As you drive from southern Alabama to Tennessee along US Route 431, you’ll see numerous crosses on the side of the highway. These memorials from family members who have lost loved ones on this road are haunting reminders of how dangerous Alabama’s “Highway to Hell” really is.
Even though the Alabama Department of Transportation has taken steps to make it safer, “Highway to Hell” ranks high on lists of dangerous roads.
Let’s learn more.
What Is Alabama’s “Highway to Hell”?
US Route 431, also called SR 1, runs from Medianville, AL, at the Tennessee state line in the north to Dothan, AL, a few miles from the Florida border. The “Highway to Hell,” this 353-mile road, is notoriously dangerous. Although mainly four lanes, US Route 431 suddenly changes to two lanes in several sections.
Why Is Alabama’s “Highway to Hell” Dangerous?
Low visibility, dangerous curves, and high speeds contribute to the road’s nickname. In addition, because there are varying lanes as you travel from north to south, there’s plenty of merging.
You might have a two-lane road for ten miles, then a four-lane highway for ten miles, then back to a two-lane road. When the street already has severe curves and low visibility, this merging adds to the dangerous nature of US Route 431.
Alabama’s “Highway to Hell” also cuts through several cities. This reduces speeds abruptly but also mixes highway and local traffic. Someone hurrying to work might weave in and out of local traffic speedily to get back to the highway lanes.
Additionally, there are many people getting on and off this highway, making it crucial for motorists to watch the left and right sides of their vehicles for merging traffic.
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What Is the Curviest Road in Alabama?
Along Route 33 in Jackson County, Alabama, is a road drivers nicknamed “Snake Way.” The curviest and steepest road in all of Alabama, there are five or six hairpin turns and several hundred feet of elevation changes within this 2.5-mile stretch of road. Motorcyclists enjoy this daring journey from Jackson County Road 42 to Road 39 in the Scottsboro area.
What Highway Has the Most Deaths in America?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while traffic fatalities declined in 2020, the fatality rate increased. In 2020, the US had its highest fatality rate since 2007, reaching 1.37 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.
Also, according to this data, the most dangerous highway in the US is I-95, running along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. In 2019, the administration reported 284 fatalities, 14.88 per 100 miles. Winter conditions in the Northeast and heavy traffic areas in Jacksonville and Orlando contributed to many of these accidents.
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What Other Roads In America Make the Most Dangerous List?
I-95 isn’t the only dangerous road in America. In fact, most interstates rank high on the list due to their high speeds, long mileage, and the number of daily drivers. I-20 from Texas to South Carolina had 208 fatalities, 13.52 per 100 miles.
I-5 along the Pacific Coast ranked third in 2019 with 13.45 fatalities per 100 miles, followed by I-75 running from Michigan to Florida with 13.27 fatalities per 100 miles. Hillsborough County in Florida lay along I-75 and was the deadliest county in 2019 for vehicle-related crashes.
What State Has the Roughest Roads?
According to Consumer Affairs, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Louisiana have the worst roads in America. The methodology of this study involved the roughness of the pavement, highway maintenance, and safety budgets for each state. Hawaii’s biggest problem is poor maintenance leading to rough roads.
“More than a quarter of Hawaii’s urban roads come in at more than 170 inches per mile on the International Roughness Index (IRI), a measure of how much a vehicle vibrates based on the roughness of the road and how the wheel hits it. (Roads with an IRI at or above 170 inches per mile are considered in poor condition).”
Rhode Island’s most significant problem is the historical lack of funding for road maintenance. “The state’s Department of Transportation has calculated that Rhode Island is missing $378 million in funding for reconstruction and maintenance.” This leads to poor road conditions and contributes to accidents.
Is Alabama’s “Highway to Hell” Worth Driving?
If you have no other choice but to drive US Route 431, then you must tackle Alabama’s “Highway to Hell.” There aren’t many other options in eastern Alabama. However, try to drive during the day. Always wear a seat belt and go at a safe speed. Be alert and pay attention to other drivers.
No matter what part of the country you travel to or where you live, there are dangerous highways. Always drive sober and plan your route. If the weather conditions are poor, consider leaving a day early or later or traveling another way if possible. These tips will help you and other drivers stay safe while traveling America’s dangerous highways.
Have you ever driven along Alabama’s “Highway to Hell?” What was your experience?
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