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

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The holiday season may be a rush, but that doesn’t mean driving has to be, especially if you’re about to hit one of the most dangerous highways in the U.S. More than 100 million people will rely on roads and highways to get to their loved ones or to get to their year-end vacation destinations over the holidays, but not all highways are created equal. Despite the conditions and speed limits, some roads are more prone to accidents than others.

Colorado Highway 550. Famous multi-million dollar highway near Durango, Colorado, United States.

Officials are stressing the importance of slowing down this season to make sure you can get where you want to go safely and enjoy the upcoming holiday season. While some states will struggle with winter conditions affecting roads, speeding is the leading cause of accidents in the US, and it’s a deadly combination when combined with roads that are vulnerable to other conditions and circumstances.

It is no surprise that when conditions change, weather-related crashes account for 21% of all vehicle crashesaccording to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), which analyzed the average between 2007 and 2016. With precipitation accounts for 46% of this number and snow accounts for 18%, weather is likely to affect driving routes this season and accidents are more likely when roads are wet from rain or snow.

A young woman calls for help or assistance in a snow-covered car.

Below are 5 of the most dangerous roads and highways in the US and the ones you want to use with caution this holiday season.

Interstate 95 | Florida

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

Florida is one of the last few states to not ban cell phone texting, which may point to reasons why drivers are distracted. Other parts of the highway, such as the Northeast, also see severe accidents in the winter, while Virginia reports that nearly 90 percent of accidents occur in unclear conditions such as rain or snow.

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View of four lanes of traffic on 95 North with Sunpass and Florida Turnpike toll signs toward Orlando and Miami

Interstate 4 | Florida

Florida ranks as the number three most dangerous state for traffic accidents, and Interstate 4 helps it earn that name. Running between Tampa and Daytona Beach and directly through Orlando, it is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the US, having the most accidents per mile of any other road. Orlando is considered one of the top tourist destinations in the country, which means a lot of tourists and new people hitting the roads.

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

Interstate 45 | Texas

Texas ranks just ahead of California as the number one state for the most dangerous traffic accidents. I-45 from Dallas to Galveston, passing through Houston, is notorious for its traffic and congestion, with drivers speeding, texting while driving and getting behind the wheel after drinking.

In true Texas spirit, even its speed limit is higher, as Texas has the only highway in the country that allows 85 mph (Texas Highway 130). Portions of Interstate 45 can reach speeds of 75 mph, which is typical mph in the Western United States, while the Eastern United States typically maintains 65 to 70 mph.

Panoramic aerial view of downtown and Interstate 45, 69 freeway interchange, massive interchange, stack interchange and elevated interchange at sunset on the southeast side of Houston, Texas

Interstate 15 | Nevada and California

Better known as the Las Vegas Freeway, this road has been considered one of the most dangerous roads in the US for some time. Its open and sparse Mojave Desert terrain seems to invite drivers to speed, while its proximity to Las Vegas and free-flowing alcohol attractions have led to many drivers driving drunk or falling asleep behind the wheel.

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Mojave Desert Freeway and Interstate 15 sign near Baker California.

US Route 550 | Colorado

Better known as the Million Dollar Highway (the origin of its name has long been debated), this windy road has incredible views, but is not for the faint of heart. Starting outside Ouray, this highway runs down Red Mountain Pass and ends in Silverton, where its path is carved into the mountains.

First timers are usually surprised to find no guardrails because of its steep climb and sharp turns. Although it doesn’t compare as highly with other highways for accidents, it is considered the scariest based on its large drop, so travelers should pay close attention in case they take the turns and curves too quickly.

A car on a winding mountain road with steep rock faces.  Million Dollar Highway, near Ouray.

Driving tips for the season

  • Slow down: Most accidents happen due to speeding, and when you add in conditions like slippery or snowy surfaces, control becomes even more difficult. Avoid risky driving behaviors such as texting while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and taking other risks.
  • Make your car visible: If you’re stopped or stuck in winter weather, make it easier for others to spot your car by placing bright markers on the antenna or windows and leaving the interior lights on. Start your car only sporadically and long enough to keep it warm to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure your vehicle is inspected: Both tire pressure and battery power drop when the temperature drops, so make sure your tires are inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure and that your battery is charging properly. Since you will be driving in more difficult conditions, check your tires for damage and make sure you have a spare available. Make sure all your lights, wipers and cooling system are working and checked regularly. If you are renting a car, check carefully for any damages beforehand.
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man writing on notebook or book, car inspection paper
  • Do not bring winter coats to children in Car seats: Winter coats can get in the way of a proper belt in child car seats, so place thicker items like winter coats and blankets over your child once the belt is tight and secure.
  • Get to know your car’s safety technologies: Check if your car has an anti-lock braking system and learn how to use it. They keep your wheels from locking up when braking. Apply firm and continuous pressure to the brake pedal, if you have one. Otherwise, you may need to pump the brakes if your wheels lock up.
  • I stock: If you are traveling in winter conditions, it is recommended that you carry some items in case you need them in an emergency, such as a snow shovel, materials to help you get out of the snow (such as cat 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, monitor conditions and weather updates along your travel route to ensure you can make route changes based on anticipated disruptions.

Warning for passengers: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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