Driving Safe on Alabama’s “Highway to Hell”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2016.

Ask Alabamians to name the most treacherous road in the state, and you’ll likely get a variety of responses. However, one that’s sure to be mentioned, and the only one to be named one of the “world’s most dangerous roads” by DrivingExperiences.com, is U.S. Highway 431.

U.S. 431, nicknamed the “highway to hell,” runs north to south for 353 miles along the state’s eastern edge. According to data released by the World Health Organization for 2013, it ranked 4th in the nation for the number of fatal accidents that year.


The Dangers of U.S. 431

What makes U.S. 431 so deadly? The DrivingExperiences.com survey cited three factors: the prevalence of speeding on the road, its many unpredictable changes from two to four lanes, and general poor visibility. These characteristics combined lead drivers to make poor decisions behind the wheel, increasing overall accidents and fatalities.

However, U.S. 431 is quite a long stretch of road, and certain parts are far more dangerous than others. One of the stretches that was once most concerning is the section of roughly 50 miles running from Phoenix City to Eufaula. In the past, this portion of the highway narrowed dangerously to two lanes, leading to crashes. Now, since the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) completed construction that expanded this stretch to four lanes, it’s much safer. However, other portions of U.S. 431 still remain quite dangerous.

Accident Statistics

The most dangerous sections of U.S. 431 tend to be those with only two lanes. This isn’t surprising; according to 2012 data on crashes in the state released by ALDOT, nearly half of all crashes (46.48%) and a whopping 65.4% of fatalities occurred on two lane roads. ALDOT has committed to widening more of U.S. 431, which is a step in the right direction. However, it’s also important that drivers understand the best ways to stay safe when driving on U.S. 431 and similar roads.


Safe Driving Tips

Although not every crash is the driver’s fault, there are many steps you can take to help prevent the types of accidents that happen most frequently on U.S. 431. For example, the high rate at which speeding occurs on U.S. 431 is part of what makes it so dangerous. The 2012 ALDOT data ranked speeding as the number one driver-contributing circumstance in all crashes in the state. Speeding factored in over 8,000 crashes and over 500 fatalities in 2012 in Alabama. By slowing down, drivers can reduce the risk of a crash and help save lives.

Not speeding is just one way Alabama drivers can stay safe on the “highway to hell.” Many other tips are helpful, and they apply not only to travel on U.S. 431, but on any road or highway. Here are some other common sense tips for safe driving:

  • Don’t text and drive. If you must make a call, use Bluetooth or hands-free calling.
  • Don’t drive drowsy. Many accidents occur when a driver falls asleep at the wheel. If you’re feeling tired, pull over and rest.
  • Wear your seat belt. The science is clear: seat belts save lives. There’s no valid excuse for not wearing one, and you’ll be safer in the event that you are involved in a crash.
  • Stay alert in bad weather. In fog or icy conditions, stay extra alert. Visibility on U.S. 431 is already subpar – and bad weather makes it worse.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Ever.

Improvements to U.S. 431

ALDOT has been working since 2006 to make some of the most notorious stretches of U.S. 431 safer, namely by widening two lane sections to four lanes and increasing patrols by State Troopers in order to better police for speeding. Still, it’s best to exercise caution when traveling on U.S. 431.

If you’re injured in a serious accident and are seeking a free consultation to explore your options, contact the accident attorneys of The Mitchell Law Firm, LLC today.