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How deadly is California’s I-5 in summer? A report on dangerous highways has answers

Interstate 5 remains closed
Interstate 5 covers nearly 800 miles of California, including the Grapevine over the Tehachapi Mountains. This picture of the notoriously busy route was taken during a storm closure.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California road-trippers, now you have one more reason to be wary while driving on Interstate 5. And U.S. 101 and California 99.

The California route with the highest death toll was the I-5, with 192 fatalities, followed by the U.S. 101, with 139 deaths and California 99 with 110, according to a recent roundup from the website ASecureLife.com. It took a quick look at national traffic fatality reports from 2015-17, particularly deaths from May through September, and made a “most dangerous highways” list.

The statistics were drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but ASecureLife counted only fatalities, not the length of the routes, nor the volume of traffic on them. As the report’s author acknowledge, “this dataset is meant to be used as a high-level guide, not a basis for safety rankings.”

Still, it’s good to be reminded of the dangers out there –- and how they vary by driver, day and hour. The report found that teenage drivers are “more at risk than anyone” and shows dramatic increases in fatalities on weekends, after dark.

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Among the “deadliest highway” findings for other Western states:

Arizona: Interstate 10, 100 fatalities

Colorado: Interstate 25, 60 fatalities

Idaho: Interstate 84, 45 fatalities

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Montana: Interstate 90, 24 fatalities

Nevada: Interstate 15, 27 fatalities

New Mexico: Interstate 25, 50 fatalities

Oregon: Interstate 5, 21 fatalities

Texas: Interstate 10, 154 fatalities

Utah: Interstate 15, 51 fatalities

Washington: Interstate 5, 57 fatalities

The report includes several safety tips, including a vehicle maintenance checklist and sources to help travelers plot their routes in advance.

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In 2016, California’s overall fatality rate was 1.06 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled, compared with a nationwide rate of 1.18 deaths per million vehicle miles traveled.


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