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Blog category: Driving

Most Dangerous Roads in LA

6 min read

Do you plan on driving in the Los Angeles area anytime soon? If so, it’s important to be aware that an increasing number of the area’s residents are starting to emerge from their pandemic-induced isolation. More Californians are returning to the office, starting to attend in-person events again, and just socializing more in general.

For a city where walking is not always possible or even desired, that means more drivers are back behind the wheel, and as a result, we’re seeing a spike in car accidents and traffic fatalities. Before the pandemic, a nationwide survey showed that California ranked as the fourth-worst state in the nation for accidents, citations, speeding tickets, and DUIs.

As a cautious and safe driver, you’ll want to know which Los Angeles roads are the most notorious. That way, you can try to avoid these areas during high-traffic periods and remain vigilant when you must traverse them. Below, we unpack information on the top eight most dangerous roads in LA.

1. Sierra Highway

One of the most dangerous highways in California is the Sierra Highway, which begins within the northernmost limits of the City of Los Angeles. There are a ton of reasons why this stretch of road is considered the most dangerous street in Los Angeles. Sierra Highway is infamous due to its being in desperate need of repair. The infrastructure supporting the roadway is outdated and badly needs to be fixed. Despite its poor condition, there’s never a good time to shut the roadway down for repairs because traffic is heavy both day and night.

With this in mind, be sure to be more aware of roadway hazards while driving on this highway. Look for potholes, road damage, and other potentially dangerous obstructions. If you tend to travel this road regularly at night, pay extra care as accident frequency increases at night due to poor visibility and driver fatigue.

2. Interstate 5

Dubbed “the five” by locals, Interstate 5 is the main north–south interstate highway on the West Coast. It runs parallel to the Pacific coast from Mexico to Canada and serves several large cities, including Los Angeles. Based on crash-rate statistics, the “five” qualifies as one of the most dangerous roads in Los Angeles: for every one mile of roadway, there is one fatal crash.

What makes this road so dangerous? The sheer volume of traffic and the high speeds being driven. If you need to use this road (and it’s kind of hard to avoid at times), try to be as careful as possible and avoid drivers who are speeding and/or driving aggressively.

3. Interstate 405

Bordering the southern and western parts of the Greater Los Angeles urban area, the I-405 is the busiest and most congested freeway in the nation, making it also one of the most dangerous. In addition to being used by commuters and freight vehicles, the 405 also serves the three area airports: Los Angeles International Airport, Long Beach Airport, and Orange County's John Wayne Airport.

Along with seasoned Angelenos rushing all over the city, you’ll encounter tourists trying to navigate this stretch of the highway trying to return rental cars and catch flights. Be on the lookout for erratic driving, including sudden lane changes, that could signal an inexperienced, lost, or distracted driver.

4. Route 74

While State Route 74 doesn’t actually go through Los Angeles, it deserves a mention as one of the most dangerous highways in California. SR 74 runs from San Juan Capistrano in Orange County to Palm Desert in Riverside County. In addition to drivers going way too fast on a congested roadway, the 74 features a lot of curves and bends and almost constant construction work, making this the trifecta of highway danger.

If you must travel on this road, be aware of the construction crews. Slow down when you approach these areas — it could save lives. And since speeding fines are usually doubled or even tripled in construction areas, reducing speed will help you avoid huge penalties for driving infractions.

5. Route 118

Running west to east through Ventura and Los Angeles counties, Route 118 is yet another LA road that suffers from a lack of support. Old and damaged infrastructure coupled with a heavy volume of traffic makes Route 118 more dangerous than other roads in the area.

If you use this route in the morning or afternoon, then prepare to hit a good amount of traffic. Stay safe behind the wheel by avoiding speeding or erratic drivers and remain calm when faced with stalled traffic or the inevitable accidents and fender benders you’re bound to encounter if Route 118 is part of your daily commute.

6. State Route 1

State Route 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway, (PCH) parallels the Pacific Coast from Orange County all the way up to Mendocino County. This scenic route is also known for a high number of accidents. What can make Route 1 so dangerous are the breathtaking views you’ll see while driving in either direction.

The views of the Pacific Ocean often distract tourist drivers to the point of them slowing down or even stopping in the middle of the road to gawk and take photos. Bordered by cliffs on one side, this highway demands your full attention at all times. Taking your eyes off the road to look at the spectacular vistas — for even a second or two — could spell disaster.

You need to stay aware of where you are on this road and remain cautious of what other drivers are doing, too. It’s not uncommon to see awestruck drivers suddenly swerve in or out of lookout areas into oncoming traffic. As if sheer cliffs and twists and turns weren’t enough, you may also need to contend with rockslides and mudslides, and traffic backups in parts. If you’re in a hurry, you may want to forego the scenic beauty that is PCH and choose a more direct and safer route.

7. Interstate 710

Officially known as the Long Beach Freeway, I-710 runs north from Long Beach to Valley Boulevard and follows the course of the Los Angeles River. Interstate 710 stretches for only 20 miles, but constant pedestrian traffic often leads to a high number of crashes on this road. If you find yourself navigating this roadway, be on the lookout for pedestrians and slow down accordingly.

8. Route 101

US 101 is the major north–south highway, stretching from Los Angeles County up to Washington State. The California portion of the 101 is the longest highway of any kind in California. Add high-volume traffic and frequent twists and turns and you have one of the most dangerous highways in California — especially if you try to speed on it.

Remain Vigilant on Los Angeles Roads

If you call LA home, or your job has you driving on any of these Los Angeles roads regularly, remain as vigilant as possible. Using your best judgment and obeying the posted speed limits could help you avoid an accident. However, even the safest and most cautious drivers can still get involved in a crash through no fault of their own. For that reason, you should always have up-to-date car insurance to protect yourself and your vehicle.

If you’re already a Wawanesa member, check with one of our helpful agents that you have enough coverage. If you’re thinking about switching, get a free auto insurance quote now and discover the Wawanesa difference.

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