The Most Dangerous Roads in America

From crash-prone urban highways to unpaved backcountry routes, these are the most dangerous roads in the country.

It’s been said that danger lurks around every corner. This is never more true than on the road. Crashes can, and do, occur on any street, regardless of location, condition and speed limit. But not all roads are created equal. While some may have danger around the corner, others have danger all around.

Roads can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Some travel through hazardous terrain, while others are so flat and straight they become breeding grounds for speeding and unsafe driving. You’ll find dangerous roads from coast to coast — in crowded metropolises and areas so remote, they’re difficult to access.

Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous roads in America.

dangerous roads
Drivers will find steep elevations and hairpin turns on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway.

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Officially known as U.S. Route 550, local legend says Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway got its moniker after an early traveler proclaimed she’d have to be paid $1 million to drive it again. 

Winding through Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains, the roadway is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking in the country. But those stunning views don’t come easily. You’ll encounter steep cliffs and hairpin turns as you climb the highway more than 11,000 feet above sea level. If that’s not unnerving enough, the road, carved into the side of the mountains, has no guardrails. Throw in some harsh Colorado weather and the occasional rock slide and you have one of the most dangerous roads in the country, according to a list compiled by USA Today.

U.S. Route 1, Florida

Florida doesn’t have Colorado’s mountains, but it does have another lurking danger: It’s one of roughly half the country’s states without a full ban on using a handheld cellphone while driving. That might help explain why a recent study found that 17 of the 100 deadliest roads in America were in the Sunshine State, the most in the country. The research, which looked at death totals from 2015 to 2019, found Florida’s section of U.S. 1 to be the country’s second deadliest road. In total, 87 people died there over that time.

Most of the route up the eastern coast is straight as an arrow, inviting drivers to reach dangerous speeds. The southern end, known as the Overseas Highway, connects the Florida Keys to Miami. It consists of miles and miles of bridge driving, something many people find distracting or unsettling.

dangerous roads
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the world’s longest bridge over water.

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, Louisiana

At nearly 24 miles long, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway holds the Guinness World Record for longest bridge over water. Depending on how you feel about driving for a half-hour suspended over a lake, the causeway can be a thrilling or nerve-racking experience. When you get toward the middle of the bridge, where dry land is completely out of view, it will likely veer toward the latter.

Being surrounded by water also leaves drivers open to the elements: The causeway can become enveloped in fog so thick that police have to usher drivers across the lake.

I-4, Florida

Interstate 4 between Tampa and Daytona Beach was once found to be the deadliest interstate in the country, recording 1.41 fatalities per mile. One explanation for the road’s high incident rate could be its route directly through Orlando, one of the country’s premier tourist destinations. “What’s the first thing they do when they get off the plane?” Glenn Victor of the Florida Safety Council asked Fox 35 Orlando. “They rent a car that they’re not familiar with and they’re on their GPS, so they’re looking at the phone and their GPS which, of course, is a distraction while they’re driving.”

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I-45, Texas

Some roads are innately dangerous because of how they were designed or the terrain they traverse. Others are dangerous simply because of how many drivers use them – and the number of ensuing crashes they cause. The congested Galveston to Dallas section of I-45, which runs through downtown Dallas, was recently named the deadliest road in America by Budget Direct. Citing heavy traffic and driver complacency, the company found I-45 averages 56.5 fatal accidents for every 100 miles of roadway.

I-10, Arizona

Interstate 10 spans the width of the country, stretching from Jacksonville, Fla., to Santa Monica, Calif., but it’s the roughly 300-mile stretch through Arizona that has proven most foreboding. The highway’s long, straight stretches through the desert are hot spots of high speeds, aggressive driving, illegal passing and inattentive drivers. Nearly 500 fatalities were recorded on Arizona’s I-10 over a recent six-year period.

dangerous roads
One study found I-15, shown here in Las Vegas, to be one of the country’s most dangerous roads.

I-15, Nevada and California

The 181-mile stretch of Interstate 15 connecting Las Vegas and Los Angeles is a straight, well-maintained roadway, conducive to safe traveling. And yet, it routinely ranks as one of the country’s most dangerous roads. One study looked at data over a 15-year span and found it to be the deadliest roadway in the country.

The problem isn’t the road – it’s the drivers. Motorists often speed on I-15 while traveling through the openness of the Mojave Desert. The fact they are likely coming or going from the party city of Las Vegas doesn’t help either. The same study found that nearly a quarter of the crashes occurring on that section of the I-15 involved a drunk driver.

I-285, Georgia

Atlanta’s I-285 is known as “The Perimeter” because it circles the city in a 64-mile loop. It connects all the area’s interstates and highways and, in doing so, welcomes an onslaught of traffic, including tractor-trailers. The combination of congestion, sharp turns, interchanges and large trucks has turned I-285 into a lethal stretch of pavement. In 2015, Vox calculated the road’s fatality rate at 3.5 per every 10 miles, which, at the time, made it the country’s deadliest interstate.

