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Are These The MOST Dangerous Roads In California? 🤔

Everyone loves a California roadtrip.

And some of these roadtrips have some crazy views!

But if you’re not careful you could find yourself in a car crash.

NOT a good way to spend the first day of a roadtrip.

This post covers some of the more dangerous roads in California where you REALLY need to keep your wits about you.

Obviously, you should be paying attention to the road WHEREVER you’re driving, but with these ones you need to be extra alert.

Do you agree with the list?

In no particular order….

1. State Route 99 / CA-99

Ever cruised down State Route 99 in California?

This road is a real journey through the heartland, connecting places like Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento.

It’s the go-to road for checking out California’s Central Valley – think great food, wine, and some cool country music vibes.

But here’s the catch: CA-99 is also kind of infamous.

It’s known to be one of the most dangerous roads in the U.S.

From 2011 to 2015, there were 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles, especially around Fresno.

The main culprits? 

Outdated road designs, super dark stretches at night, and too much speeding and drunk driving.

There’s been a ton of work to make it safer, but when you’re driving here, especially at night, you gotta stay sharp.

2. U.S. Route 199 (Redwood Highway)

U.S. Route 199, the Redwood Highway, weaves its way from Crescent City, California to Grants Pass, Oregon.

Spanning about 80 miles, it’s a road-tripper’s dream with jaw-dropping redwood forests and stunning natural vistas.

But, it’s not all just gorgeous views; this highway has a risky side.

The road is narrow and twisty, especially as it snakes through the mountains.

And let’s not forget the distractions – those epic views can take your eyes off the road.

Despite its beauty, U.S. Route 199 demands respect and careful driving due to its challenging conditions.

So, if you’re heading out to soak up the scenic glory, keep your wits about you on the drive.

It’s a beautiful but potentially treacherous journey.

Related Reading: The 10 BEST Roadtrips in California

3. Interstate 5

The I-5, is a massive freeway slicing through the entirety of California.

It starts at the Mexican border, winds through cities like San Diego, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles, and heads straight up to the Oregon border.

In Los Angeles County, I-5 transforms into a high-octane driving experience.

Think relentless traffic, high speeds, and a non-stop flow of cars – it’s the ultimate urban driving challenge.

But, it’s not all stress and speed; the drive through the Central Valley offers a calmer, scenic contrast.

Still, in LA, you’ve got to keep your guard up.

Peak hours turn it into a sea of vehicles, where staying sharp is key.

I-5 from Del Paso Road to Railyards Boulevard is also another area where crashes are more common.

I-5 is your fast lane through California’s diverse landscapes and cityscapes, just remember to stay alert!

4. State Route 138 / CA-138

State Route 138/ CA-138, also known as the Pearblossom Highway, has quite a reputation in California.

It runs from Interstate 15 near Cajon Pass to Palmdale, weaving through a mix of scenic vistas and hazardous terrains.

This route has been notoriously labeled by some people as “death road” and “highway of death” due to its high fatality rate.

Before improvements that started in 2006, CA-138 averaged about 10 fatalities per year.

The danger comes from its winding paths, especially as it approaches and traverses Cajon Pass.

Despite recent efforts to widen the highway and improve safety features, the road still demands cautious driving.

CA-138’s landscape of rolling hills and desert terrain adds to its challenging and sometimes deceptive nature.

If you’re planning to travel this route, it’s crucial to be aware of its history and drive with extra vigilance.

5. Interstate 15

I-15 stretches from San Diego to the Nevada state line, connecting major urban areas and traversing diverse terrains.

From the bustling cityscapes of San Diego and San Bernardino to the serene deserts near Victorville and Barstow, I-15 offers a unique slice of California life.

But I-15 is also known for its challenging driving conditions.

The route through Cajon Pass, for instance, is particularly notorious. 

Here, the freeway ascends steep grades, requiring trucks to adhere to lower speed limits and offering runaway truck ramps as safety measures.

Driving on I-15 means encountering everything from urban congestion to long stretches of desert road. 

The route’s diversity is matched by its complexity, demanding drivers’ attention throughout.

Despite improvements over the years, I-15 remains a freeway where vigilance is key, especially in areas like the Cajon Pass and the High Desert.

6. Interstate 10

Starting off in Santa Monica, I-10 kicks off its journey by the Pacific Ocean and weaves through the bustling Los Angeles Basin.

It’s not just any freeway; it’s a key route that ties together diverse cities like Los Angeles, Pomona, San Bernardino, and Beaumont, before reaching all the way to Blythe on the Arizona border.

But driving on I-10 is no walk in the park. 

The freeway is notorious for its heavy traffic, especially in the Los Angeles area.

Its stretch through Los Angeles is infamous for congestion, often landing spots on the list of top congested areas in the U.S.

It also makes it onto lists of the most dangerous interstates in the US fairly often.

7. Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway)

Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), is a picturesque route that represents the quintessential California driving experience.

Starting in Orange County at Dana Point, this iconic highway stretches northward, hugging the coastline. 

It’s famed for its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches, and rugged cliffs.

As you drive through places like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Santa Monica, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of California’s stunning coastal scenery.

However, the beauty of this road comes with challenges.

Landslides and erosion can lead to closures and rerouting, especially along the more rugged sections near Big Sur.

There’s also a hell of a lot of bends in the Big Sur area.

Despite its occasional perils, the PCH is a driver’s delight, offering access to a string of beaches, parks, and coastal attractions. 

Remember, while the PCH is a stunning route, its popularity and scenic views can be distracting. 

So, when you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road and enjoy the journey safely.

Related Reading: The 10 BEST Roadtrips in California

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Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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