These Are The Most Dangerous U.S. Highways This Holiday Season


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The holiday season can be a rush, but this doesn’t mean driving needs to be, especially if you’ll be taking one of the most dangerous highways in the U.S. More than 100 million people will be relying on roads and highways to make it to their loved ones or reach their end-of-year vacation destinations over the holidays, but not all highways are the same. Despite conditions and speed limits, certain roads are more prone to accidents than others.

Colorado Highway 550. Famous Million Dollars Highway Near Durango, Colorado, United States.

Officials stress the importance of slowing down this season to ensure that you can get to where you want to go safely and enjoy the festive season ahead. While certain states will be battling wintry conditions that impact roads, speeding is the leading cause of accidents in the U.S., and this is a deadly combination when paired with roads that are vulnerable to other conditions and circumstances.

It’s no surprise that when conditions change, weather-related crashes represent 21% of all vehicle crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which analyzed the average between 2007 and 2016. With rainfall representing 46% of this number and snow accounting for 18%, the weather will likely impact driving itineraries this season, and accidents are more prone when roads are wet from rain or snow.

Young woman calling for help or assistance inside snow covered car.

Below are 5 of the most dangerous roads and highways in the U.S., and the ones you want to use extra caution on this holiday season.

Interstate 95 | Florida

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the I-95 in Florida is considered one of the most dangerous highways, with most incidents happening in Jacksonville and Brevard Country, just outside of Orlando.

Florida is one of the last few states not to have implemented a cell phone text messaging ban, which could point to reasons why drivers are distracted. Other parts of the highway, such as the northeast, also see heavy accidents during winter, while Virginia reported almost 90% of accidents happening in unclear conditions such as rain or snow.

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The view of four-lane traffic on 95 North with signs into Sunpass toll and Florida Turnpike into Orlando and Miami

Interstate 4 | Florida

Florida comes in as the number three most dangerous state for road accidents, and Interstate 4 helps give it this name. Running between Tampa and Daytona Beach, and directly through Orlando, it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the US since it has the highest incidents per mile out of all other roads. Orlando is considered one of the largest tourist destinations in the country, which means heavy tourist numbers and new people are navigating the roads.

Aerial shot at dusk over the 408 and I-4 interchange in Orlando.

Interstate 45 | Texas

Texas sits just ahead of California as the number one most dangerous state for road accidents. The I-45 from Dallas to Galveston, running through Houston, is known for its traffic and congestion, with drivers that speed, text while driving, and get behind the wheel after drinking.

In true Texas spirit, even its speed limit is bigger, as Texas has the only highway in the country that allows for 85mph (the Texas Highway 130). Parts of the Interstate 45 can go up to speeds of 75mph, which is a typical mph in the Western United States, while the Eastern United States typically keeps to 65 to 70mph.

Panorama aerial view downtown and interstate 45, 69 highway intersection, massive intersection, stack interchange and elevated road junction overpass at sunset from the southeast side of Houston, TX

Interstate 15 | Nevada & California

More recognized as the Las Vegas Freeway, this road has been considered one of the most dangerous roads in the U.S. for some time now. Its open and sparse terrain of the Mojave Desert seems to invite drivers to speed, while its close proximity to Las Vegas and free-flowing alcohol attractions have led to many drivers driving under the influence or falling asleep at the wheel.

Mojave desert freeway and interstate 15 sign near Baker California.

U.S. Route 550 | Colorado

More commonly known as Million Dollar Highway (the origins of its name have long been debated), this windy road has incredible views, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. Starting outside Ouray, this highway moves down Red Mountain Pass and ends in Silverton, where its road has been carved into the mountains.

First-timers are usually surprised to find no guardrails for its steep climb and sharp turns. Although it doesn’t compare as high as other highways for accidents, it is considered the scariest based on its sheer drop, so travelers need to pay strong attention in case they take the turns and curves too fast.

Car on curvy mountain road with steep rock walls. Million Dollar Highway, near Ouray.

Driving Tips For The Season

  • Slow Down: Most accidents happen from speeding, and when you add conditions such as slick or snow-covered surfaces, it becomes even more difficult to control. Avoid risky driving behavior such as texting when driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and taking other risks.
  • Make Your Car Seen: If you’ve stopped or stalled in wintry weather, make it easier for others to spot your car by putting bright markers on the antenna or windows and keeping the interior light on. Only run your car sporadically and just long enough to stay warm to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Ensure Your Vehicle Is Checked: Tire inflation pressure and battery power both drop when the temperature drops, so make sure your tires have been pumped with the recommended inflation pressure by the car manufacturer and that your battery is properly charging. Since you’ll be driving in harsher conditions, check your tires for any damage and ensure you have a spare tire available. Make sure all your lights, windshield wipers, and cooling system are working and have been regularly checked. If you’re renting a rental car, thoroughly check any damage beforehand.
man writing on notepad or book, paper for car inspection
  • Don’t Put Winter Coats On Children in Car Seats: Winter coats can interfere with the proper harness in children’s car seats, so place thicker items such as winter coats and blankets on your child after the harness is snug and secure.
  • Familiarize Yourself With Your Car’s Safety Technologies: Check if your car has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it. These prevent your wheels from locking up when braking. Apply firm and continuous pressure to the brake pedal if you have this installed. Otherwise, you may need to pump your brakes if your wheels are locking up.
  • Stock Up: If you’re traveling through wintry conditions, it’s recommended to carry some items in case you need them for an emergency, such as a snow shovel, materials to help you get out of snow (such as kitty litter or sand), jumper cables, flashlights, and blankets. Also, make sure your gas tank or electric car battery is full or charged.
  • Check Ahead: After planning your route, keep an eye on conditions and weather updates along your travel path to ensure you can make any itinerary changes based on any anticipated disruptions.

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