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The Most Dangerous Highways in the US

The Most Dangerous Highways in the US

We ranked the fifty most dangerous highways in the U.S. using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS).
Aerial view of traffic and overpasses.
Aerial view of traffic and overpasses. Source: Getty Images

The U.S. is home to a network of roadways that measure more than 4 million total miles. Naturally, each road has its own respective track record when it comes to safety, and some roads are more dangerous than others.

More than 34,000 fatal car crashes occur on these roads every year. Of these crashes, 57% occur on U.S. highways and more than 50 people die per day as a result.

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 2010–2016.

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 central Oklahoma, between the Arkansas state border and the Texas panhandle. At 348 miles long, SR-9 is the second-longest state highway in Oklahoma. Fifty fatal crashes took place on this highway from 2010–2016 — with the majority occurring along the portion of road in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.

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 near 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, 80 fatal crashes took place on this highway from 2010–2016.

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 near Los Angeles and I-8 near San Diego.

Most fatal crashes take place on the portion of road running through Los Angeles County, where the volume of traffic is highest. Overall, 680 fatal crashes happened on this highway from 2010–2016.

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-to-west highway connects El Paso, San Antonio and Houston. Most fatal crashes occurred on the segment of I-10 running through Harris County. Overall, 585 fatal crashes happened on this highway from 2010–2016.

Where do crashes involving the most drunken drivers occur?

Percentage of fatal crashes involving a legally drunken driver by highway

This bar graph shows the percentage of fatal crashes that involved drunken drivers on the 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 didn't fare much better, as 55.6% of its fatal car crashes involved drunken drivers. On the opposite end, State Route 35 in Wisconsin had the lowest level 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 in an accident while intoxicated, move your car from oncoming traffic and notify authorities. You'll also 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 convicted, you could face fines, jail time, license suspension and probation. Your auto insurance rates will also increase significantly because you're considered a high-risk driver. In some cases, you may need to find a new insurer that's willing to file an SR-22 on your behalf so you can reinstate your driving privileges.

Which highways have the worst EMS wait times?

Median delay between a fatal crash and EMS arrival by highway

We also checked how long it takes for emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive on the scene of an accident. The above bar graph shows the median delay on the highways ranked in our study. The wait time is typically 10 minutes and 24 seconds. People tended to wait the longest on State Route 105 in Texas, with a median delay time of 30 minutes, while U.S. Route 101 in California had the shortest wait times on the list, four minutes.

The 50 most dangerous highways in the US

Here are the 50 most-dangerous highways ranked in our study, based on data from 2010–2016. The county column shows where most of the fatal crashes occurred.

Rank
Highway
County
Route Type
Fatal Crashes
Fatalities
1US-93 ArizonaMohave CountyU.S. Highway7090
2SR-9 OklahomaCleveland CountyState Highway5060
3US-160 ColoradoLa Plata CountyU.S. Highway8099
4I-5 CaliforniaLos Angeles CountyInterstate680768
5I-10 TexasHarris CountyInterstate585676
6I-20 TexasDallas CountyInterstate490594
7I-80 IowaJohnson CountyInterstate108135
8I-10 FloridaWalton CountyInterstate229278
9I-95 FloridaPalm Beach CountyInterstate615710
10I-10 MississippiJackson CountyInterstate6081
11I-65 AlabamaJefferson CountyInterstate248271
12I-10 ArizonaMaricopa CountyInterstate395483
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Methodology

For this study, we analyzed data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System 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. We looked at fatal crashes per vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) per capita, fatalities per crash and the percentage of fatal nonvehicle collisions that occurred on each highway.

All three factors were normalized using minimum-maximum scaling and were given an equal weighting of 33%.