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Deadliest Roads in Iowa

Iowa, known for its picturesque farmlands and charming communities, is home to some of the most serene drives in the Midwest. However, not all roads in the Hawkeye State offer a peaceful journey. In fact, 2023 was one of the deadliest years on Iowa roads in the last decade.
Because of the increase in traffic fatalities, the Iowa Department of Transportation has begun installing “safety corridors” on some of the states deadliest highways. These corridors feature larger lines on the road, new signage, and increased police presence by the Iowa State Patrol.
We will explore the top 5 deadliest roads in Iowa, shedding light on the factors that make each one particularly hazardous. 

Interstate 80

Scenic country road with wind turbines.
Stretching across the entire state with stops in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and Davenport, I-80 serves as a vital artery for transportation and commerce. While its importance is unquestionable, I-80 has earned a reputation for its high accident rates. The highway consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous roads in the state of Iowa—an average of 19 deaths happen each year on this one road alone.
Because Iowa is relatively flat and the highway is very straight, boredom and fatigue can quickly become an issue. Additionally, adverse weather conditions like heavy snowfall and icy roads amplify the danger.
Additionally, a study using data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that I-80 in Iowa has one of the worst rates for drunk driving fatalities in the country.
Iowa isn’t the only state where I-80 has high fatal crash rates. In fact, the interstate is often cited as one of deadliest highways in America, with more than 7 fatalities per 100 miles in 2019.

Highway 20

Despite its scenic views, Highway 20 has earned a notorious distinction as one of Iowa‘s deadliest roadways. The two-lane road runs across the state from Sioux City to Dubuque before crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois, offering a scenic but potentially risky drive. 
The highway meets with major interstates in several areas, such as its intersection with Interstate 380 in Waterloo. Higher traffic levels, along with changes in speed and direction at these intersections can increase the risk of accidents.
While Hwy 20 is mostly straight, a few twists, turns, and blind spots make the road prone to accidents, especially during winter storms.

Highway 30 

Highway 30 is another east-west highway with numerous access points and frequent crossroads. Drivers may face challenges in maintaining consistent speeds, increasing the likelihood of accidents. 
This road also has relatively narrow lanes in some spots, such as the stretch from DeWitt to Clinton in eastern Iowa. This can make it more difficult for drivers of semi-trucks and other large vehicles to safely navigate around other vehicles.

Highway 61

Starting in Dubuque and heading south through Davenport before continuing on to Keokuk, Highway 61 stays fairly close to the path of the Mississippi River. There are beautiful and historic stretches of road along this highway, but its narrow, winding nature can pose risks to motorists.
Steep downhill grades, such as that leading into Muscatine, can create dangerous conditions for large trucks and vehicles around them. The proximity to the river can result in rapid changes in weather, including dense fog, which reduces visibility and increases the likelihood of accidents. 

Highway 163

Connecting Oskaloosa to Pella, Highway 163 cuts through rural Iowa, showcasing the state’s agricultural beauty. However, its quiet appearance belies the dangers it harbors. 
The combination of narrow lanes, minimal shoulders, and high-speed traffic creates a recipe for disaster. Agricultural equipment sharing the road further compounds the risk, leading to a higher incidence of accidents. Drivers should stay alert for slower moving vehicles and always adhere to the speed limit.

What to Do if You’re Involved in an Accident in Iowa

Accidents happen, whether you’re in the middle of rural America or navigating the most dangerous intersections in the country. If you’re involved in an accident in Iowa, regardless of who was at fault, always be sure to stay at the scene of the accident, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, and render reasonable aid if needed (such as calling emergency services if someone is injured).
Even if no one is injured, contact law enforcement and file a police report. Many auto insurance companies require police reports before they will approve any claims. Seek medical attention as soon as you can, even if you do not believe you were hurt. You may have hidden injuries that should be treated by a medical professional.
If another person’s negligence caused your accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine if you have a case.
The Advocates injury law firm has been representing accident victims since 1993 and we are ready to help you too. Our skilled, compassionate auto accident lawyers will build your case, negotiate with insurance adjusters, and represent you in court if necessary. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your damages.
Contact The Iowa Advocates for a free consultation. After your car accident, you deserve to know that you are in good hands. You deserve an Advocate.