The state of Oregon may be known as a hipster paradise, with rivers of Kombucha and vintage cardigans as far as the eye can see. Oregon is also home to some of the most dangerous roads in the entire United States. From crowded urban intersections to steep cliffs that plunge directly into the cold green waters of the Pacific Ocean, driving in Oregon can be an especially dangerous activity for the uninitiated.
Here are the top 5 most dangerous roads in Oregon and where to find them, or possibly avoid them.
#5: The Menacing Speeds of Highway 97
Local residents living near Highway 97 know all too well how dangerous the two-lane road can be. And, after state officials raised the speed limit from 55 to 65 miles per hour, the highway has only gotten deadlier. Between the years 2010 and 2015 seventeen people died in over two dozen accidents on one of the most dangerous roads in Oregon. While the Oregon Department of Transportation released data showing that 92% of auto-related crashes were due to driver error or inattention, many local residents maintain that the laws governing the highway need to be revisited. With the ever-increasing use of cell phones while driving, one has to wonder if raising the speed limit so dramatically on a two-lane roadway such as Highway 97 is worth the risk.
#4: Interstate 5’s Reckless Wrecks
Interstate 5 is surely familiar to anyone who has traveled up and down the West Coast. I-5 cuts north and south from the Canadian border down to San Diego. Passing through Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, Interstate 5 sees some of the heaviest traffic along its 1,400 mile span. The more traffic there is on the road, the greater the chances an accident may occur. In fact, I-5 is so deadly that close to 500 people have died in car accidents on the massive highway between 1994 and 2008. And, this rate has not slowed in recent years, with 112 deaths reported in 2014 alone. Interstate 5 is easily one of the most dangerous highways in the entire United States, so if you find yourself on I-5 be sure to stay alert and exercise caution.
#3: The Bad News About Dangerous Barbur Boulevard
When it comes to pedestrians and bicyclists, Barbur Boulevard is about as dangerous as it gets. For years now, the boulevard has been notoriously dangerous to cross for anyone on foot or on two wheels. Way back in 2010, two pedestrians were killed within weeks of each other. Pedestrian accidents are some of the rarest types of accidents, so to have two on the same street points to a bigger problem at play. The two tragic deaths did, indeed, spur action from the local city council and the Oregon Department of Transportation at the time. Yet, the accidents continued to pile up. To this day, Barbur Boulevard remains one of the most dangerous roads in all of Oregon and it will likely continue to be dangerous in the coming years.
#2: Highway 199’s Cruel Curves
While Highway 199 may have some of the most scenic views, slowly winding its way north through the Klamath and Rogue River-Siskiyou National forests, it’s one of the most uncompromising roads in all of Oregon. Though the highway is only 80 miles long, stretching from Crescent City in Northern California into Oregon, the number of accidents on the road is sky high. There were a total of 46 auto-related fatalities along Highway 199 between 2011 and 2015. During this time period there was 1 death for every half mile of highway, which is just a truly staggering rate for such a short stretch of road. The problem, as anyone with Google Maps can see, is that the road is little more than a series of terrifying turns through remote and undeveloped forests. Excessive speeding is almost surely the cause of the majority of Highway 199’s accidents. Many motorists zip along the highway at speeds that would be considered too fast even on major interstates. Highway 199 may be beautiful, but it is also deadly.
#1: The Calamitous Oregon Coast Highway
Part of the iconic Highway 101, the Oregon Coast Highway has (arguably) the best views in the entire Pacific Northwest. Winding along the blue-green waters of the Pacific Ocean, it’s hard to drive on the Oregon Coast Highway and not be tempted to gaze into the horizon. But what makes the highway so very beautiful, also makes it dangerous. With its sheer cliffs, dramatic turns, and steep inclines, the highway proves to be fatal for far too many. On average, there are 35 auto-related deaths along the Oregon Coast Highway each and every year. Even if you diligently keep your eyes on the road ahead, you still have to worry about other drivers rubbernecking at the picturesque scenery.
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