway is one of the most scenic driving routes in the country but also one of the most dangerous. Sharp curves, hairpin turns, sheer drops, and serpentine twists combined with snow and ice make it particularly treacherous in the winter months.
This 306-mile highway goes from Kingsport, Tennessee to Charleston, South Carolina. The most hazardous section of the interstate 26 is from Orangebug to Charleston. There were 57 traffic deaths in this section alone during a three-year period. Drivers report this deadly stretch of road is simply not wide enough for the kind of traffic it sees. Since the late 1960s when it was built, this highway has seen a manyfold increase in daily traffic. A section of the interstate was recently widened from six to eight lanes to ease congestion. Speeding is also believed to contribute to accidents on I-26.
Surrounded by lush greenery, forests, and crashing waves, the Road to Hana on the eastern shore of Maui, Hawaii, looks nothing short of paradise. But this 52-mile road that runs between Hana and Kahului has 59 narrow bridges and more than 600 turns. The journey takes 2-4 hours on average and can be intimidating for inexperienced drivers. Hawaii’s tourism authority recommends that visitors experience the beauty of the Road to Hana with an experienced driver from a tour company rather than self-drive in a rental car.
The 64-mile I-19 runs from Tucson, Arizona to the US-Mexico border at Nogales and is one of the most dangerous roads in America. It goes through remote parts of the Arizona desert with flat, open landscapes that tempt drivers to push their cars to the limit.
It’s considered one the world’s foremost roads for car touring and motorcycling. The 11-mile stretch called Tail of the Dragon on the Tennessee and North Carolina state line offers truckloads of excitement. But it’s desolate and dangerous and not for the faint-hearted, especially in the winter months. Drivers and riders frequently have to deal with wildlife crossings, downed trees, ice and snow, and tractor trailers occupying both lanes on curves. However, 18-wheelers are banned from this highway.
It’s one of the shortest highways in the US at only 18 miles long, but the I-97 which runs from Annapolis to Baltimore in Maryland is one of the most dangerous interstates in the country. With 0.79 fatalities per mile, this limited access road has had many traffic fatalities from head-on collisions caused by people going the wrong way. Alcohol and young drivers also play a role in I-97 accidents. Most accidents on this stretch of highway occur between 12 midnight and 5 am.
Crossing major cities like Sacramento and Los Angeles, SR-99 or Highway 99 is a one of the deadliest roads in the United States with a death rate of 2.02 per mile. The main reason for this high traffic fatality rate is that SR-99 is a two-lane highway. This makes head-on collisions more likely. Another possible reason is drivers tend to lose focus and veer into oncoming traffic. Moreover, congestion on SR-99 can lead to careless mistakes and road rage. Also, Highway 99 has many blind curves that can be hard to navigate even by experienced drivers, particularly at nighttime.
The I-25 runs through New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. It has the ignominy of being the worst road for driving in clear conditions. Meaning, this interstate sees a high number of traffic fatalities despite an absence of rain, snow, fog, and other types of inclement weather that can make driving dangerous. The New Mexico section of I-25 from Las Cruces towards Santa Fe is 462 miles long. It has frequent exits to city roads which are the site of many fatal crashes. Aggressive driving and alcohol are also culprits in fatal accidents on the I-25.
Because it is a convenient connection for than 20 towns and cities in Virginia, the interstate 81 sees high traffic volumes. Nearly half of the state’s goods are transported on this route and 40% of the traffic on I-81 consists of large trucks. The I-81 also runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway which is a popular route for tourists. Tight curves, inclement weather including snow and ice, and traffic congestion are cited as reasons for the I-81 being one of the most dangerous roads in America. Approximately one-fourth of accidents on this stretch involve trucks. Drivers of standard passenger cars are at high risk because they must share the road with monster trucks.
This highway is 865 miles long and has earned the nickname of “Death Highway.” It spans across Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas and sees many fatal crashes involving large tucks carrying supplies to and from the oil fields in the region. Experts say the route, built in 1926, was not meant for commercial use. Driver exhaustion is also cited as a possible cause for traffic fatalities on this deadly road in America.
At just over 19 miles long, Pikes Peak Highway in Colorado is one of the steepest roads in America with an average gradient of 7%. Hairpin bends and drivers getting distracted by the stunning mountain views add to the dangers of driving on this road.