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I-35, I-40 Listed Among Most Dangerous Highways in Oklahoma

Oklahoma map

Two interstate highways that pass through Oklahoma have made it onto a new top 10 list of the nation's most deadly and dangerous interstates.

If you visit, live, or work in Oklahoma, you likely already have a good idea of which of the state's eight interstates have the most car accidents and came out on top in Stacker's analysis of 2020 fatal crash data.

OK interstate highway fatalities

Interstates that run through Oklahoma and made the top 10 list are I-35 and I-40. Crashes tended to concentrate around metros like Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

  • I-40 connects North Carolina and California. In 2020, across the entire roadway, there were 270 deaths due to traffic accidents, or about 10.6 deaths per 100 miles.
  • I-35 stretches from Texas to Minnesota and experienced 157 crash fatalities, or about 10 deaths per 100 miles.

But what makes these roadways so dangerous?

Road design and risk

There are many environmental and road design factors that contribute to crash risk. Whether you're driving on a highway or a city street, the chance of a serious car accident can be affected by things like:

Road conditions

Deteriorating, crumbled, cratered, or otherwise poor pavement conditions contribute to unusual circumstances that can pull a driver's focus off other vehicles and cause accidents.


In general, the more traffic in a given area, the more opportunities for accidents. However, a lack of congestion can also be dangerous. During the COVID-19 lockdown, we learned that some people used light traffic as an excuse to drive recklessly.


The faster a vehicle is moving, the more likely it is to seriously injure or kill someone in a crash. Oklahoma has some of the fastest highways in the U.S. There are highways - including portions of I-40 - where the speed limit is 80 mph instead of the usual 65 mph.

Road width

It would seem logical that a wide lane would reduce collisions by providing a larger buffer between vehicles. However, this is not typically the case. Studies show that narrower roads are usually safer than wide ones because there is less room for the driver to maneuver carelessly.


This applies to all types of light - sun, street lights, headlights, etc. Some highways and roadways at sun up and sun down cause temporary blind spots for drivers. Other times, inadequate lighting can cause a crash.

Traffic signals

If an intersection is significantly busy, a traffic signal could reduce crash risk.

Intersection complexity

Despite GPS mapping, and turn-by-turn directions, some intersections are just a nightmare to drive through. Even with great care, you could still become the victim of an inattentive driver who didn't obey the unusual traffic flow.


Roads that twist, turn, rise, and fall create temporary blind spots where accidents - especially pedestrian or bicycle accidents - can happen.

Emergency medical care access

If a car accident happens in a rural area and the only ambulance in the county is already on a run, a crash victim could be waiting a long time for help to arrive. The lack of access to medical care can turn a serious car accident into a fatal one.

Crash victims have legal rights

While I-35 and I-40 made Stacker's list, they aren't the only risky highways in Oklahoma. I-244 in Tulsa and I-44, in general, typically experience multiple fatal crashes per year. If we consider more highways than just interstates, US-62, US-64, US-69, and US-412 emerge as dangerous, too.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in an Oklahoma car accident, you may be entitled to compensation—and we can help you fight for it. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. With offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, we proudly serve clients throughout the state.

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