Spring is around the corner, which means that summer isn’t far behind and that means one thing: road trip. And while packing up the car and roaming this vast country is one of the most iconic ways to spend summer, it does have its downside, with roughly 36,000 people dying on American roads each year.
While you might think that huge interstates top the list for most dangerous roads, it’s smaller roads that are the most deadly, based on the number of fatal accidents per 100 miles.
To find which roads are the most dangerous, Finder experts analyzed the latest data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
1. SR-12 (Texas) Coming in as America’s most dangerous stretch of road is Texas State Route 12, also known as Texas State Highway 12 or Texas 12. In 2019, this 20-mile stretch of asphalt recorded 22 fatal accidents, which translates to 112.2 fatal accidents per 100 miles. This high death rate makes the SR-12 the deadliest stretch of road in America.
2. SR-9 (Florida) The second deadliest road is located in the Sunshine State, Florida State Route 9, also known as Florida State Road 9 or Florida 9, which was home to 13 fatal accidents in 2019. Florida State Route 9 is even shorter than Texas State Route 12, coming in at 13.7 miles with a ratio of 95 fatal crashes per 100 miles.
3. SR-11 (Tennessee) Rounding out the top three most dangerous roads in America is Tennessee State Route 11, or Tennessee 11, which recorded 15 fatal accidents in 2019. While this is more deaths than Florida State Route 9, Tennessee State Route 11 is a touch longer at 19.4 miles and has a death rate of 77.3 fatal crashes per 100 miles.
4. I-710 (California) California’s I-710, also called the Long Beach Freeway, is the 4th deadliest road in the United States with 15 fatal accidents in 2019. This interstate only runs 23 miles, giving it an equivalent of 65.2 fatal crashes per 100 miles.
5. SR-5A (Florida) Another Floridian state road takes the 5th spot, with Florida SR-5A, also known as Florida State Road 5A or Nova Road, having 10 fatal crashes in 2019. At a length of only 15.6 miles, Florida SR-5A fatal crash rate equates to 64.1 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
America’s most dangerous long roads
While the top five most dangerous roads are all under 25 miles in length, with four out of the five being under 20 miles long, the chance of you ever driving on that road is pretty low unless you live in one of these states. This is why we also looked at which were the most dangerous longer roads in the USA, which we did by filtering for roads with a length of greater than 300 miles.
1. SR-99 (California) California’s State Route 99, also called Highway 99 or simply 99, is the most dangerous long road to travel on in America, recording 71 fatal crashes in 2019 and with a length of 424.9 miles, Highway 99 has 16.7 fatal crashes per 100 miles.
2. I-95 (Florida to Maine) In the number two slot is our first legitimate interstate, I-95 which stretches 1,919.3 miles from Florida all the way to Maine. In 2019, there were 256 fatal accidents on the road meaning that I-95 has 13.3 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
3. I-85 (Alabama to Virginia) Taking third place on the podium of American’s most dangerous long roads is I-85, which runs 666.1 miles from Alabama to Virginia. I-85 saw 87 fatal accidents in 2019, giving it the equivalent of 13.1 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
4. I-10 (California to Florida) The cross country interstate I-10, which spans eight states and 2,460.3 miles, making it the fourth-longest interstate in the US. It may be on the list as the fourth deadliest road in America by ratio with 12.5 fatal accidents per 100 miles, but if we’re talking sheer volume, I-10 is the deadliest overall road in America with 308 fatal crashes in 2019.
5. I-24 (Illinois to Tennessee) Rounding out the top five most dangerous longer roads in America is I-24, which runs through four states as it stretches 316.4 miles from Illinois to Tennessee. In 2019, I-24 saw 39 fatal accidents, which equates to 12.3 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
Most dangerous US interstates
To get an accurate look at the most dangerous interstates in the US, we split interstates into two distinct types — interstates and auxiliary interstates (or three-digit interstates) — as three-digit interstates are typically shorter.
Topping the list is I-4 which takes the title of most dangerous interstate in America, with 36 fatal accidents on its 132.3 mile stretch of road, with a ratio of 27.21 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
As far as auxiliary interstates, California’s I-710, which was the fourth most dangerous road in America overall, was the top of the most dangerous list for three-digit interstates.
Most dangerous US interstates
All but one of the top five most dangerous highways in the United States is a road under 200 miles in length, with US-301 the most dangerous with a record 74 fatal accidents along its 120 miles of roadway in 2019, giving it a ratio of 61.7 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
Top 5 most dangerous state routes
The top five most dangerous state roads are almost the exact same as the most dangerous roads overall. The lone exception is SR-45 in New Mexico, which was knocked out of the top five most dangerous roads overall by California’s I-710. SR-45 has 56.7 fatal accidents per 300 miles.
Most dangerous roads to drive during bad weather
Before jumping in your car, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan your trip accordingly. These are the roads which saw the most fatal accidents because of bad weather, such as ice or snow.
Sarah George Insurance expert Finder
How to stay safe on the roads during bad weather
You can’t control the weather while you’re driving, but you can take precautions to keep safe while you drive in poor weather.
Try these tips to lower your chance of an accident, even if you’re driving on one of America’s most dangerous roads.
Slow down. High interstate speeds could mean more serious damage if you get in a car crash, so slowing down 5 to 10 mph could save money — and lives.
Accelerate and brake gently. To avoid skidding or hydroplaning, apply pressure to the gas and brakes steadily.
Avoid using cruise control. You want manual control over your vehicle to stay alert and navigate new road conditions.
Increase your following distance.Tailing another car isn’t safe any day, but especially when bad weather could cause other drivers to tap the brakes unexpectedly.
Boost your car insurance.If you do damage your car, you could rest assured that collision or comprehensive coverage can pay for damage caused by you or poor road conditions.
Get a car checkup. When you’re at the beginning of the stormy or cold seasons, consider checking your car’s tires, brakes and fluids as well as clearing any warning lights as they turn on. You’ll be ready for whatever road conditions come your way.
To determine the most dangerous roads, we used Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration. We looked at their “Accident” data file for 2019 in order to determine the number of accidents that occurred on each road. We also took the length of each road in order to calculate the number of fatal accidents per 100 miles. In order to determine which roads were the most dangerous, we looked at roads with at least ten fatal accidents and ranked by the number of fatal accidents per 100 miles.
We used the same data to similarly determine the number of fatal accidents per 100 miles that happened by the type of road — State route, U.S. highway, non-three-digit Interstate and three-digit Interstate.
To determine the most dangerous roads in bad weather, we looked at roads with at least ten fatal accidents that occurred in rain, sleet/hail, snow, fog/smog/smoke, blowing snow, or freezing rain/drizzle.
Richard Laycock is Finder’s NYC-based senior content marketing manager & insights editor, spending the last decade data diving, writing and editing articles about all things personal finance. His musings can be found across the web including on NASDAQ, MoneyMag, Yahoo Finance and Travel Weekly. Richard studied Media at Macquarie University, including a semester abroad at The Missouri School of Journalism (MIZZOU).
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