If you yearn for the small-town life, North Dakota is your dream state. In Rough Rider country 85% of the cities have less than 1,000 residents. Nationally, that number is less than half. The college town of Fargo, memorably immortalized by the Coen brothers, is the only city in the state with a 6-figure population at just over 100,000. But if you think the lack of congestion makes driving there any safer, you better think again. Understanding the most dangerous roads in North Dakota may help you avoid a serious car accident in the future.
Drivers in North Dakota suffer over 20 fatalities per year for every 100,000 residents. That rate is twice the national average and among the highest anywhere in the United States. Several factors culminate to bring these tragic statistics to bear. Alcohol plays a significant role in many traffic fatalities. In fact, a 2017 accident report showed that half of all incidents involved alcohol impairment, which is considerably higher than the 31% national average. Surprisingly, one out of every six arrests of adults were for a DUI and each arrest averaged a blood alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit.
North Dakota’s reputation for being flat is well-deserved. The highest point is White Butte and that only sits 571 feet above the surrounding landscape. The downside to wide open plains and a lack of traffic is that drivers are easily tempted to speed or become distracted. Speeding and distracted driving were factors in 40% of all fatal accidents. Small town living might be a dream but driving there is anything but. Here is The Advocates list of 5 of the most dangerous roads in North Dakota.
#5 Wintery Roads Going Anywhere
If you’re traveling in North Dakota between October and April be ready for severe winter conditions. The winters here are long and brutal. With temperatures as low as 60 below, high winds, icy roads and snow fall force cautious drivers to prepare for the worst. One tragic accident west of Fargo caused by wintry conditions involved over 100 cars! Here is a short checklist released by the North Dakota Department of Transportation for driving during the cold months:
- Always carry a cellphone and make sure it is fully charged
- Let someone know your route and expected time of arrival
- Make sure your car has a full tank and chains if needed
- Always carry extra winter clothes and blankets
- Pack emergency food, water and first aid kit
- If you get stuck or slide off-road in blizzard stay put and do not walk for help
#4 Interstate 29
Running north to south near the eastern edge of the state is the 217 miles of Interstate 29. Connecting Fargo to Grand Forks before going on to Canada, this route is the main north-south highway in eastern North Dakota. With a speed limit of 75 mph running along both cities, there are zero middle barriers to stop traffic from crossing between northbound and southbound lanes. Like many of the highways in the area, Interstate 29 sees frequent closures during winter so be sure to check current road conditions and avoid this route when the roads get slick.
- High speed limit
- No middle barriers
- Frequent road closures
- Slippery roads in winter
#3 Interstate 94
Crossing from west to east through the lower third of state is the 352 miles of Interstate 94. This highway passes through several major cities before heading to Fargo which sits right on the border of Minnesota. For most of the area I-94 remains the main gateway to the nearest major city of Minneapolis about 4 hours past the border. With 444 traffic accidents in a single year, it ranks as the 2nd most dangerous stretch of highway in the state.
#2 U.S. Highway 85
Skirting along the western edge of North Dakota is the 255 miles of U.S. Highway 85. This primary artery for western North Dakota is the main route for commercial trucks servicing the booming oil industry. In an all too familiar storyline in the Midwest, the black-gold rush underway brings jobs, money and dangerous road conditions for drivers. In fact, U.S. 85 is the most dangerous highway in the state.
- Many accident-prone areas
- Frequent traffic jams
- High number of 18-wheelers
- Icy roadways
This stretch of highway had the most car accidents and fatal injuries in North Dakota, according to a report from the state Department of Transportation. Portions of U.S. 85 also have some of the highest traffic volumes in the state due to large amounts of equipment for oil and gas production being transported. In fact, North Dakota is the most hazardous state for truck-drivers with 8.8% of traffic fatalities being truckers. Workplace fatalities occur here at the highest rate in the nation and a large majority of these are “transportation incidents.” Be ready for commercial vehicle congestion in this area and use caution around the big rigs.
#1 Rural Roads
Congestion is a significant factor in traffic accidents in most areas. However, for fatal traffic accidents in North Dakota almost the opposite is true. Over 90% of all traffic fatalities occur on rural roads, making them #1 in our most dangerous roads in North Dakota. Speed limits are often ignored, safety belts left unbuckled and impaired or distracted drivers are all too common occurrences here.
- Ignored speed limits
- Lack of seat belt usage
- Impaired drivers
- Distracted drivers
Burleigh and McKenzie counties are especially dangerous, so be careful when driving through there. Don’t let the tranquil appearance of the country roads lull you into a false sense of security as danger could be lurking around the next bend in the road.
The Montana Advocates
No matter how carefully one drives accidents can happen at any time. Should you or a family member become injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, it’s vital to hire a car accident attorney right away to protect your rights. Having a professional who specializes in car accidents makes a monumental difference in building a strong case for your claim and negotiating the settlement you deserve.
The car accident lawyers with The Advocates will help ease the worry of having to deal with insurance companies, legal paperwork or medical bills leaving you to concentrate on more important matters like your health. We here at the Advocates will be standing by you at every turn giving you peace of mind knowing you have quality representation. Call The Advocates today at 406-534-7179 or speak with an attorney using our Live Chat here. Everyone deserves an Advocate!