Car crashes are part of the background of life in a big car-dependent city. The really awful ones maybe you'll catch on the news. Others you gawk at as you drive by, or else rage at from a line of traffic. Sometimes they come and go like phantoms, vanishing by the time you arrive, with only a half-hour of gridlock to prove their existence. From the driver's seat, it's impossible to divine any pattern. It all seems very stupid and random, and to a certain degree it is. And yet, car for car and mile for mile, some roads reliably prove to be more dangerous than others.
To figure out which highways in North Texas are the most dangerous, we obtained crash data (i.e. the number of accidents) from the Texas Department of Transportation for two dozen North Texas highway segments that a 2012 analysis by the North Central Texas Council of Governments identified as having the highest frequency of crashes. Using NCTCOG's 2014 estimate for the number of vehicle miles traveled on each segment, we determined the number of car crashes per 100 million VMT. So even though Central Expressway between LBJ Freeway and Interstate 30 averaged more than three wrecks a day, twice as many as any of the others in the top 10, more cars on Central were driving more miles in 2014 than on, say, Woodall Rodgers. There are other ways to define "danger." Counting traffic injuries or deaths rather than just crashes (which the state counts if they either cause injury or look like they caused $1,000-plus worth of damage) would be another. but those are comparatively rare and subject to bigger swings from year-to-year.
All of these roads are congested, but there's not a direct relationship between congestion and danger. If there's a takeaway here, it's that cars are dangerous. If there's a second takeaway, it's that someone should probably figure out how to make these particular highways safer. If there's a third takeaway, it's that the prevalence on this list of Tarrant County highways is is yet another piece of evidence that Dallas > Fort Worth.
10. LBJ Freeway from I-35E to Dallas North Tollway (Dallas County)
Average daily VMT: 1,002,630
Total crashes: 530
Crash rate: 143.19
9. I-35E from Garden Ridge Boulevard and State Highway 121 (Denton County)
Average daily VMT: 994,632
Total crashes: 530
Crash rate: 145.99
8. Central Expressway from LBJ Freeway to I-30 (Dallas County)
Average daily VMT: 2,227,731
Total crashes: 1,230
Crash rate: 151.27
7. East Loop 820 from I-30 to I-20 (Tarrant County)
Average daily VMT: 527,497
Total crashes: 295
Crash rate: 153.22
6. I-45 from I-30 to Lamar (Dallas County)
Average daily VMT: 198,030.45
Total crashes: 117
Crash rate: 161.87
5. LBJ Freeway from Dallas North Tollway to Central Expressway (Dallas County)
Average daily VMT: 782,686
Total crashes: 479
Crash rate: 167.67
4. I-35W from Loop 820 to I-30 (Tarrant County)
Average daily VMT: 706,900
Total crashes: 491
Crash rate: 190.30
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3. State Highway 360 from I-30 to I-20 (Tarrant County)
Average daily VMT: 758,327
Total crashes: 533
Crash rate: 192.57
2. I-30 from I-35W west to Loop 820 (Tarrant County)
Average daily VMT: 533,127
Total crashes: 411
Crash rate: 203.57
1. Woodall Rodgers Freeway from Stemmons to Central Expressway (Dallas County)
Average daily VMT: 173,422
Total crashes: 161
Crash rate: 254.35
This post originally combined scores for both the east and west segments of I-30 between I-35W and Loop 820 in Tarrant County and the eastern and western portions of Loop 820 between I-30 and I-20. The rankings have been revised to reflect the individual segments.