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When you have somewhere to be, sitting in highway traffic can feel like the most hopeless situation. You’re trapped. And when you do move, it’s inch by inch in that frustrating, stop-and-go nonsense.
Then your inner Road Rage Monster emerges, and you scream — desperate for someone to miraculously part the sea of cars for you while everyone else watches with envy.
Sure, getting stuck in traffic is unfortunate, but it’s not the worst thing to happen to you. After all, you’re still alive!
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “a total of 35,092 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.”
The number of fatal car crashes — not traffic jams — places a main road in the Worst Highways category.
Read this article to learn about the Top 10 Most Dangerous Highways by State in the United States to see if your state makes the list. Then, file away some tips on how to be a safer driver.
If you’re also on the lookout for car insurance rates, click here to use our comparison tool!
Top 10 Most Dangerous Highways
#10 – Florida
Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 9
Worst Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 49
Florida’s highways might be the least dangerous of the Top 10, but the Sunshine State has a lot of work to do before we can consider its highways a safe place to drive.
Kudos to their bridges being in decent shape, but an increase in federal funding would help make Florida’s highways much safer.
#9 – New Hampshire
Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient and IIHS Death Rates: 14
Worst Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 51
New Hampshire, why aren’t you wearing your seatbelt?
It’s the oldest car rule in the book: Buckle up for safety! Buckling up could lower car accident fatalities statewide and help drivers and passengers alike.
#8 – Wyoming
Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 2
Worst Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates: 51
It looks like the federal government’s got Wyoming’s back, but whew…those death rates are scary!
To put things in perspective, Wyoming lost 650 people to car crashes over a five-year period. This number of deaths seems to correlate with the state’s 23.05 percent average of drivers without seatbelts.
Listen, it’s not just “click it or ticket,” people. It’s “click it or risk your life.”
#7 – Massachusetts
Best Ranking Factor: IIHS Death Rates: 2
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient and Federal Funding: 50
Congrats to the Bay State for keeping those death rates low!
However, it’s interesting to note that the Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts (score of 49) is a close second to the state’s worst categories. With scores like these, it’s amazing that the death rates in Massachusetts are so low.
#6 – North Carolina
Best Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 19
Worst Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 43
Aside from Federal Funding, North Carolina also scores too high for Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (38). Sure, the state’s Highway Deaths score isn’t as steep, but a score of 19 is far from perfect.
In fact, all of North Carolina’s categories could use a facelift, including Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts (20), Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (33), and IIHS Death Rates (36).
#5 – West Virginia
Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 8
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 46
It’s nice to see a single digit score again. However, over a five-year period, the Mountain State had 207 Fatal Crashes per 1,000 Miles Driven. Their Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (score of 39) might have something to do with it.
According to IIHS, “speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2005.”
This statistic refers to total deaths across the country, but West Virginia certainly isn’t doing the U.S. any favors.
#4 – Pennsylvania
Best Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled and IIHS Death Rates: 23
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 46
Something isn’t right if your lowest score is 23 in two categories.
Perhaps Pennsylvania’s death rates relate to their bridge issues, but the Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (score of 42) and Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts (score of 30) are also contributing factors.
Please buckle up and stop speeding!
#3 – South Carolina
Best Ranking Factor: Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts: 22
Worst Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate and IIHS Death Rates: 44
Like Pennsylvania, the Palmetto State’s lowest and highest scores are not far enough apart. South Carolina drivers need to be more aware of the speed limit, and they should do so with their seatbelts buckled!
Let’s hope South Carolina can move up their ranking next year.
#2 – Arizona
Best Ranking Factor: Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient: 8
Worst Ranking Factor: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate: 47
Arizona, we’re glad to see your bridges aren’t too bad, but you’re still #2 on the list. With a total score of 207, all of your other categories are sky-high.
The state’s ranking for Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate seems to correlate with the rest of the categories. Drivers in Arizona need to be aware of — and commit to following — the rules of the road to avoid highway fatalities.
#1 – Louisiana
Best Ranking Factor: Federal Funding: 19
Worst Ranking Factor: Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled: 47
Louisiana, with a total score of 218, you win first place for the Most Dangerous Highways! Sorry, there’s no prize for this “achievement.”
Louisiana’s other scores include: Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate (35), Percent of Drivers w/o Seatbelts (41), Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient (37), and IIHS Death Rates (39).
All of these issues have contributed to highway deaths in Louisiana. Drivers, please make 2017 the year you drive smart. Careless driving isn’t worth the risk!
Points of Interest
Based on the total score of each state, Montana, with a total of 182, missed our Top 10 list by only one point. Eleven points separate Louisiana (#1) and Arizona (#2), which is the biggest discrepancy between two consecutive state totals.
The other eight states range up to eight points from each other.
Five out of 10 states have single-digit categorical scores, with Massachusetts being the only state with two scores like this: a 9 in Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled and a 2 in IIHS Death Rates.
The category in which no state got below a 20 is — you guessed it — Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts! Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate is the category with the highest total score: 360. Needless to say, these categories are definitely related.
It’s also interesting that six of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Highways by State are on the East Coast. East Coasters, please pay particular attention to the safety tips below.
Highway Safety Tips
Every state has room to grow when it comes to safer highways.
If your state is mentioned above, it’s especially important that you do what you can to protect yourself and others on the road.
Safe driving might sound simple in theory, but everyone could use a refresher on how to drive well on a busy road, whether you’re a newbie or have been driving for years.
Drive smart using these 10 safety tips:
- Get enough sleep – Adequate sleep makes you a more alert driver.
- Remember to buckle up – The seatbelt wrinkling your shirt is trivial when your safety is on the line.
- Don’t drive under the influence – It doesn’t make you invincible.
- Don’t drive distracted – Don’t let cell phones or rowdy passengers interfere with your ability to drive.
- Follow the speed limit – Don’t go too fast or too slow; both can cause a crash.
- Don’t ride that car’s tail – Be hyper-aware of this tendency in stop-and-go traffic.
- Do what you need to do during long trips – Stop frequently, switch drivers, or find somewhere to sleep for the night.
- Be respectful of other drivers – Angry interactions can breed danger.
- Pull over – If you have car trouble, pull over as far away from the road as you can.
- Use your headlights – Switch them on when dusk approaches and when it’s raining or snowing.
If we all focus less on the inconveniences of traffic jams and more on how to drive responsibly, we can put these highways on the Safest list and — more importantly — we can prevent crash-related injuries and deaths!
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To compile information for this study, we collected data from the last five years in the following categories:
- Interstate Speeding Fatalities per Mile of Interstate
- Percent of Drivers without Seatbelts
- Highway Bridges Rated Obsolete or Deficient
- Highway Deaths per 1,000 Highway Miles Traveled
- Federal Funding
- IIHS Death Rates
The information we collected came from the following sources:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Federal Highway Administration
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Our rankings for each category go from one to 51 as we include the District of Columbia. The lowest score represents the state with the safest highways, while the highest score represents the state with the most dangerous highways in each respective category.
You can find a chart with the complete rankings below.
Complete U.S. Rankings
|State||Interstate Speeding Deaths||Drivers w/o Seatbelts||Obsolete Highway Bridges||Highway Deaths||Federal Funding||Death Rate||Total Score||Final Rank|
|District of Columbia||43||18||51||28||7||1||148||32|