California is the third largest state, following Alaska and Texas, and it is by far the most populous. The golden state is vastly different from one end to another, which means there are always plenty of places to go and things to see. California has almost 400,000 miles of roadway, some of which has a dangerous reputation.
California had 14.2 million registered vehicles in 2020, almost double that of the next highest state. That’s a lot of vehicles, and though they are not all on the road at the same time, there are plenty of opportunities for accidents. Some highways and roads are more prone to danger than others.
Most Dangerous Roads in California
Whether you are a native traveling across the state, on vacation, or just passing through, it may be worth knowing the dangerous roads in California. You may or may not be able to choose a different route.
In 2022, Moneygeek.com named Cajon Pass the deadliest road in California. The pass is only a 5-mile stretch of I-15 that runs through Hesperia. It is commonly used by those driving between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Though this is only a small segment of I-15, there were 19 fatal collisions in a two-year period. Speeding around turns is one of the most common concerns on Cajon Pass, which becomes an even greater problem during periods of dense fog or high wind.
Twentynine Palms Highway
This stretch of 151 miles or so reaches from Palm Springs to Arizona. There is not much to see along the way. A sign alongside Twentynine Palms states, “No service for the next 100 miles.” One problem along this stretch is that it runs east and west with little to block the direct sun at sunrise and sunset. Be sure to grab fuel and sunglasses before taking a trip down Twentynine Palms Highway.
If you are looking for a straight shot from Mexico to Oregon, the 796 miles up Interstate 5 will get you there. This stretch is one of the most deadly for a number of reasons, one of which is that it is primarily used for necessity rather than tourism. Trucks run along this lengthy stretch in abundance, and there are plenty of truckstop towns along the way, but many find it hard to stay attentive on the long drive. I-5, through congested cities like Los Angeles, has a high rate of low-speed collisions.
Highway 99 is known to be incredibly dangerous. There were 62 fatalities within a five-year span. 99 is an aging highway with long stretches of poor lighting and narrow lanes. Also called the “Golden State Highway,” 99 runs north-south from Los Angeles to Red Bluff through several rural areas. Drunk driving and speeding are the two leading causes of death along this highway.
One of the most famous and scenic routes in the state, Highway 1 runs along California’s beautiful jagged coastline, displaying views of the Pacific Ocean. It is a popular route for tourists and beachgoers, but it is not without dangers. This two-lane highway runs largely along cliffs with minimal guardrails to protect from the edge of the road or potential rockslides above.
State Route 138
Also called “Pearblossom Highway,” State Route 138 runs from I-15 to Palmdale. Some other nicknames for this stretch of asphalt include “bloody ally” and “California Deathway.” One of the biggest issues with this segment of the highway is its tight curves and steep hills. It is not recommended for trucks or large commercial vehicles.
One of the most dangerous stretches of I-10 is the 150 miles from Phoenix, Arizona, to the California border. The section that runs through San Bernardino, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and other California cities is often congested, resulting in enough accidents to make it one of the most dangerous roads in California. The full length of I-10 extends all the way to Jacksonville, Florida.
The stretch of interstate 40 that passes from Barstow across the Mojave Desert to reach Needles, California, is considered dangerous. There are several areas with unpaved shoulders, and these 155 miles of roadway are also subject to rough conditions and deterioration due to weather. During a four-year span, there were over 100 fatalities reported.
Common Accidents on Dangerous California Roads
Accidents can happen for many reasons. Here are some factors that have helped many of these dangerous California roads make the list.
- High speeds on curvy mountain roads with blind turns,
- Drunk driving accidents,
- Weathered and poorly maintained roadways,
- Inadequate lighting on the road,
- Congested roads through populated cities,
- Distracted driving through scenic passes,
- Long stretches of road contributing to driver fatigue, and
- Narrow roads or little opportunity to pass safely.
There are plenty of things that could go wrong on the roadway. In 2021, the state of California reported around 4,161 motor-vehicle fatalities. California ranks as having the highest number of total traffic fatalities. If you or someone you love has experienced an accident on a dangerous California road because of someone else’s negligent action or inaction, you may be entitled to compensation.
Choosing a California Vehicle Accident Attorney
Experience matters when you are up against the California legal system. Michael Henderson has been fighting for the rights of accident victims for over 25 years. One of the biggest errors that victims make is accepting less than what they deserve. Our firm is dedicated to helping you determine who was at fault for your accident on a dangerous California road and how much your case is truly worth so that you never have to wonder if you were under-compensated. We have won tens of millions of dollars for our clients over the past two decades, and we will fight for every penny. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.