U.S. Route 17, South Carolina

Winding through forests, marshlands and oceanside towns, South Carolina’s Highway 17 is one of the most scenic drives in the southeast. But looks can be deceiving. The road is filled with an endless number of sharp, blind turns and narrow lanes. The area is also home as well as an abundance of wildlife, creating another potential driving hazard.

All told, U.S. 17 in South Carolina is one picturesque – but perilous – drive. In fact, one study named it the country’s most dangerous highway for summertime travel.

dangerous roads
Alaska’s Dalton Highway has been immortalized in the hit television show “Ice Road Truckers.”

Dalton Highway, Alaska

The James Dalton Highway stretches 414 miles through the Alaskan wilderness from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, located on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The dirt-and-gravel roadway was constructed in 1974 to help facilitate the oil industry and to this day is mostly used to transport oil.

The Dalton traverses through some of Alaska’s most treacherous terrain, including forests, tundras, steep grades and the Yukon River. Traveling along the road is so dramatic, in fact, it’s the focus of the hit television show “Ice Road Truckers.” But what makes the Dalton Highway particularly dangerous is its remoteness. There are only three towns along the entire route, which includes a 240-mile stretch without a single gas station or rest stop. Should something happen to you along the way, it may take a long time to get help.

Highway 2, Montana

Montana is the country’s fourth-largest state by size, but the eighth-smallest in population. This means you can drive for a quite some time before coming across anyone else. Open roads can lead to pleasant drives, but they can also be quite dangerous. Nowhere is this more true than on Montana’s Highway 2, which stretches east-west across the northern end of the state.

The roadway maintains a 70 mph speed limit, even as it winds through some mountainous regions. And while the scenic nature may be eye-popping, it also means you’re far away from the nearest help. In 2020, the median EMS call in Montana took a total of 45 minutes. That number only gets higher when first responders have to travel to and from remote Highway 2.

Road to Hana, Hawaii

Driving around the islands of Hawaii seems like a journey through paradise, but be careful what you wish for, especially if you’re traveling along Maui’s Road to Hana.

The 52-mile road connects Kahului to Hana along the island’s rugged eastern shoreline. And though the highway offers picturesque views of mountaintops, lush greenery and crashing waves, the Road to Hana is far from a luxurious drive. Along the way, you’ll encounter a whopping 620 turns and 59 narrow bridges. The route requires such caution it takes motorists anywhere from two to four hours to complete. That’s why the Hawaii Tourism Authority recommends traveling with a permitted tour company instead.

Have you driven on any of these dangerous roads? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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80 Thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Roads in America

  1. I for sure thought I’d find at least one road from NY on here. People drive on the Long Island Expressway (495) and southern state parkway like it’s the Autobahn!

  2. Road to Hana was definitely at the bottom of my favorite memories of Maui. Carsick the entire time! Fellow travelers who had traveled “the Road” before, said “never again”.

  3. Road to Hana is a true white-knuckle ride! It was very adventuresome but not for the faint of heart. Best to go from Kahului to Kaupo as you’ll be on the inside rather than the outside, unless you’re completely fearless!

  4. My husband and I travelled the road to Hana in 1986. He really enjoyed the drive because I was so frightened I couldn’t speak all the way there or all the way back.

  5. US1 in Florida, or in any other state, is a federal highway, not an interstate. Yes, it goes from Maine to Florida, through all those states, but it’s not part of the Interstate Highway System.

    Using cell phones and distracted driving are only parts of the story with that road. It goes through open areas, very congested shopping areas, residential areas and seemingly never-ending construction. It changes from a two-lane highway to six or more lanes in some areas and has lots of traffic lights.

  6. I did the road to Hana in 2017 with a guided bus tour. I felt very safe. However experiencing it I knew I’d never do it alone
    I traveled I-10 in Arizona , Rte 1 in Florida. Parts of I-17. I-95 New York to Florida.

  7. I did the road to Hana in 2017 with a guided bus tour. I felt very safe. However experiencing it I knew I’d never do it alone
    I traveled I-10 in Arizon. Rte 1 in Florida. Parts of I-17. I-95 New York to Florida.

    1. Granted the new Kosciusko bridge is a beautiful and is an big improvement for that section of the BQE. However that is largely negated by the start of the project to rebuild the cantilevered multi deck portion under the Brooklyn Esplanade. As a stop gap measure to forestall collapse, lanes in that section will be reduced to two ausing massive delays. Estimated time for completion of the replacement of this cantilevered section of the BQE is 10 years.

  8. I just remembered…There is a road in Spain that takes you to top of Ronda, where house hang 5,000 feet over the edge of cliffs. We took a bus there, andit was so close to the edge that when you looked over the cliff, you saw wrecked cars at the bottom.

    1. I drove that road at night while it was under reconstruction. I had no idea how dangerous it was until I got back to my hotel and described my trip to the concierge. He was quite amazed I made it back alive.

