California Travel Guide

This Is the Most Dangerous Highway in the United States

PHOTO: formulanone / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Life is a (dangerous) highway.

A tanker truck carrying around 7,500 gallons of gasoline overturned early this morning on Interstate-5 near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The truck swerved, landing on its side, while avoiding a stopped vehicle. And while no one was injured, thankfully, the crash is certainly emblematic of how dangerous this particular highway can be.

L.A. traffic is a notorious West Coast villain as it is, but a recent study by ASecureLife.com (a security website dedicated to keeping you informed on how to stay safe and secure in many aspects of life) and based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that there’s yet another reason to be nervous while driving your car on those Los Angeles highways this summer—specifically, Interstate 5. This behemoth of a freeway, which covers approximately 800 miles of California, has officially been documented as the U.S. highway with the highest number of deaths during the summer months.

The study, based on information taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, analyzed traffic fatalities in the months of May through September from 2015 to 2017. Overall, the number of deaths in each state correlated with the size of the state—in other words, the bigger the state, the more deaths. California proved to have the most dangerous single highway with 192 fatalities on the I-5. But Texas had the most combined deaths (444) on its three most dangerous highways (154 fatalities on its I-10 freeway, 151 on the I-20, and 139 on the I-35). The one exception to the “bigger the state, the higher the death toll” was Florida, which ranked very high at 160 fatalities on its US-1 highway, despite not being as big in size as California and Texas. That said, smaller states aren’t too far behind. Georgia’s I-75 had 111 fatalities and Arizona’s racetrack-of-a-freeway (that I personally grew up using and can attest to it Being Frightening), the I-10, had 100 fatalities. The other states all fell below 100 fatalities, with Tennessee at 85 on its I-40 and Alabama at 83 on its I-65.

Interstate 5 in California.Ken Lund / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Why Are They More Dangerous in the Summer?

Summer has its own specific list of reasons as to why roads are more dangerous. The study cites family road trips, as well as an obvious surge in outdoor “summer fun” activities like beach days or parties. Another reason for the summer surge in accidents is the fact that more teens are on the roads due to school not being in session and the crashes usually occur when they’re speeding, drinking and driving, or generally just driving while distracted. The study found that teens are most likely to cause crashes during the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and there are increases on fatalities on the weeks and at night.

Be Safe Out There

Especially during the summer months but truly all year round, it’s important to remember to be extra mindful when driving your car extremely fast down a large road where 1,000 other cars are also driving extremely fast—which should come as no surprise and yet so many are careless each and every day. Know, depending on where you live, which days are the “riskiest” travel days and keep your car up-to-date on everything that needs fixing on it (don’t skip that oil change!). For more summer travel tips for surviving the nation’s most dangerous freeways, the NHTSA has you covered.