With more than 39 million people living in California, it’s no surprise that traffic presents an ongoing problem. Across the state, motorists face traffic congestion — and many accidents — on a daily basis.
However, some roads are much worse than others when it comes to danger and the possibility of being involved in an accident resulting in injury or death. What are some of the worst roads in California?
California State Route 138
Known in the past as “death road,” the “highway of death” and “California deathway,” State Route 138 has earned its nicknames with a high fatality rate. The road, which runs from Interstate 15 to Palmdale, averaged some 10 fatalities per year prior to improvements that began in 2006. In the past decade, fatalities have decreased thanks to upgrades like wider lanes.
I-5 begins at the Mexico-United States border at San Ysidro and runs into Oregon, constituting a major north-south route. Cities linked by I-5 include Sacramento, Redding, San Diego, Stockton and Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the road has one of the highest fatality rates in the state; in 2008, it rated as the nation’s most-dangerous highway.
This road stands as another primary route, serving as an east-west artery linking the Arizona border with major California cities. I-10 also runs through large cities, including San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Between 1994 and 2008, more than 320 people died in accidents on the highway.
The 27-mile-long Highway 70, located in Yuba County, combines many fast drivers with heavy traffic due to some slow drivers, lane switches and seemingly perpetual construction. One 12-mile stretch of the road is especially dangerous due to slow-moving tourists, farms transporting their goods, and locals who become frustrated as a result.
This 45-mile highway runs through Shasta County and is also referred to as California State Route 299. A 10-mile section between Lake Buckhorn and Whiskeytown is especially dangerous to motorists. The stretch of road makes it easy to lose control of a vehicle, especially for those who are distracted or exceeding the speed limit.
In one recent year, some 220 accidents and 280 deaths occurred on I-40, a popular but dangerous route for San Bernardino commuters. Construction to fix the hazardous conditions has been frequent, but the work presents its own dangers for motorists. In addition, the road can become slick from the heat.
This interstate in San Diego was ranked as the country’s 12th-most dangerous highway; the road design along with escalating traffic place it among the state’s top roadways for accidents. I-8 is known for its curves and uneven lanes that may result both from faulty design and heavy traffic. Lanes are noticeably narrow on a road frequented by large trucks.
Kaiser Pass Road
This 14-mile stretch runs from Hot Springs to Huntington and has earned the ominous nickname “Death Row.” Drivers unfamiliar with the road are at risk due to the route’s structure and a variety of driving styles employed here. Traffic coming out of Los Angeles moves extremely fast, making it near impossible to merge at times. The route also provides views of beautiful but hazardous canyons that present the real possibility of plunging over.
Located in Merced County, Highway 49 runs for 40 miles, with a particularly dangerous 15-mile stretch between Bear Valley and Coulterville. The road includes many dramatic curves and turns, and motorists often encounter cars on the wrong side as their drivers attempt to pass slower traffic.
What Makes These Roads so Dangerous?
On California’s most-hazardous highways, congested traffic combines with other factors to create uniquely dangerous situations. Drivers who operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs have a much higher likelihood of involvement in accidents.
Distracted driving is another factor in many accidents. Texting and otherwise using smartphones behind the wheel is not limited to teens, and it’s a bad habit that leads to many accidents. In some cases, driver fatigue also contributes as motorists make their way down long stretches of highway.
If you are involved in an accident in California, working with the right attorney can protect your rights and help you recover compensation if you’ve been injured. For a free initial consultation, please contact The Law Office of Daniel J. O’Neill.