Summer is just around the corner, and with that comes road trip season. And though the vast highways of the United States may not conjure conditions as extreme as Russia’s Road of Bones or as scary as Bolivia’s La Carretera de los Yungas, there are still plenty that’ll make you feel glad you’ve got car insurance.
Here are 7 of the most treacherous roads in the U.S.
1. Highway 550 in Colorado
When you’re 11,000 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains, the one thing you want on a winding road is a guardrail. Unfortunately, many stretches along Highway 550 in southwestern Colorado have no such safety precautions. This is deliberate to help remove snow during the winter months and (wait for it) avalanche debris!
So you’re 11,000 feet up, it’s icy, there’s no guardrail, and you may have to speed away from an avalanche? To make matters worse, much of the route has no shoulder. So if you leave your lane for a moment, you could leave the mountain altogether.
2. Haul Road in Alaska
Officially known as the James Dalton Highway, Alaska’s “Haul Road” was opened in 1974 to transport oil and gas north from Fairbanks to the far reaches of the state. Temperatures along this isolated 2-lane road have been known to dip as low as -80°F through the Brooks Mountain Range. If you’re feeling adventurous (or in need of extreme isolation), this would be a drive of a lifetime. But despite the fact that you’d be following the Trans-Alaska pipeline for hundreds of miles, actual fuel services are pretty limited. On top of that, cell service is nonexistent. Helicopters do patrol the road twice a day looking for breakdowns and stranded drivers, but make sure you’re well equipped, just in case.
3. I-90 in Montana
With its remote stretches and countless road hazards, I-90 is sadly one reason why Montana has the highest highway fatality rate in the U.S. The reasons for this range from lengthy ambulance wait-times to people driving for long periods without resting. Local police have also cited alcohol as a big cause of accidents on I-90, along with distracted driving and a lack of seatbelts.
Cutting through the center of the state, I-90 may have its dangers, but it’s undoubtedly a beautiful way to get across the country. If you plan on taking this scenic highway, be sure to load up on supplies, keep it slow, and pack a medical kit before you go.
4. I-15 near Las Vegas
With approximately 8 million drivers speeding between southern Nevada and southern California each year, a certain 180-mile stretch of I-15 has become notoriously hazardous. Whether people are racing to party in Vegas or returning distracted after losing the mortgage payment, this sunny strip of desert road can be deadly, so if you’re heading to Vegas this year, be sure to take it easy and stop for breaks along the way.
5. I-10 in Arizona
The next road you’ll want to keep both hands on the wheel for is a (relatively) small part of I-10 running between Phoenix and the border with California. Despite stretching from sea to shining sea, I-10 has become particularly dangerous along this 150-mile section, and an accident on this dark, straight, and sparsely populated area can leave people stranded for a while. On average, up to 85 drivers per year lose their lives on this cruel desert road, so make sure you stock up on supplies and keep your phone charged.
6. Highway 6 in Utah
The 120-miles of Highway 6 between Spanish Fork and Green River in Utah are a key route between Salt Lake City and Denver, and the highway sees truckers, tourists, and commuters all competing for lane space while rushing between the 2 cities. Some tight twists and turns along with narrow icy lanes (not to mention the elk and deer that occasionally hop into traffic) make this road a little more dangerous than it seems. Recent improvements have helped to widen some of the lanes, but there are sections where a tight 18-inch double yellow line is the only thing separating double-wide farm vehicles from tiny hatchbacks. And often, the most notorious crashes come from drivers passing slow-moving vehicles when it’s not safe to do so.
7. U.S. Route 1 in Maine
Though it’s perhaps not the most commonly traveled road on this list, U.S. Route 1 in Maine has developed a dodgy reputation. Despite suffering from the usual elements of a dangerous road —poor road signs, sudden curves, and particularly harsh weather conditions — this popular rural route also has to deal with large moseying moose.
In fact, moose have become a bona fide road hazard in the state. And if you think moose can’t cause mayhem, consider this: Approximately 443 moose cause collisions in Maine each year (and that’s a number that’s fallen in recent years)Unlike rabbits and deer, moose are less startled by cars and remain unpredictable in heavy traffic. And with their immense size, hitting one can be devastating.
No matter where you roam this summer, make sure you and your car are prepared. See how Esurance can quickly personalize your car insurance before you go.