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Traveler Beware: These Roads Are the Worst

Traveler Beware: These Roads Are the Worst

While you might not consider yourself a risk-taker, you’re taking a risk any time you enter a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) listed 2020 as the deadliest year on American highways since 2007. Some roads and areas are more dangerous than others.

Today, we’re looking at some of the worst roads in the United States. Unfortunately, you might not be able to avoid many of them!

Who Has the Worst Roads in the USA?

Everyone says their state has the worst roads in the United States or the world. Data makes it easy to sort through the dramatics to find the truth. According to a recent report, Rhode Island and California were the states with the worst roads. The research indicates that 40% (Rhode Island) and 37% (California) of the streets were in poor condition.

The Deadliest Interstate In America

If you’ve driven through these areas, it’s likely no surprise. Potholes litter the streets, making it challenging to enjoy a drive. If you live in either of these states, no one should argue when you say that your state has the worst roads! 

Who Has the Best Roads in the USA?

If you want to move to a state with smoother roads, consider Idaho or New Hampshire. A recent report claims these states had some of the best roads in the country. In fact, 7% (Idaho) and 8% (New Hampshire) of the streets were in poor condition. New Hampshire takes it a step further, with 74% of its roads in good condition.

Living in a state with good roads means relaxing a bit while driving. You won’t have to dodge massive potholes on the highway or worry about the damage they can cause to your vehicle. We’ve seen tire blowouts, bent rims, and other vehicular damage due to poor road conditions.

Pro Tip: Plan the ultimate road trip and avoid dangerous roads by using our guide on How to Use RV Trip Wizard to Plan an RV Road Trip.

Interstate views driving into city
Road tripping across the USA is fun, but there are some dangerous roads you should avoid.

The 7 Worst Roads in the USA

There’s a chance that you live near or travel on one of these awful roads. Depending on your route, you may have no option to avoid driving on them. However, knowing this information is good so you can travel safely during your adventures.

Interstate 95

Interstate 95 is a 1,908 miles long highway stretching from South Florida to the tip of Maine. If you’ve ever driven on this awful road, you know how hectic it can be. Traffic can be incredibly congested, and drivers seem to have little regard for other vehicles in some areas. In 2019, the NHTSA revealed that it was the most dangerous highway in the country.

During the NHTSA’s research, they discovered that the highway experienced 284 fatalities, which equates to 14.88 fatalities per 100 miles of road. If your travels take you through Boston, New York, Baltimore, Jacksonville, or Miami, drive safely.

Interstate 20

An interstate doesn’t have to be expansive to be dangerous. Interstate 20 stretches from Florence, South Carolina, to Kent, Texas. It covers 1,539 miles and has the second-highest rate of fatalities per mile. The interstate saw 208 fatalities over the 1,500+ miles, which equates to 13.52 fatalities per 100 miles.

You’ll want to ensure you’re staying vigilant when driving through the southeast. This interstate runs through Atlanta, Birmingham, Fort Worth, and Dallas. If you remain alert and are a good driver, you should have no trouble. However, it’s essential to be aware of others and that you prepare yourself for the chaos.

Woman driving on worst roads during big rain storm
Avoid driving during poor weather conditions to stay safe.

Interstate 5

Interstate 5 runs along the entirety of the west coast of the United States. It starts at the United States border with Mexico, continues north through California and Oregon, and ends where the state of Washington meets Canada. It covers 1,381 miles and is severely hazardous. 

Over 1,300+ miles, Interstate 5 recorded 186 fatalities, which amounts to 13.47 fatalities per 100 miles. The interstate travels through several cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Seattle. Some say the west is best, but that might not be an accurate statement regarding the roads.

Interstate 75

Interstate 75 starts near Miami, Florida, in Hialeah and snakes up the southeast. It cuts through the midwest to Sault St. Marie, Michigan, to the Canadian border. It covers 1,786 miles and passes cities like Tampa, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Detroit.

If you’re planning to travel this interstate, you should know that it experienced 237 fatalities over almost 1,800 miles. That averages to 13.27 fatalities per 100 miles. Ensure you are a good defensive driver and stay alert. Driving through Atlanta can be chaotic, so find a lane and stay there until you clear the city.

Interstate 35

Interstates in the middle of the country aren’t exempt from danger. Interstate 35 runs through San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin and covers 1,569 miles. When driving on this route, it takes you into Tornado Alley. So not only do you have to watch out for impaired drivers, but also funnel clouds and treacherous storms. 

