Pop culture has long exalted America’s love affair with the open road. From movies to music, cars have long been personified as the key to freedom, individuality and adventure. But before you get behind the steering wheel for your next road trip, take a moment to plan your course and make sure you know which highways you’ll encounter so you can be prepared.
Whether it is nonexistent side rails, plunging cliffs, hairpin curves, steep grades or weather, some of America’s roadways go beyond fun and adventure to sheer terror and death-defying experiences.
From Alaska to Florida, Connecticut to California and even in Colorado, dangerous roadways abound. Here, in no particular order, are the top 10 most perilous roadways in the United States, as ranked by Popular Mechanics and Smashing Lists.
#1 Highway 550, Colorado
Known as the “Million Dollar Highway”, the 25-miles of roadway that connects the towns of Ouray and Silverton climbs to 11,000 feet above sea level as it traverses Red Mountain Pass.
The road is particularly dangerous because it lacks guardrails so that snow and avalanche debris can be efficiently removed. Add to that a steep grade and an absence of shoulders in many places, and it is easy to see why this stretch of highway is so dangerous for drivers navigating the road’s treacherous twists and hairpin turns. Drivers are rewarded with an immediate plunge down the side of the mountain for even the slightest driving deviation.
#2 US Highway 2, Montana
With some of the straightest and loneliest roadways in the entire country, it is no surprise that Montana also has at least one of the most dangerous roadways. The stretch of US 2 that runs through Montana is flat and straight and towns are sparse, meaning drivers can go really fast. In fact, most accidents that occur on this stretch of roadway are high-speed accidents, and because the area is so isolated, medical help is usually hours away.
#3 Interstate 95, Miami
This stretch of roadway spans the entire east coast of Florida, from Miami to the Georgia border. Conditions near the metro Miami area are nearly always congested and busy, despite 12 lanes of roadway. Florida’s notoriously extreme weather is often a contributing factor to accidents, as drivers become disoriented in heavy rain and wind.
#4 Dalton Highway, Alaska
Alaska is a land that tends to make everything more extreme and driving is no exception. Dalton Highway was made famous in the television show “Ice Road Truckers” and is a primary route for semi truck drivers traveling between Fairbanks and the North Slope.
The 414-mile dirt roadway gets its place on this notorious list because of extreme weather conditions, dangerous traffic and isolated location. When accidents happen here – and they do – help takes a very, very, very long time to arrive. The road is so isolated and dangerous that state transportation officials patrol the road by helicopter twice a day looking for accidents or breakdowns.
#5 Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana
This 24-mile-long bridge crosses Lake Pontchartrain and is the longest continuous bridge over water. Not for the faint of heart on the best of days, fog is the biggest danger on this scenic waterway drive. The fog rolls in so thick that drivers can’t see beyond the hood of their own vehicles. Police escorts often intervene to assist drivers with the crossing, but caution that driving in the fog can be very dangerous and unnerving for even the most seasoned driver.
#6 Interstate 15, Los Angeles to Las Vegas
Not surprisingly, the main artery between LA and Sin City makes the list of dangerous roadways. With more than 8 million people driving back and forth each year, this 180-mile stretch of roadway claims more lives than any other road in California. Driving under the influence and distracted driving are the biggest culprits for the high fatality rate.
#7 Interstate 95, Connecticut
More than 10 percent of all accidents in the state of Connecticut occur on an 8-mile stretch of I-95 surrounding the city of Norwalk. State police attribute the high accident rate to congestion combined with hairpin curves and hills found in that area.
#8 Interstate 24, Tennessee
Passing over Monteagle Mountain in eastern Tennessee, this stretch of roadway offers drivers steep grade, a sharp curve and thick fog every morning. Once notorious for crashes involving runaway semi trucks (somewhat remedied by the addition of gravel pits on the roadside), the road was also made famous in a song by Johnny Cash who lamented about the road’s long, steep grade and dangerous conditions.
#9 Interstate 285, Georgia
This stretch of interstate circles the city of Atlanta and is one of the busiest roads in America, seeing more than 2 million drivers each day. Congestion is the biggest culprit here, with even minor accidents developing into bigger incidents. The interchange with I-85 is also a main cause of danger, with 18 lanes and multiple highway levels causing driver confusion and dangerous conditions.
#10 Interstate 79, Pennsylvania & West Virginia
What puts this stretch of roadway on the list is the hairpin U-turn drivers must navigate where the road intersects with I-70. The junction is a notorious spot for accidents where drivers often fail to navigate the treacherous design. Even local politicians recognize the roadway as “horribly designed” and in need of attention.
While these roadways are deemed the most dangerous in the US, driving accidents can happen anywhere and anytime. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile or motorcycle accident, it is important to seek advice from a qualified personal injury attorney to assess your rights and responsibilities in the matter.
The lawyers at McDivitt Law have helped hundreds of accident victims receive compensation for their injuries. Contact one of the experienced Auto Accident Attorneys at McDivitt Law Firm today to request a FREE consultation.