The Dangerous American Highway You Should Steer Clear Of For A Safer Road Trip

The American road trip is the stuff of legends, ever since famed beat author Jack Kerouac published "On The Road" in the 50s, everyone with a hankering to see more of the country has hopped in their car and thrown caution to the wind as they traversed the many interstates that can take you from Manhattan to Big Sur. However, some of those interstates have more of a questionable reputation than others. In fact, when it comes to danger, there is one interstate that government officials are warning you should either traverse with extreme caution, or avoid altogether.

In 2022, car insurance website Zebra used government data to tabulate the top 10 most dangerous American interstates (and in many cases, deadliest) in the country, basing the results on the number of fatalities per 100 miles. The report found that I-20, which is only 1,539 miles long, ranked all the way up at the number two spot. In 2019, I-20, which runs through Texas and the Southeast, clocked 208 fatalities — which means that for every 100 miles, there were 13.52 deaths. That's an incredibly high number for such a short stretch of road. Over a period of six years (2010-2016), there were a heartbreaking 594 deaths on I-20.  So before you load your Spotify playlist with "Born to Be Wild" and hop in your car, here's why you should steer clear of I-20 on your next road trip

Fatalies often occur on the I-20

Zebra says it used 2019 data for its list ranking because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, upon which they based their list, had "yet to release its full data for 2020 and 2021." Yet, if you've never driven along I-20, you might be surprised to learn how often that stretch of road has been in the headlines since 2019. On New Year's Day, 2024, a section of I-20 was shut down in Georgia when a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car, per WSB-TV Atlanta. A few days later on January 6, one person was killed and others were injured after a car crash in Atlanta, per 11 Alive. In November 2023, Fox 5 Atlanta reported a tractor trailer crash killed one man in the same spot where three people died a few days earlier on Halloween. I-20 isn't just accident-prone — it's proven fatal.

If you absolutely must drive along the I-20, make sure to exercise a huge degree of caution, always check your mirrors, go the speed limit, and don't take risks (like speeding up to zip through a yellow light or tail-gaiting). There is one big way you can protect yourself on your road trip and that takes place before you even step into your car.

Protect yourself with insurance

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that an estimated 42,915 people died in roadway collisions in 2021, which was the highest number in 16 years, per CNBC, and that number includes pedestrians and cyclists. So driving in this country is definitely dangerous no matter where you are. That's why it's always important to have medical, life, and car insurance in case of the unthinkable. 

Interestingly enough, Forbes reports that South Carolina — one of the states through which the I-20 runs — doesn't require all drivers to have car insurance if they meet certain requirements. One requirement is that uninsured drivers pay an annual $600 fee called an "uninsured motorist fee," and drivers must carry proof with them. An uninsured motorist fee is not an insurance policy, so if you don't have car insurance in South Carolina and end up in a crash, you definitely don't want to be paying out of pocket. So before you embark on your road trip, try to avoid the I-20 if you can. But if you can't, make sure you're covered. And don't text and drive!