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Study: The Deadliest Roads in Texas

People die every day on the road in Texas due to preventable car accidents. According to TXDOT data, in 2021 in Texas, one person died every two hours, and a reportable crash occurred every 57 seconds.

At The Doan Law Firm, we realize that a fatal car accident can occur anywhere, at any time.  We also understand that these crashes significantly alter the lives of the victim’s family and everyone else involved. Because of this, we wanted to identify the deadliest stretches of road in Texas to inform citizens and help them stay safe while on the road.

We worked with data visualization agency 1Point21 Interactive to analyze fatal car crash data from the NHTSA. This data provided the insight needed to identify the top fatal five-mile stretches of road in the state. Below is more information on the top 9 deadliest stretches, as well as an in-depth breakdown of the top five.

Table: A Detailed Look at the Deadliest Road Stretches in Texas

The deadliest five-mile stretches of road in Texas are all highways and freeways and can be found in Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Due to high population numbers in all three of these cities, the highways and freeways see heavy traffic, especially during rush hours.

Rank Crashes Deaths City Route Start and End
1 88 94 Houston TX-249 Fallbrook Dr – Veterans Memorial Dr
2 80 83 Houston I-45 exits 53-57B
3 79 85 Dallas I-35E exits 426-430C
4 77 81 Dallas I-635 exits 15-21
5 74 76 Houston I-69 exits 118-123
6 73 79 Dallas I-30 exits 48A-54
7 69 73 Houston I-45 exits 36-43A
8 67 69 Austin I-35 exits 233-237A
9 65 67 Dallas I-35E exits 430C-436A

The top five deadliest roads are all located in areas that are a mixture of commercial, industrial, and residential areas. Additionally, four of the top five contain at least one interchange with another highway or freeway. Interchanges significantly increase the chance of accidents because cars and trucks are merging lanes at high speeds.

Interactive Map: The Deadliest Roads in Texas

*This map is interactive.  Use the mouse wheel or touch gestures to zoom in and out and reveal more data about each stretch.

A Closer Look at the Top 5

Number 1: TX-249, Fallbrook Dr to Veterans Memorial Dr
City: Houston
Crashes: 88
Fatalities: 94

TX-249 is an arterial roadway, meaning that is a high-capacity urban road that provides space for major traffic movement. The area that this five-mile stretch runs through is a major commercial area. On both sides of the highway, the road is lined with businesses, restaurants, and stores. There are three main crossroads and several other smaller crossroads throughout this five-mile stretch.

Number 2: I-45, Exit 53 (Airline Dr) to Exit 57B (W Mount Houston Rd)
City: Houston
Crashes: 80
Fatalities: 83

Along this five-mile stretch, there is only one interchange with another highway, TX-261. Immediately next to the freeway along this five-mile stretch are businesses, and just beyond the businesses are residential areas. On the Exit 53 (Airline Dr) end of this stretch, there is a barber college, a large shopping mall, and several restaurants. The Exit 57B (W Mount Houston Rd) end of this stretch, is an industrial area, with several car lots, a motorcycle shop, and a Walmart warehouse. 

Number 3: I-35E, Exit 426 (Ewing Ave Marshalls Ave) to Exit 430C (Wycliff Ave)
City: Dallas
Crashes: 79
Fatalities: 85 

The third deadliest five-mile stretch of road in Texas is in Dallas, on I-35E. There are three interchanges along this stretch, one with Dallas North Tollway, TX-366, and I-30. Lining this stretch of freeway, you can find UT Southwestern Medical Center, several hotels, the Dallas Mavericks Stadium, Courthouse, Reunion Tower, and several restaurants. The area surrounding this stretch is a mix of commercial, industrial, and residential. On the exit 426 (Ewing Ave Marshalls Ave) end, there is a middle school and a large residential neighborhood. At the Exit 430 (Wycliff Ave) end, there is the Dallas Children’s Medical Center, a large industrial/warehouse area, and a hotel.

Number 4: I-635, Exit 15 (Miller Rd Royal Ln) to Exit 21 (Preston Rd Montfort Dr)
City: Dallas
Crashes: 77
Fatalities: 81

Along this five-mile stretch, there are some commercial areas, a college, and a large corporate building center. Additionally, there are many residential areas as well. On the Exit 15 (Miller Rd Royal Ln) side, there is an industrial area with supply stores, trucking companies and their truck yards, and an expansive residential area. On the Exit 21 (Preston Rd) end, there is a commercial area, several shopping centers, big box stores, and some residential neighborhoods. Just beyond this exit is an interchange with Dallas North Tollway. There is also another interchange with SR-75 within this five-mile stretch.

Number 5: I-69, Exit 118 (S Gessner Rd Beechnut St) to Exit 123 (I-610 interchange)
City: Houston
Crashes: 74
Fatalities: 76

Along this five-mile stretch is mostly commercial area, hotels, car lots, and various other businesses, intermingled with residential areas such as apartment buildings and homes. There are three interchanges along this stretch where I-69 crosses with Westpark Tollway, SR-59, and I-610. Off the exit 118 (S Gessner Rd Beechnut St) side, there are several restaurants, Huston Christian University, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, a largely residential area, and an athletic complex. On the Exit 123 (I-610) side, there is the Vet Tech Institute of Houston, some commercial areas, and residential neighborhoods.

Data, Methodology, and Fair Use

This study was conducted using National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data on fatal crashes that took place on roads in Texas between the years 2000-2019.

During the 20-year study period, more than 700 people died on these nine five-mile stretches of roads.

Why are there so many fatalities on these roads and in Texas in general? There are several reasons.

For one, the three cities where the deadliest roads are located are highly populated, which can cause congestion and traffic on the roads. Houston, which is home to the top two deadliest roads, and makes up four of the top nine, has a population of 2.8 million. Dallas, which also makes up four of the top nine deadliest roads, has a population of 1.2 million. And Austin, which is home to the 8th deadliest road in Texas, has a population of just under 1 million.  With this many people on the road, dangerous or unsafe behaviors are more and more likely to impact public safety.   In fact, data collected by TXDOT reveals that most car accidents in Texas are caused by driver inattention and speeding.

Texas also has significant commercial vehicle traffic.  Collisions involving large, tractor-trailers are much more likely to result in fatal injuries than those involving passenger vehicles only. According to the data collected by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) Texas is home to 13 of the top 100 Truck Bottlenecks in the US, this is more than any other state. Truck bottlenecks are areas where a high volume of freight trucks pass through and contribute to the cause of congestion on roadways.

How can drivers stay safe?

When driving, Texas drivers should keep this information in mind while on all freeways and highways in the state, but especially while in or around the nine areas listed here. To reduce the risk of being in an accident, drivers should drive slower, avoid distractions, use caution when changing lanes, and avoid driving during rush hours when at all possible.

If you would like to use any of the information or images found in this study for reporting or republishing purposes, please provide a link back to this page for credit.

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