That’s a question that policymakers, states, and your car insurance company are constantly trying to answer to provide driving safety tips and keep auto insurance coverage rates down. It’s not easy. That’s because there are so many factors that play a part in making dangerous roads.
Add to that human error and even the safest routes become deadly based on behavior behind the wheel.
Not to mention the risks of bad weather and distractions from inside the car. Let’s start with a brief look at a few roads almost no one in America would argue are risky.
Meet America’s Most Dangerous Roads
The American Automobile Association compiled facts and figures that show certain roads to be among the nation’s most threatening. The dangerous roads list starts with a route in Colorado that’s become known as the Million Dollar Highway.
Normally, that would be a compliment. You’d expect the view to be breathtaking — and it is. The locals named it that, according to legend, because some driver years ago proclaimed that she’d have to be paid that much to travel that route again. It’s that scary. The accident statistics back up that claim. It’s a twisted road that hugs the Rocky Mountains on one side and drops steeply off on the other side.
The Million Dollar Highway, located along U.S. Route 550, is only one example of the 12 on the AAA list. Between them, they illustrate some of the many risks you might encounter in your own travels, even if you never come near these dangerous highways and byways.
Here are some of the leading risks you might face behind the wheel every day.
Traffic Congestion on the Road
If there’s any good news here, it’s that congestion doesn’t usually lead to fatal road accidents. If you can only get your auto up to ten miles an hour before having to brake hard, your personal safety and that of your passengers probably aren’t at risk.
However, the threat of fender benders or accidents caused by road rage can be high on such a route. And the situation can be worse if there are stretches where speeds increase. A patch of I-45 in Texas between Galveston and Dallas is called, by one source, the deadliest road in America due to the congestion.
Large rigs and trucks towing trailers may need special space considerations.
Terrain Surrounding the Road
The so-called Million Dollar Highway mentioned earlier earns its deadly reputation based on its geography. This truly dangerous road features steep cliffs, hairpin turns, and dizzying mountain passes with no guardrails.
Poor Engineering on the Road
Sometimes the problem is how the road was designed. You’ve probably driven on highways that suddenly grabbed your attention and made your heart race for all the wrong reasons. For instance, U.S. Route 17 in South Carolina is a picturesque traipse through ocean-side towns. An abundance of narrow lanes and sharp, blind turns has made it deadly for many, according to the AAA list.
Same with I-285 in Georgia. The constant merging, the lane changes, and congestion team up to prove deadly as this insane highway circles Atlanta.
Speeding on the Road is Dangerous
A dangerous road can be the opposite of congestion. When on this kind of road, you don’t usually see much traffic (or police cars), and you can reach dangerous speeds. That’s why both I-15 between L.A. and Las Vegas and I-10 in Arizona made this list. These highways are straight, clear, and easy. Too easy. Too much driving freedom can mean too much fatal speed.
Remote Roads Can Be Dangerous Roads
It’s not only that you have long, lonely stretches where speed is a danger. Sometimes the road’s remoteness is an added risk. The James Dalton Highway through wild Alaska made the AAA list because you can be hundreds of miles from the nearest gas station—or hospital. Recklessness, boredom, and excessive speed can be tempting — and deadly — out here.
Overconfidence While You’re Driving on the Road
You might never find yourself on the James Dalton Highway or the Million Dollar Highway, where you could literally fall off a mountain. However, your road can give you the much more common (and just as deadly) risk of overconfidence.
You’re on a quiet residential street or a local highway you’ve traveled countless times. You let yourself do a little daydreaming. Or you talk or text on your phone. Or get distracted by your passengers, your radio, or just your own thoughts.
That, too, is when accidents happen. When you least expect them. The moral is to always drive defensively and keep your eyes on the road wherever you drive.
Find Affordable Auto Insurance before Traveling Your Next Potentially Dangerous Road
Wherever you’re headed next, make sure you have the auto insurance coverage you need. Call your independent insurance agent at Freeway Insurance at (800) 777-5620 or get a quick online car insurance quote. You can also find a Freeway office near you to meet with a knowledgeable agent.