Texas is known for its sprawling deserts and wide-open landscapes. An extensive network of interstate and state highways serves the region, connecting different counties, cities, and even neighboring states. Nonetheless, the roads that traverse Texas can pose significant dangers to motorists and residents of the state.
Most accidents that happen on Texas roads are preventable. Human error, the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, is to blame for most crashes that make Texas highways extremely dangerous. Driver errors such as speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving, combined with the heavy presence of large trucks on these highways, increase the likelihood of catastrophic accidents.
Unfamiliarity with the roads among out-of-town drivers and poor maintenance of some roads also contribute to the frequent crashes on Texas highways. Knowing more about these dangerous roads in Texas can help drivers know what to expect and help them stay safe while on the road.
Which Are the Most Dangerous Roads in Texas?
Here are some of the roads that drivers should always be extra careful on when driving through Texas:
U.S. Route 285
Among the most dangerous highways in the region is U.S. Route 285 — often referred to as the “Death Highway” by locals and travelers. The road links West Texas to New Mexico and Colorado and passes through isolated regions with limited access to emergency services. Besides the isolation, frequent encounters with large commercial vehicles and oil tankers increase the risk of accidents among drivers. Reckless driving behaviors, such as speeding, are also common on this highway.
A lack of adequate funding for road maintenance and infrastructure development is one of the reasons why some parts of this road remain dilapidated. Without sufficient funds, it has been challenging to implement much-needed safety improvements along this highway. Additionally, private companies such as oil and gas companies often prioritize profits over safety, compromising on safety measures.
The Texas Department of Transportation reported three fatal crashes on this highway in 2022, resulting in six fatalities and three injuries.
Interstate 20 (I-20), which stretches from the Texas-New Mexico border to the Texas-Louisiana border, is another highway that poses unique dangers to drivers. It passes through some seriously remote and dry areas in Texas. Drivers using this road can easily drive hundreds of miles without a rest stop, leading to fatigue-related accidents. Additionally, the region’s extreme weather conditions, including sudden dust storms and heavy winds, further amplify the risks for drivers on I-20.
In 2022, the Texas Department of Transportation recorded 48 traffic crashes on I-20. These crashes resulted in 56 fatalities, 31 bodily injuries, and 10 non-injury, non-fatal crashes.
State Highway 302
State Highway 302 (SH 302) is known for its treacherous curves and steep inclines, such as the Devil’s Backbone, which is a twisty stretch between Wimberly and Blanco. The highway’s design demands the utmost concentration and skill from drivers. Heavy truck traffic traveling to oil fields in the Permian Basin also increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents on this highway.
Some 2022 statistics regarding traffic crashes on this highway include:
- Fatal crash count: 9
- Non-injury, non-fatal: 3
- Total number of fatalities: 11
- Total number of injuries: 4
Interstate 10 (I-10) connects Texas with California, Arizona, and New Mexico to the west and Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to the east. The highway is particularly susceptible to animal crossings, especially during dawn and dusk, leading to potential collisions with wildlife. Additionally, I-10 experiences heavy traffic from long-haul truckers and vacationers, which can result in traffic congestion and reckless driving behaviors.
In 2022, there were 140 fatal crashes on I-10, resulting in 153 fatalities and 73 bodily injuries. The Texas Department of Transportation also recorded 22 non-injury and non-fatal traffic crashes on this highway.
U.S. Route 90
U.S. Route 90 is another dangerous road in Texas. This highway spans the region and is characterized by rugged terrain, including steep grades and narrow sections. These conditions demand skilled driving and heightened awareness, which may not be shared by all drivers. The highway also intersects with numerous local roads, increasing the risk of collisions at intersections.
Below are some of the relevant 2022 traffic crashes associated with this highway:
- 44 fatal crashes
- 54 fatalities and 36 injured individuals
- Seven non-fatal crashes
State Highway 118
State Highway 118 (SH 118) traverses the remote and picturesque landscapes of Big Bend National Park in West Texas. While the scenery is breathtaking, this highway's steep inclines, sharp curves, and narrow stretches pose a challenge even to the most experienced drivers.
The remoteness of SH 118 poses significant risks, as it can take hours for emergency services to reach motor vehicle accident sites or stranded motorists. Wildlife, such as deer and javelinas, also increases the likelihood of collisions on SH 118, especially at night.
How To Stay Safe on Texas Highways
Exercising caution and minding the safety of other motorists while on the road is key to minimizing collisions on Texas highways. This is particularly crucial when navigating challenging highway terrain and conditions. In addition to strict adherence to traffic signs and signals, the following tips can help drivers stay safe while on the road:
- Always obey posted speed limits and drive cautiously, particularly through challenging sections.
- Approach intersections with utmost caution and anticipate cross-traffic movements.
- Exercise caution while navigating uneven road surfaces and promptly report any road hazards to local authorities.
- When overtaking trucks, exercise extreme caution and wait for clear visibility before attempting to pass.
- Slow down and remain vigilant for wildlife crossings, especially during low-light conditions.
- Always wear seatbelts when driving on Texas roads.
- Don't engage in reckless behaviors such as tailgating, drunk driving, and speeding, or get distracted while on Texas highways.
By following the above safety tips, motorists in Texas can ensure they protect themselves from the dangers of careless or reckless driving as well as other road users, including motorcyclists and pedestrians.
- What Is a Catastrophic Injury? Forbes Advisor. Accessed on July 25, 2003.
- Driving safety and laws. Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- I-20 Texas Corridor Study. Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- The Devil's Backbone: Ghost Riders from Blanco to Wimberly, Texas. US105FM. Accessed July 25, 2023.
- Permian Basin. Texas State Historical Association. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- I-10 Texas Corridor Study: Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- TxDOT Dashboards. Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- Big Bend. National Park Service. Accessed on July 25, 2023.
- Traffic signs and signals: Texas Department of Transportation. Accessed on July 25, 2023.