Californians are familiar with Highway 99, which stretches along almost the entire state. This 424-mile stretch of roadway spans from Fresno down to the Grapevine in Southern California.
Highway 99 has recently made news, but not for a good reason. A recent report shows that Highway 99 is the most dangerous highway in the United States. Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration shows that from 2011 to 2015, Highway 99 was the site of 264 fatal accidents. Fresno had the most, at 34 crashes. This is despite the fact that Highway 99 is the third-shortest highway in America.
What the Study Shows
The accident rate for Highway is 62.3 fatal crashes per 100 miles. So what exactly is causing all these accidents? It has been called the darkest highway in America. Between 2011 and 2015, there were 108 fatal accidents that happened in the dark, at a rate of 25.5 accidents per 100 miles. This means that 40% of accidents on that highway happened during evening hours.
Drunk Driving on Highway 99
Highway 99 also has a significant number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. Between 2011 and 2015, 72 fatal accidents involved a drunk driver. This number accounts for just under 17 accidents per 100 miles. These figures gave Highway 99 a second-place ranking, just behind I-45 in Texas for the number of accidents per 100 miles.
Northbound Highway 99 Lane Reductions
The study also concludes that the changing width of northbound Highway 99 also contributes to a number of accidents. As you travel north on the roadway, the highway goes from four lanes to two lanes and even turns into a signaled intersection at one point.
Proposition 1B: California’s Effort to Make Highway 99 Safer for Motorists
There have been efforts to improve safety along Highway 99. In 2006, Proposition 1B allocated billions of dollars for this effort. However, ongoing construction has led to other problems. Lane reductions and increased traffic have led to even more accidents. It is hopeful that the changes will lead to safer roads over time.