What are the most dangerous roads in America?

curvy mountain road

Are you prepared to drive wherever the open road may take you? From California to the New York island, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, the roads that get us there are not always safe.

You can’t always avoid the crowded highways, twisted roads, and dangerous intersections in the United States, but you can be prepared. It pays to know how safe your fellow drivers are on the road and which roads may require some extra precaution.

Save your time and money by familiarizing yourself with which roads, both close to home and yet to be explored, to look out for.

What makes a road dangerous?

Aside from fellow human error, there are many elements that contribute to the level of a road’s safety. Of course, any time you are behind the wheel, you should be attentive, but we tend to overlook the elements we expect to always be reliable. 

A list of driving conditions to stay mindful of are: 

       Heavy traffic

       Low population density

       Lighting

       Landscape

       Speed limit

       Insufficient infrastructure

       Road width

       Road conditions

       Poor signage

       Weather conditions

       Seasonal changes

       Wildlife 

Besides the everyday inconveniences that cause frustration, we need to think about how these conditions should affect our driving. Good driving isn’t universal everywhere you go, and being able to adapt is a quintessential part of being a good and safe driver.

How Region Affects Driving Habits

When I first moved to Nevada from Wisconsin, I had friends who thought it was hilarious to shout “Deer” when I was driving on those poorly lit outskirt dirt Las Vegas roads. Though they couldn’t find a breath between laughs, I was busy trying to regain my heartbeat. 

Landscape and wildlife may seem odd on this list to those of you from flatland or urban parts of the country. When you’re not used to looking out for hills or animals, thinking to do so may not be something you considered necessary. However, those like me from the northern or western parts of the country will tell you both have grave impacts on the way you drive. 

Before going on road trips or even driving in a new state, looking up road conditions and speed limits can help you avoid car accidents. Cities that experience all four seasons and drastic weather changes tend to have more physical road issues that make driving dangerous.

Weather can be the root cause for traffic jams, potholes, fallen signage, and non-working traffic signals. In addition to slowing down when you encounter turbulent weather conditions, checking the weather in advance can help you prepare for anything you may discover.

Dangerous Highways Across America

Highways are the most convenient ways to travel because they get us where we want to go faster. Whether you’re staying local or on a road trip, highways are the most familiar roads used on a daily basis across the United States. 

A list of a few highways across the country that are notably dangerous are:

   I-15 in Nevada: It is arguably the most dangerous road in the country. This is where landscape matters because highway hypnosis is what can cause people to think it’s safe enough to speed up or tune out.

   Interstate 285 in Atlanta: Due to an influx of state residents, that frankly, the city wasn’t ready for, Atlanta experiences heavy traffic times. The city is currently creating new roads to control the traffic better, but in the meantime, the construction only adds to the already dangerous factors.

   Highway 17 in South Carolina: Midwesterners aren’t the only ones worried about wildlife. This highway is beautiful because of its natural landscape, but the beauty also makes road signs hard to see. With greenery comes wildlife, so from distracted drivers to deer, you need to be cautious.

   The Dalton Highway in Alaska: In addition to harsh weather conditions for most of the year, there is also a low population density. Due to the low population, there are no gas stations or stores for over 200 miles on this road, making it extremely dangerous if you don’t prepare for it.

   The Million Dollar Highway in Colorado: With no guardrails to keep you from rolling down the vast mountains, it’s no wonder travelers feel unsafe. Even with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, the twists and turns of the road make spotting signs and other vehicles extremely difficult.

The Intersections to Watch out for

On average, the government spends over $50 billion for highway and road maintenance and infrastructure a year. Even with the increasing budget and innovations to spot red-light camera violators, some streets are still disproportionately unsafe. 

A list of states that have a history of not prioritizing roadway infrastructure and whose road quality rapidly declines because of weather conditions is: 

       California

       Hawaii

       Rhode Island

       Massachusetts

       Michigan

       New Jersey

       New York

       Washington

       Wisconsin

Uncoincidentally, drivers registered in these states commonly pay higher rates for car insurance and other annual vehicle fees. It’s also not surprising that where there are faulty roads, there are the country’s most dangerous intersections. A small list of intersections with the most accidents and fatalities is: 

       Birmingham, AL: University Boulevard and 28th Street

       Denver, CO: MLK Jr. Boulevard and Quebec Street

       Little Rock, AK: Asher Avenue and South University Avenue

       Columbus, OH: Broad Street at James Road

       Bensalem, PA: Knights Road and Street Road

       Milwaukee, WI: Capitol Drive W and 35th Street N

       Stone Mountain, GA: Memorial Drive and North Hairston Road

       Glendale, AZ: 59th Avenue and Olive Avenue

       West Bloomfield, MI: Orchard Lake Road and 14 Mile Road

       Honolulu: 1450 block of Ala Moana Boulevard

       New Orleans, LA: Canal Street at Carondelet Street and Bourbon Street

How Drivers Can Stay Safe

We cannot always control the landscape, traffic flow, or the quality of the roads we drive on, but we can practice adaptable safe-driving techniques. Don’t allow yourself to be a distracted driver that can have deadly consequences. 

More time and funding has been going into researching what drivers pay attention to and how we can build roads to be more efficient, durable, and overall safer for everyone on the road. 

If your state didn’t make any of the “infrastructure naughty” lists, you should familiarize yourself with what road dangers you may have become numb to. Refer to this resource and others alike when planning to travel to help keep you and everyone on the road safe.            

Danielle Beck-Hunter writes and researches for the auto insurance site, AutoInsurance.org. Danielle has an English degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and has been a registered driver in Wisconsin, Georgia, California, and Nevada.

  

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