USA Road Trips: Data Ranks The Most Dangerous Routes
America is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, and road trips allow us to take in all the best that the U.S. has to offer.
But there are still dangers to contend with while driving, and with this in mind, Forbes Advisor wanted to determine which of America’s iconic road trip routes were the most dangerous, and which were the safest.
To do so, the Forbes Advisor team analyzed the number of fatal accidents in proportion to traffic volume for each route. Alongside this, the analysis also examined accident causes including poor lighting, drunk driving, drugs, speeding and bad weather.
See the results below. For the full data including percentage of accidents and fatalities categorized by cause please click HERE.
- The Grand Circle is the deadliest U.S. road trip with 32 fatal accidents per 1,000,000 vehicles.
- Route 66 takes third place with 26.73 fatal accidents per 1,000,000 vehicles.
- The Nascar Homelands route had the highest percentage of fatal accidents caused by bad lighting at 40.18%, the most of any factor among all studied.
- At 34.10%, Surfing California holds the top spot for fatal accidents caused by drunk driving, despite being the safest road trip overall.
- The highest amount of fatal accidents caused by illegal drug use is 23%, on the second safest route overall, Colorado Ski Adventure.
According to data, The Grand Circle is America’s most dangerous road trip route with approximately 32 fatal accidents per one million vehicles. At 1,161 miles long and based principally in Utah, this route also crosses into Arizona, and features four of the country’s most spectacular national parks. With such dramatic landscapes being the focal point of this route, it comes as no surprise that environmental factors are the cause of the most accidents at 34%, with poor lighting amidst the cliffs and canyons the primary culprit.
The Oregon Trail places second — with 29.34 fatal accidents per one million vehicles — and is the longest route at a vast 2,064 miles. Both poor lighting and drunk driving were to blame for most accidents on this route at 28% and 24% respectively.
Third with 26.73 fatal accidents per one million vehicles is undoubtedly the most famous road trip in the country, Route 66, which begins in Collinsville, Illinois and works westward to Santa Monica Pier in California. The route also holds the third highest rate for hit and run accidents at 7.33%, but the second lowest rate of fatal accidents caused by illegal drug use at 8.85%.
At the opposite end of the scale sits California Coast Highway 1, otherwise known as the “Surfing California” route, with the lowest rate of fatalities at 2.48 per one million vehicles. From San Diego’s stunning coves in the southernmost part of the state, up to San Francisco’s lush greenery in the north, this road trip lives up to its name as any surfer’s dream getaway.
* All road trip routes collected from Hertz
** Traffic volumes are based on the average annual daily traffic long a road trip in 2017