Accidents happen everywhere. But when you look at U.S. road safety statistics, you start noticing trends. Some states — and some roads in particular — see more accidents and deaths than others. Knowing where being behind the wheel is most dangerous can help you on your next road trip. Let's dive in.
What States Have the Most Traffic Deaths?
Looking at data from 2010 to 2020, we can see that these 10 states have the most traffic deaths:
If we take a moment to think about it, this ranking makes sense. With just a few exceptions, these are the states with the most people (and drivers). Thus, it makes sense that they'd have the most accidents (and deaths) year after year.
Top 10 States with Highest Rate of Traffic Deaths
Perhaps a better way to look at this issue is by taking into account each state's population. Based on the same 2010-2020 data, these states have the most traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants:
As you may know, most of these states aren't among the most populous. Wyoming, for example, is the least populated, with less than 600,000 residents. Yet, it's high up on this list.
Another interesting fact is that Mississippi consistently tops high-death-rate rankings. In fact, Mississippi was the state with the most deaths per 100,000 people in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. That's a clear sign that Mississippi is the most dangerous state for driving!
What Roads Are Most Deadly in the U.S.?
If you're curious like us, you'll also want to know what roads have the most accidents (and deaths) across the country. Sadly, since each state has its own road safety agency, finding a definitive ranking isn't always easy.
Fortunately, though, we dug deep and were able to find that data for you. These are the roads with the most deaths per mile driven, and the location that saw the most deaths:
I-4: Orlando, FL
I-45: Houston, TX
U.S. Highway-192: Kissimmee, FL
I-17: Phoenix, AZ
U.S. Highway-92: Tampa, FL
I-30: Dallas, TX
I-95: Jacksonville, FL
I-19: Sahuarita, AZ
I-85: Charlotte, NC
I-5: Los Angeles, CA
I-10: Houston and El Paso, TX
I-20: Dallas, TX
I-35W: Fort Worth, TX
I-24: Nashville, TN
I-75: Atlanta, GA
The vast majority of the most deadly roads are interstates. It makes sense: dozens of thousands of drivers use them every year. Even when they're not longer than a couple of hundred miles, they're located in densely populated cities and are the main throughways of metropolitan areas.
5 Factors That Make Roads More Dangerous
So what makes some roads more dangerous than others? These five factors help us answer that question:
Highly congested. More vehicles on the road mean more accidents, statistically speaking. Always pay extra attention when driving during rush hour.
Sharp turns on the road. Driving on a windy mountain road requires more focus and control over the vehicle than driving down a flat interstate.
Blind intersections. The place where two highways meet is especially dangerous if you don't have adequate visibility.
Outdated infrastructure. Roads with lots of potholes, pavement breakup, confusing signage, and missing guardrails pose extra challenges to drivers.
Learn to Drive Safely on the Most Dangerous Roads
If you have to travel on one of these roads, don't worry. When you take a defensive driving course, you learn to be prepared for all eventualities. From learning how to share the road with aggressive drivers to driving safely in winter conditions, these classes will teach you real-life skills you probably never learned during driver's ed. You'll be ready for your next road trip.