Table of Contents
The U.S. is home to a network of roadways that measure more than 4 million total miles. Despite technological improvements in automobile quality and standards, there are still more than 34,000 fatal car crashes across the country every year. Of these crashes, 57% occur on U.S. highways and nearly 50 people die per day as a result. Naturally, each road has its own respective track record when it comes to safety, and some roads are more dangerous than others. We analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS) and used this information to rank the 50 most dangerous roads in the country.
Top 5 Most Dangerous Highways in the US
Here are the five worst highways from our dangerous highway rankings.
1. US Route 93 in Arizona
We ranked US-93 in Arizona as the most dangerous highway in the U.S. This 200-mile-long road runs between Wickenburg, Arizona, and the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, also known as the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, near Nevada's border. Many drivers use this route when driving between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Most of the fatal crashes occur along the segment in Mohave County, Arizona. Overall, 70 fatal crashes reportedly took place on this highway from 2010 through 2016.
2. Oklahoma State Highway 9
SR-9 in Oklahoma ranked as the second most dangerous highway in our study. This highway spans east to west through the width of central Oklahoma, between the Arkansas state border and the Texas panhandle. SR-9 is around 348 miles long and is the second longest state highway in Oklahoma. The majority of fatal crashes happened along the portion of road in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. Overall, a reported total of 50 fatal crashes took place on this highway from 2010 through 2016.
3. US Route 160 in Colorado
The portion of U.S. Route 160 running through Colorado placed third on our most dangerous highway rankings. This 490-mile-long highway segment starts at New Mexico and ends near the Kansas state border. The majority of fatal crashes takes place along the portion of road running through La Plata County. In addition, a high mountain pass, known as Wolf Creek Pass, has claimed many vehicles due to steep roadways and switchbacks. Overall, a reported total of 80 fatal crashes took place on this highway from 2010 through 2016.
4. Interstate 5 in California
The portion of I-5 that runs north to south through California is the fourth most dangerous highway in our study. This highway runs for nearly 800 miles from San Ysidro crossing at the Mexican border through the length of California into Oregon. This interstate connects drivers through Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Ana, Stockton and Redding, intersecting with I-10 by Los Angeles and I-8 by San Diego. The majority of fatal crashes take place on the portion of road running through Los Angeles County, where traffic volumes are likely to be the highest. Overall, a reported total of 680 fatal crashes happened on this highway from 2010 through 2016.
5. Interstate 10 in Texas
The portion of Interstate 10 that runs from Anthony, Texas, near the New Mexico state line to the border of Louisiana placed fifth in our dangerous highway rankings. This east–west highway connects the Texan cities of El Paso, San Antonio and Houston. Most fatal crashes occurred on the segment of I-10 running through Harris County. Overall, a reported total of 585 fatal crashes happened on this highway from 2010 through 2016.
Where Do Crashes Involving the Most Drunken Drivers Occur?
The above bar chart shows the percentage of fatal crashes that involved drunk drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) levels above 0.08% for the top 50 dangerous highways that we ranked. On average, 28.7% of all fatal crashes that occurred on a state route or highway, not just those in our top 50 list, involved a drunken driver. On Interstate 80 in Iowa, 56.7% of drivers involved in fatal car crashes were under the influence—the worst track record for any state and 28% higher than the national average. U.S. Route 83 in Texas did not do much better, as 55.6% of its fatal car crashes involved drunken drivers. On the opposite end, State Route 35 in Wisconsin had the least amount of drunken drivers—12.5%—although it still placed 18th on our list of top 50 dangerous highways.
What to Do If You're Involved in a DUI on the Highway
If you're ever involved in a DUI accident on the highway, if possible, remain in your car and move it from oncoming traffic. You should also notify the authorities as soon as possible so emergency services can be sent. As with any accident, you will need to exchange insurance and contact information with the other drivers involved in the accident. Take clear pictures of the damage and vehicle license plates before anyone leaves to document the incident.
Driving under the influence is a serious offense. If you were driving while intoxicated, then you may face fines, jail time, license suspension and probation. Auto insurance rates also increase significantly after a DUI because you're now considered a high-risk driver. In some cases, you may need to find a new insurer to get an SR-22 filing and reinstate your driving privileges.
Which Highways Have the Worst EMS Wait Times?
We were also curious how much time passes between a fatal car crash and the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS). The above bar chart shows the median EMS delays in minutes plotted for the 50 most dangerous highways ranked in our study. Median values were used in lieu of mean values in order to avoid influence from outliers on roads with fewer fatal crashes. The median delay for all state routes and highways in the data set was calculated to be approximately 10 minutes and 24 seconds. State Route 105 in Texas has the longest wait times out of the top 50 dangerous roads in our rankings, with a median delay time of 30 minutes. U.S. Route 101 in California had the shortest wait times on the list, with a median delay of only four minutes.
