Each day in Connecticut, a motor vehicle accident happens. While most are minor, some can be serious.
As part of their annual analysis, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reviews where accidents occur, the severity of those crashes, and the frequency of the crashes to name the most dangerous roadways in each state.
For residents of Connecticut, it should be no surprise that Interstate 95 was labeled the most dangerous highway in the state. But what about roadways? While you expect serious accidents to occur on a freeway, you are less guarded on your average roadway where speed limits are not as high as the interstate.
Connecticut’s Department of Transportation looked at the most dangerous roads in the state, and they identified those notorious for causing car accidents. If you live near these roadways, you probably already know the likelihood of accidents because you may have encountered traffic on the way to work or home each day as you pass by them.
In 2016, 311 people in the state lost their lives to highway accidents, which is the highest it had been in four years according to the Connecticut Crash Data Repository.
Before we dive into the list of the most dangerous roads, we must first identify what makes them so dangerous.
Factors Contributing to the Higher Accident Rates
Connecticut is no stranger to roadway collisions. It also doesn’t help that the state has a very harsh winter season, which only increases the odds for an accident. Today’s inattentive driver is less likely to pay attention to the roadway even in wintry conditions.
Some factors found to contribute to the increased numbers of accidents in the state include:
Today, people seem to want to get everywhere faster. Also, it does not help that, when you try to merge onto the highway, everyone is already averaging 70 miles per hour. Accidents at high speeds are common, because the faster a vehicle travels, the harder it is for that driver to maneuver and come to a safe stop.
Furthermore, people exceeding the speed limit increase the chances of a fatal collision, especially when speeding through intersections, neighborhoods, and school zones.
Anyone that encounters a Connecticut winter knows the roadway conditions. There is ice, slush, sleet, snow, and wet surfaces mixed with oil. The roads are slick, and applying the brakes will not help in slippery conditions. While your car’s wheels lock up, the vehicle continues to push forward, unable to stop – causing a rear-end collision.
It is best to drive under the speed limit in poor weather conditions, especially when roads are slippery or when you have minimal visibility in a snowstorm. By driving slower, you give yourself the extra time you need to come to a safe stop.
Tourists in the Fall
Connecticut’s backcountry is a tourist hotspot in the fall season, which means more people on the highways and rural roads. Also, with more tourists in the city who do not know their surroundings, you may have more encounters with people driving slower to find their destination, braking or turning unexpectedly, or not recognizing the road signals in the area that accidentally leads to a crash.
Distracted and Impaired Driving
Connecticut, just like other states in the country, has its fair share of distracted drivers and those driving while under the influence. Unfortunately, the numbers do not seem to be dwindling, and the number of distracted drivers continues to rise. All ages are guilty of distracted driving. And while it is commonly thought of as a “teen driver” issue, plenty of adults also engage in distracted driving.
The Aging Infrastructure of Connecticut Roadways
Sometimes, it is not another driver at all. Instead, it is the roadways themselves. In fact, some roads in the state are over 300 years old, and the aging infrastructure increases the odds of potholes and other deformities that can lead to an accident.
Following Too Closely
When you take driver’s education, you learn the proper tailing distance. But whether you apply that to everyday driving or not depends on the situation. Most drivers follow too close, and that increases the odds that the trailing driver is going to rear-end the car in front of them if they were to stop suddenly or if the trailing vehicle is not paying attention.
What Roadways, Intersections, and Highways are the Most Dangerous?
After compiling several reports, we have a list of the most dangerous intersections, highways, and roadways, including rural roads in the state.
U.S. Route 1 – Deadliest Road for Pedestrians
A report from a non-profit agency found that Connecticut roads are not pedestrian friendly. And one that was especially dangerous was U.S. Route 1. In total, there were 99 pedestrians killed in the state from 2011 to 2013. This was a slight decrease from the past study.
