The United States may not have anything like Bolivia's "death road," but for highway deaths per capita, the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. as much more dangerous than most northern European countries at 11 highway deaths per 100,000 population per year—three times the death rate of the U.K. These are some of our deadliest stretches of pavement.
I-10 in Arizona
Although Interstate 10 runs the entire width of the U.S., the 150-mile stretch from Phoenix to the California border is particularly dangerous, with this section through lightly populated desert seeing up to 85 deaths in a single year, according to the website i10Accidents.com. The entire state death toll in Arizona is only about 700 for all roads in an average year.
I-26 in South Carolina
An unusually short section of I-26 was identified as one of the deadliest roads in South Carolina by the Charleston Post and Courier. Overall, the newspaper reported in 2010 that from 2000 to 2010, federal and state records show 325 people died in 286 wrecks on I-26 in South Carolina. But the paper analyzed crash data on a few short sections of I-26 and found it suffered double the death rate of busier sections of the highway near Charleston. Seven of the nine fatalities in 2009, for example, involved cars hitting trees and rolling over in ditches, according to the Post and Courier, which also reported this section of roadway has few guardrails, yet the slopes to side road ditches are steep.
Highway 550 in Colorado
The 25-mile stretch of Highway 550 in southwestern Colorado that connects the antique tourist towns of Ouray and Silverton reaches 11,000 feet above sea level as it passes through Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains. The scariest part of the road is that it lacks guardrails, which are absent to allow for removing snow and avalanche debris. There are no shoulders on much of this section, either, so weaving off the road means a plunge down the side of the mountain. This section of 550 is known unofficially as the "million dollar highway," though conflicting stories of the name's origin include the cost of building or paving the road, as well as the amount of gold and silver that were excavated when the road was built in 1926.
Highway 2 in Montana
According to the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota, which calls Highway 2 one of the nation's most dangerous roads, Montana has the highest fatality rate in the U.S. That assertion is backed up by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's findings that rural roads are more dangerous than urban ones. Why? The reasons include long transportation times for ambulances to get crash victims to hospitals—an average of 80 minutes in the vast plains, where in cities the average is 15 minutes, according to Montana's department of transportation data. Plus, the sparse traffic means drivers drive faster, and U.S. Highway 2 crosses the northern and most remote part of the state.
U.S. 431, Alabama
It's about 98 miles from Phenix City to Dothan, Ala., on U.S. 431, which has been labeled as one of America's most dangerous roads by outlets such as Reader's Digest. Just last month, for example, four people were killed when a pickup truck carrying more than 10 people rolled over. Overall, there were 20 deaths along this stretch between 1999 to 2010, leaving the road dotted with white crosses placed by victims' families and friends. Prior to finishing a major four-lane conversion in 2010, officials cited traffic density and limited visibility on the mostly two-lane sections as the reasons U.S. 431 has been called one of the nation's most dangerous roads. In 2004, construction to widen a 16-mile stretch of the highway began. Crews also began to replace bridges. Today most of the highway is four lanes wide except for the sections that run through small towns.