The 50 Most Dangerous Highways in the US
Here are all 50 of the most dangerous highways ranked in our study. Please note that the county column shows which county the majority of fatal crashes have occurred in for a given highway portion. Fatal crash and fatality numbers are sums measured from the seven-year period between 2010 and 2016.
|Rank||Highway||County||Route Type||Fatal Crashes||Fatalities|
|1||US-93 Arizona||Mohave County||U.S. Highway||70||90|
|2||SR-9 Oklahoma||Cleveland County||State Highway||50||60|
|3||US-160 Colorado||La Plata County||U.S. Highway||80||99|
|4||I-5 California||Los Angeles County||Interstate||680||768|
|5||I-10 Texas||Harris County||Interstate||585||676|
|6||I-20 Texas||Dallas County||Interstate||490||594|
|7||I-80 Iowa||Johnson County||Interstate||108||135|
|8||I-10 Florida||Walton County||Interstate||229||278|
|9||I-95 Florida||Palm Beach County||Interstate||615||710|
|10||I-10 Mississippi||Jackson County||Interstate||60||81|
|11||I-65 Alabama||Jefferson County||Interstate||248||271|
|12||I-10 Arizona||Maricopa County||Interstate||395||483|
|13||I-84 Oregon||Umatilla County||Interstate||69||85|
|14||SR-2 California||Los Angeles County||State Highway||52||54|
|15||US-550 New Mexico||San Juan County||U.S. Highway||50||66|
|16||US-101 California||Santa Clara County||U.S. Highway||597||643|
|17||I-80 Nebraska||Dawson County||Interstate||139||181|
|18||SR-35 Wisconsin||Pierce County||State Highway||51||66|
|19||I-35 Kansas||Johnson County||Interstate||82||102|
|20||I-35 Texas||Dallas County||Interstate||590||644|
|21||SR-182 Louisiana||Terrebonne Parish||State Highway||60||74|
|22||I-69 Indiana||Madison County||Interstate||62||80|
|23||US-59 Texas||Harris County||U.S. Highway||318||390|
|24||I-59 Alabama||Jefferson County||Interstate||178||191|
|25||SR-105 Texas||Montgomery County||State Highway||72||91|
|26||US-82 Texas||Grayson County||U.S. Highway||122||157|
|27||I-75 Florida||Hillsborough County||Interstate||489||557|
|28||US-6 Ohio||Cuyahoga County||U.S. Highway||76||84|
|29||I-85 Alabama||Montgomery County||Interstate||63||69|
|30||US-60 Missouri||Webster County||U.S. Highway||87||100|
|31||SR-15 Georgia||Greene County||State Highway||59||71|
|32||I-10 Alabama||Mobile County||Interstate||50||56|
|33||SR-95 Arizona||Mohave County||State Highway||58||75|
|34||US-385 Texas||Ector County||U.S. Highway||91||116|
|35||US-290 Texas||Harris County||U.S. Highway||167||212|
|36||I-10 New Mexico||Luna County||Interstate||60||74|
|37||US-67 Missouri||St. Francois County||U.S. Highway||89||96|
|38||I-16 Georgia||Bulloch County||Interstate||89||114|
|39||I-8 California||San Diego County||Interstate||134||145|
|40||US-1 Florida||Monroe County||U.S. Highway||639||678|
|41||US-1 Connecticut||Fairfield County||U.S. Highway||59||61|
|42||US-175 Texas||Dallas County||U.S. Highway||74||89|
|43||SR-99 California||Kern County||State Highway||411||461|
|44||US-54 Missouri||Cole County||U.S. Highway||82||99|
|45||US-83 Texas||Starr County||U.S. Highway||164||202|
|46||SR-69 Alabama||Tuscaloosa County||State Highway||67||86|
|47||US-264 North Carolina||Pitt County||U.S. Highway||56||63|
|48||I-64 West Virginia||Cabell County||Interstate||56||67|
|49||SR-78 California||San Diego County||State Highway||62||75|
|50||I-40 Texas||Potter County||Interstate||65||84|
For this study, we analyzed data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS) and looked at crashes from 2010 through 2016. To rank the country's most dangerous roads, we filtered out roads that had fewer than 50 fatal crashes in this seven-year period and developed a grading system that utilized the following three factors: fatal crashes per vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) per capita, fatalities per crash and the percentage of fatal nonvehicle collisions that occurred on each highway. Fatal crashes per VMT per capita allowed us to take local ridership into account, fatalities per crash allowed us to see where the deadliest crashes occur on average, and the percentage of fatal nonvehicle collisions allowed us to take into account safety risks on each road that don't result from dealing with other drivers. All three factors were normalized using minimum-maximum scaling and were given an equal weighting of 33%.