California's "Most Dangerous Mile"
August 25, 1999
The Los Angeles Times has analyzed California Highway Patrol data and found the most dangerous one-mile section of interstate for truck accidents: Interstate 5, where northbound trucks leaving the Long Beach freeway must enter northbound I-5 in the fast lane and merge into heavy traffic.
In a five-year period, 302 truck-related accidents occurred on that stretch, the LA Times reported as part of a series on truck safety. The number of accidents on this stretch has been rising each year, from 40 in 1994 to 72 in 1998, according to the Times. In a typical hour, this single mile of freeway has 1,200 trucks jockeying for lane position with 12,000 passenger vehicles.
Truck traffic from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and other trucks from rail yards nearby, are using a connector road to merge from I-710 onto northbound I-5 that has been obsolete since the 1960s.
While the newspaper's figures say that truckers are at fault in about half of all California large-truck crashes, accidents at this dangerous connector are blamed more than nine times out of 10 on truck drivers, who are most often cited for unsafe lane changes.
A complete reconfiguration of the intersection is planned as part of the hoped-for extension of I-5 widening, now under way through Orange County.
The paper found the second most dangerous mile is on Interstate 710, approaching the exit to I-5. There were 293 truck accidents during the same five-year period.