Car accidents killed 32,719 people in 2013, about 90 people each day. And there are some stretches of American road that prove much deadlier than others.
I used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to examine where fatal traffic accidents are most likely to occur, and whether there are certain stretches of highway that seem to have a disproportionate number of collisions given their size. I pulled the 2,867 fatal accidents on major American interstates in 2013 into the map below.
The problem with calculating traffic accidents and what percentage of the population is affected is that many times it's not pulling from the same population pool, as people often travel and drive in areas where they don't necessarily reside. And while it is true that more fatal accidents happen off the main interstate roads, the interstate system is America's largest road network and experiences the largest volume of traffic as the US's primary artery for commuting and transporting goods.
Thus, for the purposes of this analysis, I grouped 315 interstates and 2,867 accidents by state and then divided the total number of fatal accidents by the total number of miles within a given state to calculate the number of accidents per ten miles for an interstate. Interstate stretches smaller than 10 miles were excluded. Below is a list of the top 10 interstates for fatal accidents per mile in 2013.
Stretching a little under 75 miles in Georgia, I-285 had 26 fatal accidents in 2013, while the state of Georgia reported 1,085 fatal accidents in total, making it the seventh worst state for fatal accidents.
Only a little over 20 miles in length, the I-710 in California accounted for seven fatal accidents, whereas the state of California reported 2,772 in 2013, making it the second worst state for fatal accidents.
Oklahoma is the 19th worst state for fatal accidents, with 621 recorded in 2013. I-44 actually saw the most fatal accidents of any road in Oklahoma, with 30 reported accidents, but has an overall lower likelihood of fatality, as I-44 stretches for a little more than 400 miles.
On the whole, Delaware ranks pretty low for fatal accidents, at 45th. In 2013, the state only saw 94 fatal accidents. However, the I-495 only clocks in at a little under 15 miles, making it one of Delaware's most trafficked — and deadliest — roads.
Tennessee is the ninth worst state for fatal accidents, with 911 reported in 2013. I-40 actually saw the most fatal accidents of any road in Tennessee, with 46 reported accidents, but has an overall lower likelihood of fatality, as I-40 spans almost 550 miles.
Florida is the third worst state for fatal accidents, with 2,228 total accidents reported in 2013. I-95 in Florida saw the largest number of fatal accidents for any interstate in 2013, at 83 accidents.
As a state, Texas had both the largest number of fatal accidents in 2013, at 3,044, and the largest number of drunk driving accidents, with 913 recorded incidents. Eight of the 15 fatal accidents on the I-410 involved a drunk driver.
Shorter than the I-410 by roughly 20 miles, the I-610 recorded four fewer fatal accidents than the I-410 and significantly fewer drunk driving accidents. Of the 11 accidents, only four involved a drunk driver.
Of the 10 interstates with the largest number of fatal accidents per mile, I-4 in Florida covers the longest distance, at a little more than 150 miles.
Ranked 10th, with a fatality rate of 2.1 accidents per 10 miles, I-215 reported 14 accidents in 2013. I-5 actually saw the most fatal accidents of any road in California with 72 accidents reported, but has an overall lower likelihood of fatality, as I-5 spans more than 1,000 miles.
Digging into the data, I started to find trends: Certain states tend to have much deadlier highways, and different sections of the exact same interstate can differ greatly in their deadliness.
Texas, California, and Florida all have sections of two of the nation's deadliest interstates. The I-710 in Los Angeles, California, was the second deadliest interstate (after the I-285 in Atlanta, Georgia), with roughly three fatal accidents every 10 miles in 2013. The I-215 in San Bernardino, California, ranked 10th, with a 2.1 fatal accident rate.
Of the 315 interstates examined, California had the largest number of interstates with fatal accidents — 20 in all, 12 of which ranked in the top 50 deadliest interstates. While New York and Illinois had the second highest number of interstates with fatal accidents at 18 and 17, respectively, interstates in Illinois and New York were far less deadly than those in California. Not one interstate in New York made the top 50, and only two interstates in Illinois made the cut.
Texas, however, witnessed the greatest number of fatal accidents along any interstate system in 2013, 340 in total. California, with its more expansive road network, recorded 306 accidents; Florida, with only six interstates, totaled 229 accidents. Taken together, accidents in Texas, California, and Florida made up a little more than 30 percent of all fatal accidents along interstate systems.
Interstate 240, with sections in Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, appears twice on the list of the nation's deadliest interstates. The Oklahoma stretch is ranked third, with six fatal accidents and a 2.9 accident rate, and the Tennessee stretch is ranked fifth, with 10 accidents and a 2.6 accident rate. The North Carolina stretch is ranked 78th and is relatively safe, with only one recorded accident in 2013.
While Interstate 95 was not one of the deadliest highways, it had the most expansive reach, touching 14 states, and had the greatest number of fatal accidents — 83 — along its stretch in Florida. But because the I-95 runs for more than 400 miles in Florida, it only ranked as the 15th deadliest highway, with an accident rate of 1.9.