Auto Insurance

The Deadliest Roads in the U.S.

Of the 179,696 crash fatalities from 2015 to 2019 on U.S. roads, California and Texas accounted for 10% each of the deaths.
First responders arriving at the scene of a car crash.
First responders arriving at the scene of a car crash. Source: Getty Images

Twenty-five states have at least one of the 100 most dangerous roads in the U.S. Seventeen of these roads are in Florida, 15 are in Texas and 11 are in California. While these states appear most frequently on the list of roads where the most fatalities happened from 2015 to 2019 — the latest available data — ValuePenguin found that California roads are responsible for the largest share of deaths.

To this end, the most dangerous road in the U.S. is Interstate 5 in California, where 584 people were killed in 544 deadly crashes. State Route 49 in California topped ValuePenguin's analysis for the rate of deaths per crash, while state Route 91 led for the number of fatal crashes in which alcohol was present.

Key findings

By fatalities and number of fatal crashes, California's roads are the deadliest in the country

By the number of fatalities, the most dangerous road in the U.S. is California's I-5. From 2015 to 2019 on I-5, 544 deadly crashes killed 584 people. This means that 107.4 people were killed for every 100 crashes.

I-5 runs nearly 800 miles long up the length of California, but the deadliest spot for motorists is in San Diego County. In this sector, 110 people were killed in 99 fatal accidents. Beyond San Diego County, at least 50 people were killed in fatal automobile crashes in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, San Joaquin and Sacramento County’s portions of I-5.

The second most deadly road in the country is U.S. Route 1 in Florida, which unfurls along the eastern shore from the state's southernmost point in Key West. On this roadway, 570 people were killed in 534 crashes, resulting in 106.7 deaths per 100 crashes. Most of these deaths (87) occurred in Brevard County, followed by Miami-Dade County (75) and Monroe County (72).

Below, ValuePenguin lists the 10 deadliest roads in the U.S. by the number of fatalities, along with the county where deaths are the highest and the number of people killed in those counties. Five of the 10 most dangerous are in Florida, three are in Texas and two are in California.

The number of deaths on the 100 most dangerous roads accounted for 10% of the fatalities in the entire country from 2015 to 2019.

County with most deaths
1California, I-5San Diego110
2Florida, US-1Brevard87
3California, US-101Santa Clara78
4Texas, I-10El Paso59
5Florida, I-95Palm Beach77
6Texas, I-35Travis84
7Florida, US-41Hillsborough80
8Texas, I-20Tarrant39
9Florida, I-75Hillsborough60
10Florida, US-27Polk64

Although California's I-5 is the most dangerous road in the country for the number of fatal crashes and fatalities, accidents elsewhere are more likely to result in more deaths. On I-5 in California, there were 107.4 deaths for every 100 accidents. On California’s state Route 49, by comparison, there were 146.4 deaths per 100 fatal crashes during the same five-year period. Despite the high death rate, state Route 49 ranks 84th among the 100 most dangerous roads for total fatalities.

Following state Route 49, Texas' U.S. Route 83 and U.S. Route 190 are the most dangerous roads for the number of people killed per fatal accident. Three of the top 10 most dangerous roads for this measurement are in Texas, including U.S. Route 90, which ranks fifth.

There were 109.6 fatalities for every 100 crashes on the country's 100 deadliest roads.

Deaths per 100 fatal crashes
Most dangerous county
California, SR-49146.4Nevada
Texas, US-83139.5Webb
Texas, US-190130.3Polk
California, SR-91128.2Orange
Texas, US-90126.6Bexar
Iowa, I-80126.0Cass
Oklahoma, I-40125.2Canadian
New Mexico, I-40125.2McKinley
Kentucky, I-64124.0Jefferson
Ohio, I-70121.5Franklin

Alcohol was present in the largest share of fatal crashes on California's state Route 91

Drivers who had been drinking were involved in 42% of the fatal crashes that took place on California's state Route 91, which spans 59 miles across the greater Los Angeles area. From 2015 to 2019, there were 36 fatal crashes where alcohol was detected. State Route 91 was the only roadway in this study where alcohol was involved in at least 4 in 10 fatal crashes.

There were 12 roads where alcohol was present in at least 30% of the fatal crashes. Behind California's state Route 91, Interstate 71 in Ohio, which cuts diagonally across the state, saw alcohol in 38% of its fatal crashes. Despite having fewer total crashes where alcohol was present, I-17 is nearly 190 miles longer than state Route 91, underscoring the dangerousness of the short California road when it comes to alcohol.

