Ector County highway has been ranked the most dangerous in America

The Ector County highway, specifically US 285, has gained a notorious reputation for being one of the most dangerous roads in America. This highway stretches across the Texas Permian Basin and has been significantly impacted by the recent oil boom in the area. The increase in traffic, combined with the road’s inadequate condition, has led to a dramatic rise in accidents and fatalities.

A report that analyzed fatality rates on U.S. highways to identify the most dangerous ones used data from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This ranking took into account four years of fatality rates over specific highway stretches, calculating vehicle-related deaths per mile​​.

US 285, also known as “Death Highway,” exemplifies the dangers present on some American highways. The road is extremely busy, often filled with fatigued, overworked, and inexperienced truckers trying to meet deadlines. The increased traffic, much of it due to oil company activities, has not been matched by adequate road safety measures, leading to a significant number of accidents and fatalities.

For instance, in Loving County, the number of crashes rose from 18 in 2016 to 103 in 2018. In Ector County specifically, over 5,000 wrecks were reported in 2018 alone, which was about twice the number from 2016. Despite the Permian Basin hosting only 1.6% of Texas’s population, it accounted for 12% of the state’s traffic fatalities​​.

The issue of dangerous highways is a nationwide concern. The Teletrac Navman report, which underpinned the ranking, pulls data from FARS to analyze the main types of collisions and the specific road stretches where most lives are lost. This comprehensive approach helps in understanding the severity and causes of accidents on these deadly roads​​.

Among the 25 deadliest roads in the U.S., the rankings include various highways known for their high death rates. For example, Interstate 4 in Florida, stretching from Tampa to Daytona Beach, was identified as the deadliest, with more than one death per mile from 2016 to 2019​​​​.

The situation on US 285 in Ector County is a grim reminder of the critical need for infrastructure improvements and enhanced safety measures on highways, especially in regions experiencing sudden increases in traffic due to economic activities like the oil boom in the Permian Basin. The data highlights the importance of addressing these challenges proactively to prevent further loss of life.