Study: I-95 in Fort Lauderdale Is the Deadliest Mile in America

A new study found that this is the deadliest one-mile stretch of highway in the country.
A new study found that this is the deadliest one-mile stretch of highway in the country. via 1 Point21 Interactive, Elk & Elk
Last May, a woman driving a Mercedes-Benz SUV plunged nearly 20 feet off the southbound entrance ramp onto I-95 from State Road 84 in Fort Lauderdale. She'd hit a concrete guardrail that had just been repaired following an eerily similar accident that sent two men in a Cadillac SUV to the hospital roughly 24 hours prior.

While those three victims survived, 24 people died in 23 car crashes between 2000 and 2019 along that same stretch of I-95 between I-595 and State Road 84, which is now considered the "deadliest mile in America," according to a new study by 1Point21 Interactive digital agency and the Elk & Elk personal injury law firm.

The study, which was published on Sunday, looked at 20 years of fatal crash data — more than 91,000 accidents in total — across the United States and found that this stretch of I-95 saw nearly 50 times the number of fatal car accidents than the average highway mile.

"I-595 is dangerous. State Road 84 is dangerous. A lot of tourists are doing 60 miles per hour in rental vehicles coming in and out of the [Fort Lauderdale International] airport — it's a nightmare," Mike Arias, a local public roadway safety advocate, tells New Times. "There are deficiencies that are currently claiming lives, day in and day out."

Last March, a 48-year-old man died after flipping over the guardrail in a pickup truck on the I-95 exit ramp onto State Road 84. Fours years before that, 17-year-old Letroy Martin, Jr., died after crashing into the concrete guardrail on the I-95 exit ramp onto State Road 84. He was a senior at Fort Lauderdale High School. His father told Local10 that he was a "good kid, full of joy, loved to have fun, [and] played sports."

 Arias, a retired traffic officer for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue with 40 years of experience, points to a number of issues along this stretch of road: high speeds, complicated entrance and exit ramps, poor visibility of the roadway and overheard signs, inadequate spacing and durability of express-lane poles, and a higher percentage of drivers unfamiliar with the area coming to and from the Fort Lauderdale airport.

"The exit ramps and on-ramps are very dark and not well lit. There are not enough reflectors. It's also a very sharp type of curb to negotiate. So if you're not familiar with the area and you're coming in a little faster than you should — forget it, you're not going to make it and blow into the wall," Arias says. "Most of these incidents do not occur during rush hour when it's bumper-to-bumper [traffic] but when it's dark and drivers increase their speed."

The study also examined fatal car crashes along ten-mile stretches of highways across the U.S between 2000 and 2019. The deadliest ten-mile stretch is along I-45 in Houston. Second place goes to I-35 in Dallas. And third-deadliest is I-95 between exits 18 and 27 in southern Broward County, a stretch that includes the deadliest mile. During the 20-year window, there were 146 deaths there.

Two other South Florida roadways are featured in the study's top-ten ranking: I-95 between exits 7 and 16 in Miami-Dade is considered the seventh deadliest ten-mile stretch in the nation, while the Palmetto Expressway between NW 37th Avenue and NW 74th Street ranks tenth. There were 123 and 67 fatalities reported at each area, respectively. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson