The United States has some of the most dangerous roads in the world, based on highway deaths per capita. The World Health Organization ranks our nation as much more dangerous than most northern European countries at 11 highway fatalities annually per 100,000 people. This is three times the death rate of the United Kingdom. The following are just a few of our deadliest stretches that truckers should use very cautiously — rain, snow or shine.
U.S. Highway 1 in Florida
Running 545 miles through 13 Florida counties, more than 1,000 people die in traffic crashes every decade on this stretch of U.S. Highway 1 in the Sunshine State. This makes it the deadliest highway in any state, based on a study done by Geotab, a Canadian GPS vehicle tracking and fleet maintenance company.
Geotab took 10 years’ worth of raw data on road fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and skewed those numbers based on average daily traffic figures provided by the Federal Highway Administration. While fatalities are scattered throughout the length of the road, they increase during the summer months when traffic increases.
U.S. Highway 17 in South Carolina
Truckers shouldn’t be deceived by the beauty of U.S. Highway 17. There’s magnificent scenery along its 1,200 miles, stretching from Virginia to Florida. But in South Carolina, U.S. 17 is an especially picturesque drive that’s also full of narrow lanes, blind curves, sharp turns and even the occasional wild animal darting across the road. It’s a mostly coastal route. But with one traffic death every two miles, nobody is truly safe.
Talmadge Memorial Bridge (U.S. Highway 17) over the Savannah River from Georgia into South Carolina. (Photo: Bridge and Tunnel website)
South Carolina’s share of U.S. 17 threads through major cities such as Charleston, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach. Between 2015 and 2017, 82 people died in traffic accidents along this stretch of road during the summers. One reason for this high rate is that it’s popular among tourists. Myrtle Beach alone receives more than 14 million tourists annually, so a lot of people driving there in any given summer may be unfamiliar with the highway. They may not know which exit to take, and it can spell disaster for everyone else.
Interstate 45 in Houston
Interstate 45, located entirely in the state of Texas, runs 285 miles from Dallas southeastward to Galveston. Just before reaching Galveston, I-45 takes drivers through parts of downtown Houston.
Traffic on I-45 in downtown Houston, Texas in June 2019. (Photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)
With 56.5 fatal accidents for every 100 miles of road along its entire length, the scariest part runs through Houston. Unfortunately, it’s hard to point to any specific feature that makes this section of I-45 one of the most dangerous stretches of road in America. However, various officials blame most of the deaths on people simply not obeying traffic laws — texting while driving, driving drunk and driving too fast.
U.S. Highway 199 in California and Oregon
Known as the Redwood Highway, U.S. 199 runs from Highway 101 near Crescent City, California, to Grants Pass, Oregon, where it connects with Interstate 5. Despite ample amounts of natural beauty to see, drivers face a mix of narrow, twisting lanes on this treacherous road.
Reports from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) show that the highest number of crashes in recent years have occurred between miles 28 and 29. This is where the highway runs through Cave Junction. Many of the crashes are the result of improper lane changes, when impatient drivers tried to pass. In the Cave Junction area, many drivers fail to obey traffic control devices or see pedestrians, according to ODOT.