The interstate experienced 197 fatalities along its length, which averages 12.56 per 100 miles. Since much of this area is flatland, it can be tempting to push the accelerator closer to the floorboard. However, keeping your speed in check will help ensure you arrive safely at your destination.

Woman checking blindspot while driving on road trip.
Stay on high alert when cruising down the interstate.

Interstate 15

Interstate 15 is another popular west coast interstate. It runs for 1,433 miles from San Diego north to Alberta, Canada. It passes through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. The interstate experienced 158 fatalities over 1,400+ miles, equating to 11.02 deaths per 100 miles.

This interstate serves the cities of San Diego, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Helena. The elevation changes can be drastic in some spots, so ensure your brakes are in good working order. You should also keep an eye on the weather as the climate at higher elevations can be unpredictable. 

Interstate 40

One of the most popular interstates in the country is Interstate 40. This beast of an interstate travels 2,559 miles from the west coast to the east coast. Interstate 40 replaced Route 66 and followed a similar route. Driving the entire 2,500+ miles, you’ll pass California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

However, despite its massive length, it’s not an interstate you want to take lightly. It experienced 253 fatalities and averaged 9.89 fatalities per 100 miles. There are some impressive changes in elevation and scenery along the route. You’ll experience everything from the Arizona and California deserts, the farmlands of the midwest, and the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Cars lined up on one of the worst roads at sunset
Avoid driving at night to ensure your safety on your road trip.

How to Stay Safe While Driving on the Worst Roads

Safety is essential, whether preparing for a road trip or driving on your commute to work. It would help if you kept a few things in mind to be as safe as possible.

Slow Down on the Worst Roads

The NHTSA reports that 11,000+ people died in speed-related accidents in 2020. Speeding typically only cuts off a few minutes but puts you at a greater risk of an accident. Your boss and loved ones would rather you be a few minutes late than never arrive.

Driving too fast can be reckless and extremely dangerous. You risk not only your life but also the lives of others on the road. They have friends and loved ones who are dependent on them, too. So keep your speed in check and use cruise control if necessary.

Wear Your Seat Belt

The use rate for seat belts in the United States sat at approximately 90.4% in 2021. The NHTSA estimates that seat belts saved almost 15,000 lives in 2017 alone. You need to check that all passengers are wearing their seat belts correctly before putting the car in drive. Seat belts save lives; there’s no way around it.

You never know when you’ll be in an accident. That’s the advantage of wearing your seat belt correctly at all times. They’re ready to do their job and keep you safe when an accident occurs.

Don’t Drink and Drive

Sadly, 29 people lose their lives daily due to vehicular accidents involving a driver impaired by alcohol. Drinking and driving are hazardous, and we can’t state enough that you should never do it. You should never let anyone you know drive if they’ve been drinking.

It’s easy to think you can make a short drive after drinking. However, the effects of drinking are more substantial than you think and can cost you more than you imagine. Getting a DUI or causing an accident could land you behind bars. It’s not worth the risk, so use a ride-sharing service like Uber or have a designated driver get you or your loved ones home safely.

Motorcycles and cars driving on highway
Know what problems each interstate you will be driving on has before you hit the highway.

Avoid Driving at Night

Driving at night can be challenging, especially on a long road trip. Hours of driving can be downright exhausting. There were roughly 91,000 police-reported accidents involving drowsy driving, which resulted in 50,000 injuries. It’s vital that you schedule stops and that you take time when traveling long distances. Find a safe place to park and rest to avoid putting yourself and other drivers in a dangerous situation.

You can often pull over at rest or truck stops and take a short nap. Many facilities also offer shower and food services, which can be excellent options to help you to feel rejuvenated while on the road. It can be wise to plan your stops when making your route and give yourself ample time to make the drive, so you don’t push the limits of safe driving.

Pro Tip: Avoiding driving in bad weather is one way to be safe. But if you must road trip in the winter, make sure you have these Top 13 Winter Road Trip Essentials To Keep Your Holiday Travels Safe.

10 US Highways You Should NEVER Drive!

Avoid the Worst Roads in the USA When Possible

Depending on where you’re planning to travel, avoiding some of these roads isn’t possible. You’ll have to use them eventually. However, now that you know their risks, you can drive safely and be cautious. Please don’t get caught off guard by these dangerous interstates crisscrossing our country. You can stay safe by following our safety tips and being aware of the hazards of each road.

Towing an RV adds another element of risk when you’re driving on bad roads. Before you head out, read the 10 Ways to Make Towing a Big Rig Less Dangerous.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Sunday 10th of July 2022

You forgot the worst driving habit cell phones. I believe they cause more wrecks than drunk drivers do.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 24th of July 2022

Good point!