5. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway LA
Not to be confused with the Pontchartrain Expressway, which is part of I-10, this is a 24-mile-long bridge which crosses Lake Pontchartrain. A Guinness World Record holder for the longest continuous bridge over water, this is an extremely scenic drive but can also be a very dangerous one. Again, fog is the culprit, rolling in so thick that drivers can’t see the end of their own car let alone anyone else’s. Police convoys are sometimes used to guide cars across but a police spokesman describes driving in the fog as “a very dangerous and unnerving situation”. Not for the faint-hearted!
4. Colorado 550, CO
Also known as the Million Dollar Highway, this is another mountainous road full of treacherous twists and turns. Part of the road is cut directly into the mountain and threatens to throw you into a ravine at the hint of over-steer. Specifically, the Million Dollar Highway refers to the 12-mile stretch south of Ouray, through Uncompahgre Gorge. Here you’ll find no guardrails and drivers heading south towards Silverton have to take the outside lane, perilously close to the edge.
The ascent of Red Mountain Pass is particularly scary, with its steep gradient and hairpin curves. If you’re not driving and you don’t have your eyes tightly closed, the scenery is spectacular. Just watch out for the RVs coming towards you. And in winter, it might not even be possible to attempt the drive, as the road is often closed by snow. Extreme driving indeed!
3. U.S. Highway 2, MT
Montana is one of the most dangerous states to drive in – with the long distances between towns, cars pick up speed and so nearly all accidents are high-speed ones. The response time from emergency services is also huge compared to urban areas. Help can take anything from 80 minutes to several hours to arrive, and the nearest hospital could be hundreds of miles away. So, if you have an accident on the Montana stretch of Highway 2, you’re on your own. Additionally, a review of Montana’s road safety found that 70% of people in accidents weren’t wearing seatbelts.
Road safety measures seem to be working in Montana – deaths went down from 270 in 2002 to 189 in 2010. Although the death rate per mile in 2010 was an all-time low for Montana, it was still the death rate per mile of any state in the country, and 3 times that of Massachusetts. Highway 2 is particularly treacherous, as it maintains a 70mph speed limit through winding and mountainous roads. If you’re at all skeptical about how dangerous the road is, a glance at the clusters of white crosses (up to 17 at any one point) will convince you…
2. Interstate 95, FL
The I-92 is a 382-mile highway, which goes from Miami along the east coast of Florida to the border with Georgia. It has the distinction of being the deadliest highway in America, with a rate of 1.73 fatal accidents per mile when measured over a 5-year period. The road is extremely busy and crowded, even with 12 lanes of traffic at one point. There are a number of homes near the highway, which means that no more lanes can be added for now. Florida is also a state with some extreme weather, which can disorientate visitors and cause hazardous driving conditions.
There are so many accidents that this stretch of road even has its own attorney, ready to sue anyone who drives into you. If that doesn’t make you terrified of driving it, what will?
1. Dalton Highway, AK
As is so often the case, however dangerous things are in the contiguous states, there’s often a more extreme danger to be found in Alaska. The Dalton Highway is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. As you might expect, the 414-mile road is pretty isolated, so in the case of an accident help will take a very long time to arrive. And with the freezing weather, huge trucks and a minefield of potholes, accidents are very likely to happen.
The road was made famous via the reality TV show “Ice Road Truckers”, where it was introduced as “In the Dark Heart of Alaska, there’s a road where hell has frozen over”. That may be exaggerated for dramatic effect, but the Dalton Highway is certainly a danger, even to the experienced truckers. If you want to get somewhere in Alaska, probably best to fly…