    2. I so agree Barbara. The road to Ronda was the scariest road I have ever been on-my husband drove and my heart was in my throat the whole time! When we went to Maui to the road to Hana, I was pleasantly surprised-nothing compared to Ronda! Also the ride to the rock of Gibraltar was harrowing too!

  9. The bridge across Lake Pontchartrain was mesmerizing, like the Miami to Key West, but I never felt unnerved until I drove to the top of Pike’s Peak!

  10. Not one mention of New York City roads? The Brooklyn Queens Expressway (Interstate 278). It is challenging and nerve wracking going from ground level to elevated and back, winding around buildings, a major truck route, no shoulders, sudden on and off ramps, lanes that disappear without warning, and innumerable potholes. To use a phrase from a song that applies: “There’s a tombstone every mile”

  11. You forgot to mention Highway I 95. On the road between New Haven and new York city there is seldom a trip when there is not an accident

  12. We have driven I-4 between Tampa, FL and Dayton Beach through Orlando/Kissimmee many times and we found that distracted drivers not paying attention to driving to be the worst problem. Glad we don’t live in Tampa Bay Area any longer.

  13. Skip the Road to Hana altogether, even WITH a tour company. We did it with a small tour bus and the experience can be described as 4 hours of heart-in-your-throat anxiety with absolutely NOTHING too see when you get to Hana….. And then do it all over again on the ride back!

    1. so true! very disappointed after driving very slowly to get to Hana. Hawaii should pave the southern route also. Might be quicker way to get back . Had a rental car, so didn’t want to chance going on unpaved roads. Would never recommend it to anyone.

  14. It took me 4 hours to drive the Hana Highway on Maui. To do so I had to take a Dramamine to control my nausea (and it worked) in both directions. I think the fact that I was driving on a curve and my eye could see the curves coming up added to me feeling nauseous. It was incredibly beautiful and something I will never forget.

  15. My wife & I drove Maui’s Road to Hana a few years ago, going roughly north to south. When we ran out of paved road after Ke‘Anae, we asked a local at his mailbox if it was safe and/or sensible to drive the rest of the road around the southeast part of the island, and whether our rental car could be damaged or put out of commission by the road. He said to drive slowly and watch for potential hazards. We did, and the scenery was beautiful. (The northern, paved part of the road, through Ke‘Anae, may have been more dangerous than the southern, unpaved part, because of the many cars traveling in both directions. All hairpin curves must be taken VERY slowly, because you can’t see far enough to know what you’ll encounter!)

    1. I drove the Hana Road at night, after our flight was delayed. It was actually better at night since I could see headlights coming around corners. Still a wild – and beautiful – ride!

    2. Ditto!!! Those hairpin turns were sacary as all hell!!! No doubt, the mountain views and visiting/swimming @ the Seven Falls of Hana, was memorable, but will never take the road to Hana again!

    1. Of course. The Southern State Parkway has to be among the worst. The most aggressive, inconsiderate, dangerous drivers imaginable.

        1. It had been a long time since we had driven to Florida and I was astounded by the way people drive. Coming back, on I 95, through Virginia up until the Mass line was some of the most dangerous driving I have ever experienced. I have done driving in my life from the east coast, west coast, north and south, all over the country and we had so many near misses on this stretch of I 95, that I lost count. All I could think was that these people have a death wish!!! No one ever should say a word about Massachusetts drivers again!!!

        2. I was fully expecting the Taconic to be on this list and was very surprised it wasn’t. Once, in the dark in winter we were driving south, in the right lane, and suddenly, coming TOWARD us in the left lane was someone going north doing about 95. Terrifying.

          1. To be clear, because I realize I wasn’t, the car going north was going in the wrong direction in the south lanes.

    2. My hubby and I and two friends drove the million dollar highway in 2001. We made my hubby drive because the rest of us were too scared to drive it! No guardrails was frightening. He did a great job, though, driving it. Beautiful scenery all around, but you don’t dare move your eyes off the road to view it, for too long.

      1. I don’t remember ever being more scared driving than the part of that road out of Oure until Silverton. Light snow (1st week of May 1996), wet road, far too many RVs headed the other way. I pretty much had to pry my hands from the steering wheel when I completed it. Never again will I drive it that direction which puts you on the outside, no-guardrail lane!

      2. You got the reason why the ‘million dollar highway’ in Colorado got its name wrong. The road base gravel for this road was crshed from local mine tailings, and it is said that there is at least a million dollars worth of gold and silver in every mile of that gravel. And that comment was made when the price f gold was less than $40/ounce ! If you want to get an higher pucker factor than any of these roads provide–try either the ‘Oh My God’ road between Central City and Idaho Springs, Colorado, or the Imogene Pass road between Ouray and Telluride, or the Royal Flush road which takes you to the top of hahn’s Peak near Hahn’s Peak, Colorado.

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