Southern California drivers will be the first to point out aggression on the road. While locals are skilled at pointing out slower drivers from out of town, the fast-paced nature of Southern California leads many to take more risks and move faster being the wheel. In combination with Southern California’s population and traffic congestion, it’s no surprise that our roadways are some of the most dangerous in the United States.

Fatal Accidents in Southern California

A recent ValuePenguin report identified the most dangerous highways in the country. Out of their top five, two of those highways run through Southern California. The I-10 freeway runs across the entire country, from California to Florida. Based on total number of fatalities, this road came out to be the deadliest with 1,342 fatal crashes between 2011 and 2015. While 1-10 is a main trans-continental highway that courses from coast to coast, its location in Southern California runs right through San Bernardino county. This freeway also ranks as one of the darkest highways and one with the most drunk drivers – largely contributing to the fatality rate. San Bernardino car accident lawyers agree, claiming nighttime accidents and drinking and driving are the most common causes of accidents in the area.

The number one most dangerous roadway as determined by the report is SR-99, which runs through California’s central valley. This road accumulated 62.3 fatal accidents per 100 miles, more than any other highway in the nation between 2011 and 2015. While the majority of those crashes took place in Fresno, the 99 runs south through Bakersfield and Kern counties all the way to the Grapevine. Anyone driving north from Southern California could easily be routed to the 99. Similar to I-10, drunk drivers and darkness contribute to the key safety issues. SR-99 ranks first for darkest highways, with nearly 40% of fatal accidents occurring at night. The main reason for this is a lack of lighting available along the road, leading drivers to depend on their headlights.

SR-99 also ranks second for highways with the most drunk drivers, with I-10 falling fourth in this category. In the same five-year time frame, SR-99 experienced 16.9 fatal accidents involving a drunk driver per 100 miles. I-10 experienced a lower rate with 12.6 fatal crashes.

blue car with smashed front headlight close up

Most Dangerous Cities

While these two highways rank the highest, other popular roads in Southern California aren’t exempt from dangerous crashes. The I-5, which runs north from San Diego, was the 7th most deadly highway averaging 43.9 deaths per 100 miles. In 2016, eight fatal crashes occurred within just a quarter mile of the I-405 and I-605 interchange in Los Angeles. According to the Orange County Register, 2016 brought a total 3,623 fatal crashes to California. The top three counties for deadly car and motorcycle crashes were Los Angeles (794), Riverside (262), and San Bernardino (256).

While poor lighting and drunk driving are two major causes of these accidents, others report speed, distracted driving, swerving, and overall carelessness as significant factors in safety on the road. Driving too fast caused nearly 20% of the total crashes in 2016. When traveling in Southern California, remember to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for any potential dangers or distractions on the highway.