There a lots of reasons why some highways claim an unusual number of lives per mile traveled in America. Sometimes the reason is poor planning because of rapid population growth. On the other hand, some highways are built in places where they simply don’t belong such as along the walls of steep canyons. The problem may also be severe weather conditions, or an area’s extreme remoteness from any towns or facilities.
Colorado’s Highway 550
Highway 550, also called the million dollar highway, has a 25 mile section at 11,000 feet above sea level with dramatic mountain scenery. Unfortunately, appreciating its beauty may distract you and cause your commercial or owner operator truck to go off the road and plummet hundreds of feet down a canyon wall. Despite the drop offs, there are no shoulders or guard rails. The lack of guard rails allows for removal of rockfall debris and snow. Stay focused and keep an eye open for rockfall.
Alaska’s Dalton Highway
The Dalton highway is 414 miles long. It starts at Fairbanks and ends near the Arctic Ocean at Deadhorse. It meanders through the Brooks Range Mountains which is a remote area with few places to get food, water, or fuel. Given that it’s near the top of the globe, extreme cold can be expected in the winter, sometimes as low as minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The commercial or owner operator truck driver needs great driving skill and lots of self-reliance. If your rig breaks down, you had best have your own spare parts and tools to handle the problem yourself. Bring spare food, water, and fuel.
Montana’s Highway 2
Highway 2 spans vast remote stretches of open flat ground. Flat may seem like ideal driving but not in the winter with its blizzards, black ice, and high winds. If you hurt yourself in an accident, expect an 80 minute wait before an ambulance arrives. This is just an average figure because help can be hours away in some sections. Drive defensively because some of the locals drive over 100 mph to shorten the driving time between towns.
Unlike the remote highways mentioned previously, I-285 circles Atlanta, a highly urbanized area. It has the usual assortment of hazards common to metropolitan areas. The difference here however, is that it has lots more of it. Its interchange with I-85, sometimes called Spaghetti Junction, is 18 lanes wide with multilevel ramps crisscrossing in several directions. When you add lots of rush hour traffic to this structural confusion, you get the perfect recipe for accidents. The commercial or owner operator truck driver should either avoid the worst traffic hours or give the highway a wide berth.