According to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHSTA), in 2020 there were 1.37 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, which is the highest fatality rate since 2007.
Driving is inherently dangerous. But the likelihood of a crash can increase depending on the road you travel. A recent study reviewed data released by the NHTSA, identifying which roads have the highest rates of fatal accidents. Three of the 10 most dangerous highways, according to the data, run through California.
The researchers analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a database of all reported fatal car accidents maintained by the NHTSA. The study identifies the most dangerous highways based upon the rate of fatalities per 100/miles traveled and the total number of fatalities on a given road.
Although Interstate 95, which runs from Maine to Florida, is considered the most dangerous highway in the country, California shows up on this list more times than any other state.
Interstate 5 is the third most dangerous road in the United States and the most dangerous in California. I-5 can be particularly dangerous due to the high volume of traffic, as it runs through many major cities, including Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. Rush hour evening traffic in these three cities alone — and especially in L.A. — raise the risk level for drivers.
I-5 is also one of the most popular routes for big-rig drivers, a fact that makes the highway more dangerous for drivers and motorcycle riders.
Danger also comes in the form of old, worn infrastructure. I-5 is showing its age, as repair crews can’t keep up with the more than 58 million miles of wear and tear suffered on a daily basis. The resulting poor road conditions are often cause for traffic slowdowns, and increasingly frequent lane closures as work crews attempt to apply temporary fixes.
In California, roads all over the state are failing. 68% of California highways are in “Mediocre” or “Poor” condition and need repair according to a dated survey, and those numbers only appear to be getting worse.
Similar issues plague Interstate 40 and Interstate 80, the other two California highways which rank on the top 10 most dangerous list.