% where alcohol present
Fatal crashes
Fatal crashes where alcohol present
1California, SR-9142%8536
2Ohio, I-7138%9034
T3Illinois, I-5533%9130
T3South Carolina, US-7633%10434
T3Washington, I-533%16052
T6Colorado, I-2532%15349
T6Maryland, I-9532%9731
T6Colorado, I-7032%12941
9Louisiana, I-1031%21466
T10California, I-1530%27383
T10Virginia, I-6430%11234
T10California, SR-9930%30491

A smaller percentage of the fatal crashes on the country's most dangerous roads had alcohol present compared to nationally. Of the 16,490 fatal car crashes on the 100 deadliest roads, alcohol was found in 22% of these. At the national level from 2015 to 2019, there were 169,009 crashes, with a 27% share where alcohol was present.

Car insurance and drunk driving: A driver's car insurance coverage does protect against damages caused by a drunk driver. However, if the insured was drunk and hit someone else, their policy will not typically offer the same protection.

The most dangerous roads for driving in bad weather conditions

ValuePenguin calculated the number of fatal crashes that occurred on roadways where conditions were less than ideal. The National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database tracks crashes that occur in clear and unclear conditions, including rain, fog, snow and various other weather events. The road where the fewest fatal crashes happened in clear conditions is Virginia's Interstate 81. On this road, just 8% of the 109 fatal crashes happened in clear weather.

% in unclear conditions
1Virginia, I-8192%
T2Virginia, I-9589%
T2Virginia, US-46089%
4Virginia, US-2983%
5Virginia, US-5881%
6Virginia, I-6479%
7Colorado, I-2573%
8Colorado, I-7071%
9Michigan, I-9449%
T10Iowa, I-8045%
T10Texas, US-29045%

Conversely, 89% of the fatal car crashes on Interstate 25 in New Mexico happened in clear, otherwise ideal weather conditions. On this roadway, alcohol was present for 23% of the crashes — slightly above the ratio for all of the top 100 roads. Still, there were 129 fatalities across 121 crashes (106.6 per 100 crashes) on this roadway, with most occurring in Bernalillo County.

% in clear conditions
1New Mexico, I-2589%
2South Carolina, I-2088%
3South Carolina, I-2687%
T3Arizona, I-1087%
T3California, SR-9187%
T4New Mexico, I-4086%
7Florida, SR-5086%
T8California, I-1084%
T8Arizona, I-1784%
T8Illinois, I-5584%

FARS records indicate that a fair number of fatal crashes happen in darkened conditions. Across the 100 most dangerous roads, data showed that conditions across 60 were dark for at least half of deadly crashes. Seventy-one percent of the fatal crashes that happened on California's state Route 91 happened in the dark. While this was the only roadway where conditions were dark for at least 7 in 10 fatal crashes, at least 60% of fatal crashes happened in dark conditions on 18 other roads.

% in darkness
1California, SR-9171%
2Georgia, I-28569%
3Texas, I-3568%
4California, I-1065%
5Louisiana, US-9064%
T6Florida, US-1763%
T6Florida, US-9263%
T6California, SR-9963%
T6Texas, I-4563%
T10California, I-562%
T10California, I-1562%
T10California, I-8062%
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The 100 most dangerous roads in the country

State and roadway
County with most deaths
Deaths in county
Total fatalities
Fatal crashes
Fatalities per 100 crashes
% involving alcohol
% crashes in dark
% crashes in clear weather
1California, I-5San Diego110584544107.427%62%79%
2Florida, US-1Brevard87570534106.718%56%75%
3California, US-101Santa Clara78493437112.828%59%68%
4Texas, I-10El Paso59492457107.720%59%73%
5Florida, I-95Palm Beach77463439105.525%59%64%
6Texas, I-35Travis84442410107.823%68%73%
7Florida, US-41Hillsborough80432413104.619%51%79%
8Texas, I-20Tarrant39412390105.618%53%73%
9Florida, I-75Hillsborough60404354114.125%55%64%
10Florida, US-27Polk6435830611721%50%74%
11California, SR-99Kern54350304115.130%63%79%
12Florida, US-19Pinellas122319302105.616%60%81%
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ValuePenguin analyzed the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) records of fatal automobile accidents to determine the most dangerous roads. Researchers examined data from 2015 to 2019 — the most recently available. As single roadways traverse multiple states, ValuePenguin's study identifies the particular state along with a given roadway where traffic deaths occurred.

Researchers also found the share of fatal accidents that occurred when .001 g/dL or more alcohol (FARS' threshold for a driver's inclusion as a "drinking driver") was detected in a driver’s blood. Additionally, FARS’ measure of "clear" driving conditions is contrasted against several others, including:

  • Rain
  • Cloud
  • Fog, smog, smoke
  • Reported as unknown
  • Not reported
  • Snow
  • Severe crosswinds
  • Blowing snow
  • Other
  • Freezing rain or drizzle
  • Sleet or hail
  • Blowing sand, soil, dirt