The U.S. saw the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2005 in 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTA). There were 42,915 traffic-related deaths in 2021, representing a 10.5% increase since 2020.
Any time a driver gets behind the wheel, there is a risk of getting into a car accident. However, knowing which roads are the safest—or the riskiest—can help reduce the likelihood of getting into a crash.
Keep reading to learn about the seven most dangerous roads in the U.S. and how to keep yourself safe.
Seven Most Dangerous Roads in the U.S.
1. Interstate 95
Where Is I-95?
The I-95 passes through more states than any other highway. Interstate 95 is located on the East Coast of the U.S., from the U.S. Route 1 through Miami, Florida, through the province of New Brunswick — bordering Canada and Maine. The highway creates a passageway through New England and Florida and connects Eastern Seaboard cities. Cities including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Washington, and more are connected by I-95.
Why Is I-95 dangerous?
Based on data by the NHTSA, the I-95 is the most dangerous highway in the U.S. In the year 2019, the I-95 was responsible for 284 traffic fatalities and 14.88 deaths for every 100 miles traveled. The NHTSA found that accidents on the I-95 were most prevalent in the winter months, particularly in the Northeastern states.
2. Interstate 20
Where Is I-20?
The I-20 is one of the largest highways in America and passes through many Southern, rural areas. The I-20 runs from the eastern to western U.S. states, from Western Texas to North Carolina, passing through states including Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Atlanta, Louisiana, Mississippi, and more.
Why Is I-20 dangerous?
According to the NHTSA, the I-20 has the second highest car-related fatalities per mile. In 2019 alone, there were 208 or 13.52 fatalities every 100 miles. The highway has increased accidents and deaths during winter, particularly during poor weather conditions such as sleet, rain, ice, or snow.
3. Interstate 5
Where Is I-5?
I-5 is located along the Pacific Coast of the United States and also includes California, Oregon, and Washington. The I-5 connects Sacramento, San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
The highway begins in Mexico at the San Ysidro border and extends through the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington.
Why Is I-5 dangerous?
Based on NHTSA data from 2019, I-5 got rated the third most dangerous road in the United States. Particularly for those driving cars, the I-5 can be more hazardous due to the high number of 18-wheelers that use it as a transit route. In 2019, 186 fatalities on the I-5 and 13.47 deaths occurred for every 100 miles driven.
4. Interstate 75
Where Is I-75?
The I-75 begins in the Great Lakes and ends near the Florida peninsula, passing through six states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. The I-75 connects several metropolitan cities, including Fort Myers, Cincinnati, and Detroit.
Why Is I-75 dangerous?
According to the NHTSA, the I-75 is considered the fourth most dangerous highway, with 13.27 fatalities per 100 miles in 2019 and 237 fatalities. Because most of the I-75 runs through states that experience cold weather, the highway can be unsafe during the winter months.
Therefore, if you plan to travel long distances during the winter on the I-75, carrying an emergency kit is a good idea to combat the potential effects of winter weather.
5. Interstate 35
Where Is I-35?
The I-35 begins in Laredo, Texas, and extends through Duluth, Minnesota. The highway runs through several major cities, including Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, Texas.
Why Is I-35 dangerous?
I-35 is the fifth most dangerous road in America. Not only does the I-35 pass through several states that experience winter weather, but it also connects largely-populated cities, which can pose additional risks for drivers.
In 2019, the NHTSA reported 197 fatalities or 12.56 deaths every 100 miles on the I-35.
6. Interstate 15
Where Is I-15?
I-15 extends through Canada's Mexican border and passes through six states, including Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. The highway includes Las Vegas, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and the Orange and Riverside counties in Los Angeles.
Why Is I-15 dangerous?
I-15 is considered the sixth most dangerous highway in the U.S. According to the NHTSA, 158 people were killed in 2019 while traveling on the I-15, meaning 11.02 deaths occurred every 100 miles. Since it runs through desert areas, some parts of the highway have good driver viability.
7. Interstate 40
Where Is I-40?
I-40 is the third-largest highway in the U.S., located in the south-central areas of the country. The interstate begins in California, ends in North Carolina, and includes California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Why Is I-40 dangerous?
Although the I-40 is rated as the seventh most dangerous highway in the U.S., certain areas are riskier, particularly in Tennessee and North Carolina. There were 192 deaths on the I-40 in the year 2019, according to ABC EyeWitness News. Speed, substances, and distracted driving cause significant causes of accidents on I-40.
What Behaviors Increase Highway Risk?
- High Speeds
- Neglecting Seatbelts
- Driving Under the Influence
Speed is a major contributing factor to road accidents, injuries, and fatalities each year. Speeding diminishes a driver’s ability to react to incidents on the road and can cause swerving and delayed stops.
It lowers the capability of guardrails, barriers, and dividers to protect drivers on the road. According to data by the National Safety Council, speeding played a role in 29% of accidents, 11,258 vehicle fatalities, and caused 30 deaths per day in 2020.
Seatbelts have the power to keep us safe when traveling and help prevent passengers from being ejected in the case that an accident does occur. The Zebra found that, between September 2019 and March 2020, 14% of drivers had unknown seatbelt usage.
Since March 2020, the same study found that seat belt usage declined by 19% until July 2020 and continued to lower to 24% by September 2020.
Driving Under the Influence
Alcohol and drug driving use contribute to many collisions, particularly fatal ones. Based on a U.S. Department of Transportation study that surveyed five trauma centers in populated areas, nearly one-third of traffic fatalities that affected drivers were caused by DUIs; from July 2020 through September 2020.
How To Stay Safe on Dangerous Roads
It is vital to take the necessary precautions and remain alert when driving, particularly on potentially more hazardous routes.
Before traveling, it is a good idea to plan your route to ensure you are avoiding unsafe areas, poor weather, or risky road conditions. It is always necessary to obey required traffic laws and to pay attention to the speed limit and road signs as you travel.
Make sure to keep an eye on any upcoming rest stops in case you feel yourself falling asleep or if you need a break along the way.
- Be Extra Cautious on Dangerous Roads
- Drive in Good Visibility Conditions
- Plan Ahead for Your Travel
- Take Breaks and Stay Alert
- Obey Traffic Laws
What To Do Next
Understanding the risks of any roadway can help drivers diminish risk and keep themselves, their passengers, and other drivers on the road safe.
Depending on your transportation needs, you can also increase your safety by installing a speed-monitoring device, completing maintenance check-ups on your vehicle, and utilizing GPS technology. If you are transporting your car long distances, you may want to enlist the help of a transportation provider, such as Carvaygo.
Visit our website to learn more about Carvaygo’s services.
The 10 Most Dangerous Roads in The U.S. | The Zebra
Most Dangerous Highways in The U.S. | Morristown Minute
Interstate 95 | Interstate Guide
California Has Some of The Most Dangerous Highways in The U.S. | Steven M. Sweat
I-40 Ranked One of The Deadliest Highways for Summer Travel | ABC EyeWitness News