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No stretch of road is entirely free from danger. From one-way streets to six-lane highways, drivers have cause for caution. Intersections are especially prone to accidents, with traffic flowing in multiple directions and frequent confusion about left-lane driving. This is an article about the most fatal intersections in America.
While local laws differ substantially, most drivers are familiar with the challenges inherent to intersections: braving a left turn across oncoming traffic, waiting for pedestrians to make it across the street, going right on red etc.
But how often do these intersection hazards result in disaster and lead to fatal crashes?
To find out, we turned to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national record of deadly accidents maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Analyzing information from 2010 through 2017, we determined which intersections witnessed the greatest loss of life across the country.
At the state, county, and city levels, we identified places where intersections produce a stunning number of accident fatalities. To understand the perils of intersections in your area, you don’t want to miss what we uncovered.
Of course, if you live in an area with a high number of accident fatalities, your insurance rates might be higher even though you’re not involved in those accidents.
If you are worried about finding the best rates in an area with the most fatal intersections, just insert your ZIP code into our online quote comparison tool above. It’ll give you the best rates for your area and demographic information, without you having to apply for a quote to each auto insurance company directly.
You might also want to check out our page reviewing the best auto insurance companies in 2021. On that page, you can find out each company’s average rates, financial ratings, and complaint index.
The topics we’ll cover in this article about intersection fatalities dive deep into certain locations. We’ll go over the deadliest intersections in all states, including the most dangerous intersections in Pennsylvania and the most dangerous intersections in Florida.
In the frequently asked questions section, we also go over the biggest — and perhaps most dangerous — intersections in the world. Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
How many fatal crashes occur at intersections? Between 2010 and 2017, an average of 24 people died each day in traffic accidents at intersections across the country. In some ways, this figure represents a public safety crisis.
Crashes at intersections claim more lives each day than other widely publicized threats, such as the national shortage of organ donors. Of course, some states contributed more to the national average than others.
These figures certainly reflect the populations of these states. More residents translate to more cars and pedestrians, and thus more accident potential. Similarly, many of the states lowest on this list are sparsely populated. Local challenges definitely contribute to intersection accidents in many cases as well.
In Florida, a roadway system built to accommodate vehicles often fails to protect those on foot, making the state particularly deadly for pedestrians. In California, congestion in and around major cities in so intense that accidents inevitably ensue.
Below, we’ll examine intersection deaths in cities, counties, and particular locations, examining the causes of crashes in each place.
In many states, a single intersection produced a devastating number of deaths during the period studied. Additionally, these fatality totals often reflected a single horrific incident.
In 2015, a car crashed into a van carrying 18 passengers at a highway intersection in Moore Haven, Florida. Eight people died, stirring debate about whether additional lighting might have prevented the crash.
In a 2013 incident in Upper Arlington, Ohio, a police officer responding to a robbery smashed into a car carrying a family of six. All members of the family perished in the accident. Another 2013 crash in Spencer, North Carolina, involved just one vehicle: A drunk driver and five of her passengers died after she careened through an intersection and into a tree.
Texas was home to two of the nation’s deadliest intersections, including one at which a suspect killed six individuals while attempting to evade law enforcement in 2014.
Yet, even less populous states had highly deadly intersections of their own. Montana, for example, saw five teenagers pass away in a 2010 crash on notorious “Thrill Hill” road. The next year, authorities enacted changes to eliminate a hairpin curve and improve visibility at that intersection.
Perilous intersections in towns such as Sherburn, Minnesota, and Lyndon, Kansas, prove the same point: Deadly crossings exist outside of big cities.
Counties containing major cities led the country in total intersection fatalities. These included Los Angeles County, where pedestrian deaths remain prevalent despite the efforts of local authorities. Maricopa County, which includes accident-intensive Phoenix, ranked second overall.
Yet, Florida may have the most widespread challenges, with four of the top 10 counties for total intersection deaths. According to experts, staffing shortages have limited law enforcement efforts to police Florida’s roads. In Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties, the number of traffic citations has declined, while crashes have increased.
When we studied intersection fatalities per capita, however, some sparsely populated counties emerged as particularly dangerous. At the top of the list Williamson County, Texas, which is just north of Austin and includes small parts of the Texas capital.
Williamson had an unusually high number of fatal accidents taking place at intersections. We excluded many counties due to their small populations, such as Loving County, Texas.
With just 134 residents, Loving County serves as a key conduit for the oil industry — and the mass of trucks and tankers passing through have pushed its accident fatality totals to absurd extremes.
Drivers in states with the most intersection traffic deaths may see higher auto insurance rates even if they are a good driver with a great driving history. Often, auto insurance rates vary due to numerous factors from area to area as you can see in our guide to Texas auto insurance.
During the period studied, various states displayed vastly different trajectories for intersection deaths relative to registered vehicles. This can also affect auto insurance as a car owner or driver will need auto insurance to register a vehicle. In a few cases, such as Arkansas, vast improvement occurred between 2010 and 2017.
But for every positive case, another state presented a troubling counternarrative. In Colorado, for example, intersection deaths have been on the rise since 2012.
Some might blame this development on lax enforcement. In Denver, for example, traffic citations have significantly declined. Others might attribute the rise to the legalization of marijuana, although other cannabis-friendly states like California and Oregon haven’t seen a similar increase in intersection fatalities.
Interestingly, the places at the very top and bottom of this ranking stayed largely steady in their respective positions. Florida held the unenviable first position for the vast majority of the period studied, while sparsely populated states like North and South Dakota ranked near the bottom of the list.
