A ValuePenguin report named the California section of Interstate 5 the most dangerous road in America.
According to the report, 544 fatal accidents on the road caused 584 deaths during the years 2015 to 2019.
The I-5 runs 796.53 miles from the San Ysidro Port of Entry at the Mexican border to the Oregon border in the Siskiyou Mountains. Along the way, the highway passes through San Diego, Los Angeles, Stockton, Sacramento, Redding, Weed and Yreka.
The deadliest stretch of the I-5, according to the report, is San Diego County, where 99 fatal crashes led to 110 deaths.
Several California counties saw at least 50 deaths on the I-5 from 2015 to 2019, including Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.
107.4 deaths occurred for every 100 fatal accidents on the I-5, according to the report. The road with the highest number of deaths per 100 fatal accidents in the report was California’s SR-49, which saw 146.4 deaths per 100 fatal accidents.
The I-5 was ranked 10th on the report for the percentage of fatal accidents which occurred in darkness, with 62% of the road’s fatal crashes happening in the dark. The road with the highest percentage of fatal accidents occurring in the dark was California’s SR-91, with 71 percent of fatal accidents on the road happening in darkness.
27% of the fatal crashes on the I-5 involved alcohol. The road with the highest percentage of fatal accidents involving alcohol was California’s SR-91. 42 percent of fatal crashes, or 36 fatal crashes on SR-91 involved alcohol.
79 percent of the fatal accidents on the I-5 occurred in clear weather. The road with the highest percentage of fatal accidents occurring in clear weather was New Mexico’s I-25, with 89 percent of fatal accidents happening in clear conditions. The road with the highest percentage of fatal accidents happening in unclear conditions was Virginia’s I-81, with 92 percent of fatal crashes occurring in unclear weather.
I-5 Usurps Highway 99 As America’s Most Dangerous Road
A previous study had declared Highway 99, which runs through cities such as Bakersfield and Fresno, the most dangerous road in the United States. 264 fatal accidents occurred on the highway from 2011 to 2015, accounting for an accident rate of 62.3 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
Factors involved in Highway 99 being so dangerous include poor lighting, drunk drivers and tule fog.
According to the ValuePenguin report, 304 fatal accidents led to 350 deaths from 2015 to 2019 on Highway 99, which was ranked the 11th most dangerous road by the report. Kern County saw the most deaths on Highway 99, with 54. 63 percent of fatal accidents on Highway 99 occurred in the dark, placing Highway 99 at sixth on the report’s list of roads with the highest percentage of fatal crashes happening in darkness. 30 percent of fatal crashes on Highway 99 involved alcohol. 79 percent of fatal crashes on Highway 99 occurred in clear weather.
Why Do Accidents Occur On I-5?
The I-5 is a very long road, so there are many reasons why car accidents occur on the road, including:
The I-5 sees a high volume of vehicles pass through Los Angeles, the Westside Freeway and the Grapevine. A good percentage of this traffic is large trucks, which can cause particularly catastrophic auto accidents due to their weight.
Speeding is usually one of the primary causes of auto accidents on any road, and the I-5 is no exception. Drivers often drive at too high of a speed when passing vehicles on the Grapevine or when traversing flat sections of the I-5 through the Central Valley.
A common spot for bad weather is the higher altitude sections of the Grapevine, which can see snowfall or heavy rain which can cause poor visibility and slippery roads. High winds on the Grapevine can also cause accidents.
The Central Valley is notorious for tule fog, very thick fog which can drastically reduce visibility.
California has also been in a drought in recent years, which can lead to dust storms which reduce visibility.
The road can be quite steep while going through the Grapevine. This can lead to accidents, especially involving semi-trucks, when brakes fail or driver error occurs.
Trucks Carrying Too Much Weight
I-5 sees a lot of semi-trucks, and sometimes these trucks carry too much cargo. Overloaded trucks are always dangerous, but they are especially dangerous when combined with factors such as speeding, weather, traffic congestion or steep roads.