U.S. Route 1 has been on the top list for one of the deadliest roads for anyone to walk on. And because there have been no significant safety improvements, it is likely to continue being one of the most dangerous in the country until the state makes some changes.
One reason Route 1 is so deadly is that there are no sidewalks for pedestrians, and crosswalks are indicating that pedestrians have the right to be there. Also, while there are crosswalks, there are no crossing signals or lights; therefore, pedestrians have to hope drivers yield and let them pass.
In the winter, the large snow banks that pile on the side of the road only make matters deadlier. When pedestrians have to walk past the snow bank on the side of the road, drivers are more likely to strike them.
U.S. Route 6 – Another Deadly Roadway for Pedestrians
While Route 6 does not have as many deaths or accidents, it was ranked as Connecticut’s second most dangerous for pedestrians. The report found that these roadways have speed limits of 40 miles per hour and very little infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.
Route 6 – Deadly for Back Country Roads
When Route 6 moves on and into eastern Connecticut, it is known by locals as “Suicide 6” for the curves and numerous fatalities that occur there each year. It is one of the deadliest rural roads in the state, and the backroads of Connecticut are known for being some of the deadliest in the entire country.
In fact, one report found that roadway improvements to rural roads can prevent most of these fatalities. The fatality rate for these roadways rose in 2012 with 62 fatalities – averaging 1.95 deaths per million vehicle miles. Rural roads are any non-Interstate road that is outside of a populated area and are typically low-density, which mean they are also “low priority” on the infrastructure improvements list. While they might not be the roadways going through downtown centers, they still have their fair share of deadly accidents and catastrophic crashes that make them worth considering to be up next for improvement.
Route 17 – A Common Place for Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end accidents might not take someone’s life, but they can turn that life upside down. A person can be seriously injured in a rear-end collision and left with chronic pain or permanent disabilities.
Route 17 at Main Street Extension and Route 9 Interchange is one that is notorious for rear-end collisions. People are trying to merge too quickly between the two interstates, and unfortunately, the car headed down the on-ramp into traffic does not pay attention to what is going on in front of it.
Route 15 – Another Common Place for Rear-End Collisions
Route 15 when it meets with Route 69 at Whalley Avenue, is another common site for rear-end collisions. It also sees more injuries than the Route 17 interchange, according to the Department of Transportation numbers.
Route 8 Between Route 67 and Route 67 Interchange – Fixed Object Collisions
Instead of rear-ending collisions, this interchange sees more accidents with fixed objects – such as people attempting to change lanes and hitting the center divider, or when drivers are not paying attention while merging and veer into poles.
A collision, especially at Interstate speeds with a fixed object, can be devastating. Even with a single vehicle involved, these accidents often result in more severe injuries than others because the vehicle is traveling at an exceptionally high speed before coming to a violent and sudden impact.
Route 66 between Lakewood Road and Shopping Center – A Common Place for a Rear-End Collision
Route 66 goes throughout Connecticut. And when you head toward the shopping center area of Lakewood Road, be on the lookout for drivers making sudden stops in front of you. A common cause of accidents here is rear-end accidents from drivers speeding, following too close, or not paying attention to the cars in front of them.
Route 83 between I-84 Ramp 235 – Turning Accidents
If you have tried to take the on-ramp or off-ramp of I-84, you know how chaotic it can be. When people attempt to turn, accidents occur in this zone and the injuries can be severe.
Route 44 at Market Street East and West Junction – Turning Accidents
Another common place for turning accidents is the intersection in Hartford at Route 44’s Market Street. You see too many vehicles turning in front of one another or thinking that they can make the turn only to miss it unexpectedly.
Route 287 at Thornbush Road – Rear-End Accidents and Turning Collisions
Here you have two common types of crashes: turning accidents and rear-end collisions. This intersection is in Wethersfield, and one where you should take your right and left-hand turns with caution. Furthermore, when you approach the intersection, give yourself extra space between the cars.