California is home to several of the most dangerous highways in the United States, including Route 99 and Interstate 5 (I-5). Hundreds of motorists die in crashes each year on those roads, with many more sustaining serious injuries. ValuePenguin, a curator of data for the insurance and financial industries, ranks Route 99 as the deadliest highway in the country, averaging more than 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles, with 32 occurring in the city of Fresno alone. Knowing the dangers of traveling on California’s highways can help motorists avoid accidents. Keeping a checklist of what to do after an accident can improve the chances of making a better recovery if a crash occurs.
How Do California’s Roads Compare to Other States?
According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), California ranks in the middle compared to other states when it comes to the number of traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. FARS calculates fatalities in terms of vehicle miles traveled, which is different than traffic fatalities per mile of a given roadway.
California is the third largest state in geographical area, after Alaska and Texas. There are 174,991 miles of maintained roads in California, according to California’s Office of Traffic Safety. Of that total, more than 65,300 miles are county roads and an additional 16,000 are part of the state’s highway system. Most of those roads are not particularly dangerous. However, the overall safety of California’s roads makes Route 99 and I-5 stand out as particularly dangerous and worthy of attention. In 2019, more than 12,600 people in California suffered serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents, and 3,540 lost their lives, according to the National Safety Council.
What Makes Route 99 So Dangerous?
Route 99 is exceptionally dangerous for several reasons, including poor lighting, outdated design, and the behavior of motorists traversing its expansive miles. Today, Route 99 stretches the length of California’s Central Valley, running through more than 17 counties. When Route 99 was constructed almost 100 years ago, California’s population was sparse, and traffic was light. Today, tight interchanges leave little room for cars and trucks to merge on the highway, creating hazards when traffic is congested.
Poor lighting heightens the danger at night. In a typical year, nearly half of all fatal accidents on Route 99 occur after dark. Drunk driving also contributes to that grim statistic, as most alcohol-related crashes occur after 9:00 p.m. Speeding also plays a role in serious accidents on Route 99. Whereas most California highways have a speed limit of 65 miles per hour (mph), stretches of Route 99 have 70-mph speed limits. Officers patrolling those stretches often nab speeders going over 90 mph.
Truck Accidents on I-5
I-5 was constructed in the 1960s as a more modern alternative to Route 99, offering truckers a much faster route through the state. Today, I-5 extends from the Mexican border to Blaine, Washington. Although truck accidents are not as common as those involving only passenger cars, they are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries and death. A fully loaded tractor trailer is more than 30 times heavier than a typical passenger car.
Determining negligence in a truck accident can be far more complicated than a car crash. This makes dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident even more complicated and worthy of legal assistance. In an accident involving a commercial truck, multiple parties may be liable, including the trucking company, leasing company, and maintenance company or loaders, as well as the truck driver. The various companies involved normally will be represented by insurance companies with sophisticated lawyers seeking to minimize payments for damages. Therefore, it is critical for anyone involved in a truck accident to immediately contact a catastrophic injury lawyer for legal representation.
Truck Accident Settlements
ACTS Law has helped many innocent victims of catastrophic injuries. In a recent settlement, a plaintiff was violently rear-ended at a high rate of speed in a southbound lane on I-5. The victim was thrust into a delivery vehicle, causing another forceful collision. As a result, the plaintiff suffered catastrophic, life-altering injuries. ACTS Law pursued the claim and successfully recovered the victim’s full commercial insurance policy limits.
Tips for Traveling Safely
Many people choose to use Route 99 and I-5 to travel through California’s Central Valley. Knowing the inherent dangers of these highways can help reduce the risk of accidents. The following are tips for staying safe:
- Plan ahead. Drivers should map out rest stops in advance. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is particularly important to know what restaurants or roadside areas are open. Travelers should always pack plenty of snacks, water, and hand sanitizer.
- Avoid driving at risky times. Knowing that much of Route 99 is not well-lit at night, it is best to drive during the day. Avoiding night travel during the weekends can help motorists reduce the risk of accidents involving drunk drivers.
- Drive defensively. Drivers must always anticipate what another driver might do. It is best to avoid any motorists who are driving erratically. One should never confront aggressive drivers. The safest option is to let them pass and go on their way.
It is also helpful to make sure vehicles are well maintained. Tire pressure and fluids should be checked before traveling. Breaking down on a rural roadway is not only a hassle; it is also dangerous. Highway fatalities often occur when a stranded motorist is standing near a broken-down car.
Be Prepared for an Accident
The following tips can help drivers improve their chances for better outcomes should a car crash occur on Route 99, I-5, or any other California roadway:
- Check for injuries and call 911. Accidents can be unnerving. Drivers should turn off the vehicle, turn on the hazard lights, and take a deep breath. Someone should call 911 if there are any injuries or serious vehicle damage.
- Exchange information. After calling 911, those involved in the accident should wait for first responders to arrive. Drivers should exchange insurance information and contact details with other drivers, but do not confront them, no matter who may be at-fault. When police arrive, drivers should provide necessary information but refrain from giving any opinions about what happened.
- Document the scene. If it safe to do so, someone should take pictures of the accident scene and make notes about the road condition.
- Accept medical attention. Accident victims should always go to the hospital even if they think they are not badly hurt. Some long-lasting injuries do not appear until later. A medical examination may uncover serious internal injuries that deserve financial compensation later.
- Contact a catastrophic injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can provide counsel regarding insurance company settlement offers, which may be less than the amount of compensation deserved.
In the days following an accident, victims should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and minimize muscle pain. Victims should always follow up on all doctor’s appointments and treatments.
Los Angeles Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at ACTS Law Provide Skilled Legal Counsel to Victims of Tragic Accidents on California Highways
No one wants to be injured in a car accident. If a tragic accident does occur, reach out to the Los Angeles catastrophic injury lawyers at ACTS Law. Although we cannot change the past, we always put our energy, skill, and experience to work to make the future as bright as possible for accident victims by seeking justice. Financial compensation can help relieve some of the burden and pay for treatment to ensure a better outcome. If you or someone you know needs legal representation after an accident, call 833-ACTS-LAW or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. From our offices in San Diego and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout southern California.