Summer Travel Tips: The Most Dangerous Highways in Each State

We all know winter can be a dangerous time for driving, but what about summer? Summer driving has its own risks. With teen drivers out for summer break, families on long road trips, and fun outings like barbecues and beach trips, roads can be hectic and packed.

To raise awareness of the risks of summer driving, we’ve researched the most dangerous US highways for summer travel. We’ll lay out these highways in a map, then talk more about key findings and how you can stay safe.

Map of the most dangerous highways for summer travel

We analyzed three years’ worth (2015 to 2017) of traffic fatality reports to find out which roads had the highest number of fatal car crashes from May through September. All data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.1

Most Dangerous Highways Map

What’s the most dangerous highway in your state?

Driving risks can vary widely by state, even during warmer months. Find out each state’s deadliest roads in the list below, and continue reading to learn which roads stand out the most. For more information, you can find annual state highway safety plans and reports on the NHTSA’s website.

Key findings and trends

We dug through the data to see what we could turn up. Here are some of our most interesting findings.

States and highways

We found several things we’d want to know if we lived or frequently traveled in certain states or on certain highways:

  • Generally, the number of traffic fatalities reflect the size of the state. But Florida’s a notable exception. It’s much smaller than California or Texas, yet all three of these states have about the same number of fatalities.
  • Florida also has the state road with the highest number of traffic fatalities during this time period. There were 160 deaths on I-10 during summertime in 2015, 2016, and 2017. That’s the most on a single road on the entire list.
  • South Carolina’s US-17 also had relatively high fatalities, considering the state is one of the 10 smallest in the country.
  • I-95 is a top three deadliest summer highway in eight different states.
  • I-70 and I-80 are both top three deadliest highways in six different states.
  • Other interstate highways that appear more than once on our list include I-40, I-75, I-90, I-10, I-94, I-20, I-25, I-35, I-5, I-65, and I-81.


We also see some significant fatality trends from this data. Not surprisingly, higher speed limits correlate with increased traffic fatalities.2 Texas has the highest speed limit in the nation and many fatalities. Interestingly, even as states with lower speed limits have increased those limits over the years, they’ve experienced higher fatality levels.

Remember, you don’t have to go the maximum speed, just the minimum. And you should never, ever go over the limit. Yeah, you may get antsy on your way to your summer vacation destination. But according to IIHS vice president for research Charles Farmer, “Driving 70 instead of 65 saves a driver at best 6½ minutes on a 100-mile trip.”3 You won’t save much time by speeding. But you could save lives (and avoid an expensive ticket) by driving at a safe speed.

Safe road tripping
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If you’re planning a long trip this summer, be aware of the changing speed limits and remember that the risk of speeding is just not worth it.

When it comes to summer fatalities, timing is everything. Each state has a day that’s more dangerous than any other. In California, for example, it’s January 1, while in New York, it’s July 5.4 In fact, holidays tend to be more dangerous than average for drivers in any state.5 (Check out our Fourth of July and Memorial Day articles to see more holiday driving trends in your state.)

The day isn’t the only thing that matters; the time of day can affect safety, too. Take a look at this interactive chart from our data analyst.

Teen driving statistics

What about teen drivers? They’re more at risk than anyone. The period between Labor Day and Memorial Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” because there are more teen crashes than at any other time.6

Teen drivers tend to cause car crashes most often under the following conditions:

  • When they’re speeding
  • When they’re drinking and driving
  • When they’re distracted7

In accidents caused by teen drivers, most injuries and deaths happen to someone other than the teen driver.8 Even if the driver isn’t legally charged, that’s a heavy burden to carry into adulthood.

If you have teens, educate them about safe driving. Especially stress the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. It might just save their lives or someone else’s.

Safe travel tips for summer roads

So how do you keep yourself safe when driving during the summer? We have a few tips.

Before going on a road trip, take your car for a safety check

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests regular maintenance throughout the summer. You’re less likely to crash or get stranded when your vehicle is in top condition.

The NHTSA’s maintenance checklist includes the following:

  • Tires
  • Lights
  • Cooling system
  • Fluid levels
  • Belts
  • Hoses
  • Wiper blades
  • Air conditioning
  • Floor mats

Research and plan your route ahead of time

To stay on the safest roads, you’ll need to plan ahead. One great place to get information for driving is the Federal Highway Administration’s Real-Time Traveler Information. The site has data about the accuracy of travel time displays, travel time reliability information, and travel hotlines for locations across the country.

You can also look at the Federal Highway Administration’s National Traffic and Road Closure Information. These pages share traffic stats and closed road alerts.

Once you’ve planned your route, share it with a friend or family member who’s staying home. Schedule periodic check-ins with them—especially if you’re traveling solo.

Avoid driving on risky days or at risky times

The resources from the Fatalities section will help you determine the riskiest days and times to drive in your area. We suggest planning longer car trips along those days. On the overall riskiest day in your state, make alternate, non-driving plans if you can. For instance, if you live in New Mexico and the riskiest driving day is the Fourth of July, maybe you should stay in. You can start a tradition where you barbecue in your backyard and watch a parade broadcast at home. Of course, if you don’t want to change your plans for the day, you can also take public transportation. Depending on where you live, the subway or bus system might be a viable alternative to driving.


Using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS), we collected data on each state’s fatal crashes from May through September, 2015–2017. We then determined which roads saw the most traffic fatalities and analyzed the details reported in those incidents to pinpoint regional trends. Length and traffic volume weren’t accounted for in our analysis, so this dataset is meant to be used as a high-level guide, not a basis for safety rankings.


No matter where you live or how good a driver you are, there are some definite risks to driving in the summer. We hope that with the information we’ve provided, you’ll be more aware of the dangers of risky highways, driving days, and driving times in your state. We also encourage you to continue to research and refine your safe summer driving strategy.