California’s Deadliest Highways

tour bus drives along scenic route
tour bus drives along scenic route

There are many reasons why some roads are more dangerous than others. Heavier traffic locations, sub-par design, poorly maintained conditions, and weather conditions can all factor in. Some states, however, contain more deadly roads than others. 

Although California is arguably one of the most beautiful states to travel by motor vehicle, it also has its fair share of dangerous roads. This west coast locale has seen all too many cases argued by wrongful death lawyers over its major roadways. Here are a few of California’s deadliest highways.


Located east of San Bernardino County, SR-2 is made up of 87 miles of steep climbing perilous switchbacks and blind curves that run through the San Gabriel Mountains. Also known as the Angeles Crest Scenic Byway, this road has beautiful lookouts and views that can also be deadly. During a span of 7 years, nearly 50 people lost their lives on this highway. 

US 101

This road is 808 miles of winding pavement that skirts along the beautiful California coast. The southern terminus is the busiest freeway interchange in the world. US 101 runs through popular locations such as Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco. High traffic and twisting terrain make it one of the most dangerous roads anywhere, averaging a fatality every 1.3 miles over 7 years. 


This highway is 171 miles of road that runs over the Colorado River. Also known as The Border Friendship Route, I-8 runs from San Diego, California to Casa Grande in Arizona. Known for extreme winds that reach up to 100 miles per hour, I-8 had 134 fatal car accidents in the course of 7 years, for an average of one death per 1.2 miles. 


One of the longest roads in California, SR-99 is 424 miles of winding rural roads that are poorly lit and attract a lot of drunk drivers. Known as the Golden State Highway, SR-99’s portion that runs through Fresno, California was the deadliest stretch of highway in the entire country in 2018 with 411 deaths over a 7-year span.


This road is 215 miles of steep grades that run through winding mountain terrain. Running through highly populated San Diego County and the Cuyamaca Mountains, SR-78 averages more than one fatal car accident every three miles, with 62 deaths over the course of 7 years. Because of the steep grades, always be sure your brakes are in good working condition before traveling this road.


This 90 mile stretch of road runs from the Mexican border crossing at Calexico, through the Imperial Valley, and into the Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert of Southern California’s Riverside County. SR-86 started out as a 2-lane highway with access from several rural roads. Since becoming a 4-lane highway, it’s heavily trafficked by trucks and semis, contributing to more deadly accidents.


This road runs from Mexico to Oregon over 796 miles and is one of the deadliest roads in the world. Over 700 deaths from car accidents during a 7-year period, an average of one death per every mile of road. Running through the highly populated Los Angeles County, the #1 city for road rage, heavy traffic, and semi-trucks speed to get to their destination.