Although these states have relatively high per-capita fatality rates, they rank 23rd and 24th in total miles of roadways, respectively, leading to their relatively low intersection death rates when measured by the total size of the roadway system.
While we typically associate intersections with local streets rather than large freeways, fatal crashes do occur along key highway junctures. Entering and exiting freeways can get particularly hairy, and civil engineers have long sought ways to make these “interchanges” more safe and convenient.
Our findings suggest highway intersection deaths are common along much of America’s East Coast but are most prevalent in Florida by far. Indeed, even for federal highways passing through multiple states, Florida seemed to be the epicenter of intersection deaths.
What is the leading cause of intersection deaths? A prime example is U.S. Highway 1: While the highway extends up to Maine, the intersection deaths are concentrated in Florida. This reality reflects the nature of the road near Florida’s southern point: As drivers get closer to the Florida Keys, the highway begins to seem more like a local road, complete with stoplights, varied speed limits, and traffic.
Similarly, second-ranked U.S. Highway 41 passes through several Florida communities, with some intersections along the highway getting major upgrades as of late.
Not all federal highways pass through Florida, however. On east-west thoroughfares, such as U.S. Highway 50, U.S. Highway 60, and U.S. Highway 30, Indiana, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Kansas had particularly dangerous stretches.
Some of the states with the most fatal intersections are also states registered in the top 10 of worst states for traffic-related fatalities rankings. These states come up often and tend to have more problems than just fatalities at intersections.
Our findings confirm that intersections present definite dangers, resonating with the anxieties of drivers across the country. Still, our data also defies some common conceptions, proving that intersections can be deadly in remote areas as well as congested cities.
Moreover, traffic deaths can rise or plunge precipitously in the space of a year, suggesting that precedent does not guarantee future safety. However, significant improvement can be made swiftly if cities, states, and counties take meaningful steps to address the danger in their midst.
Individual drivers, of course, may feel powerless to change the infrastructure of their local intersections, but you can always take charge of your driving safety, demonstrating appropriate caution and defensive driving at every crossing and remaining wary of other drivers.
Additionally, you can invest in the right protection on the road, shielding yourself from costly repairs, medical debt, and legal liability. That peace of mind demands the right policy, and we’re here to help you find the perfect coverage.
At AutoInsurance.org, we can help you find the protection you need and substantial savings on your premiums. We’ve got you covered with a customized quote.
Now that we’ve covered the most fatal intersections in the United States and how intersection fatalities are rising from year to year, let’s get to your frequently asked questions. These include:
And many more. Let’s get started.
The East Los Angeles interchange complex is the busiest freeway or interchange in the world with hundreds of thousands of vehicles using it per day.
The most dangerous type of intersection is one with blinking lights. The reason is that people can become confused about the right of way in those intersections, leading to accidents.
Wondering what is the deadliest interstate in America? The deadliest highway in America is I-4, which runs through Florida. It has a combination of construction zones, heavy traffic, and a large number of trailers or 18-wheelers that add challenges compared to the average highway.
Intersections are dangerous because some people might not understand the rules, making maneuvers without having the right of way or incorrectly assuming or anticipating a maneuver by another driver.
Various news resources rank Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo as the busiest intersection no necessarily because of the vehicles. At peak times, thousands of people might cross the street at once, leading to major congestion and an element of chaos.
Shibuya Crossing is also considered the biggest intersection in the world. Because the Tokyo Greater Metropolitan Area has a little over 37 million people, this can make crossings very crowded, with none being more crowded or slightly chaotic as the Shibuya Crossing.
Interstate 4 in Florida is the most dangerous because it combines a mix of driving challenges, along with some mediocre-ranked drivers in the country. Those include large construction zones, heavy traffic, and large vehicles like 18-wheelers, where one wrong move might lead to an accident or a traffic death.
The North Yungas Road in Bolivia is considered the most dangerous road in the world with hundreds of deaths each year. The factors that make it the most dangerous include an unpaved, uneven road, drivers trying risky, overtake maneuvers, waterfalls cascading down the mountain onto the street, heavy fog due to its location on the mountain, and cliff falls of thousands of feet.
This project made use of the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, specifically for 2010 to 2017 (the most recent data available).
FARS data on the types of intersections are sparse, so this project assumes that any record identifying a cross street (TWAY_ID2 in the FARS codebook) in addition to a primary roadway (TWAY_ID) would have taken place at or near an intersection.
When not provided, locations were reverse geocoded using the reverse-geocoder library for Python v3.6. Locations that could not be reverse geocoded (~2% of the data) were discarded.
Additional information on county-level population data was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau, and data on the number of vehicles registered per state were from the Federal Highway Administration.
While this project presents exact numbers, it is likely they differ slightly from true figures in some cases. This could be due to the need to discard a percentage of records due to failed geocoding, incomplete records or missing data in FARS, or a nonuniform standard for counties and local municipalities in reporting accident data to the NHTSA.
Now, you’re an expert on the intersections in America with the most fatal accidents. You know that higher traffic deaths can lead to a higher insurance rate for people across a community, city, or state.
If you believe your auto insurance rates are too high in an area with the most fatal intersections and want to save money or just want to change insurance companies, enter your ZIP code into our online quote generator. You’ll find the best auto insurance rates in your area depending on your demographic information and driving record.
We hope you’ll consider sharing this content with your friends and followers. By raising awareness of intersection dangers, you could help someone avoid an accident. If you do want to use our work on your website or social media, we have two simple requests. First, please use our information and images only for noncommercial purposes. Second, please link back to this page so that others can explore all our data.