A Closer Look at Seattle’s Most Accident-Prone Roads and Intersections

As the 18th most populous city in the United States, Seattle is the biggest metropolis in the Pacific Northwest. It is also dubbed the “Emerald City” for its lush landscapes and evergreen trees.

Although the city’s streets are among the safest in the country, it’s undeniable that Seattle sees a higher number of car accidents each year. Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal an average of 10,000 traffic accidents every year, with about 180 serious injuries and 28 fatalities.

In this article, we’ll explore the city’s deadliest roads and a few tips to avoid accidents from happening.

5 of Seattle’s Most Dangerous Roads for Motorists and Pedestrians

According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, there were over 6,100 traffic accidents in the city in 2021. Of this number, 30 were fatal, and 191 incidents caused serious injuries. Compared to 2019 figures, the deadly and severe injury cases went up by 11%.

Upon further study, most accidents occurred in intersections, the downtown area, and highways.

Based on data from different sources, here are five of the most dangerous roads in Seattle for motorists and pedestrians:

Rainier Avenue

Rainier Avenue is an eight-mile stretch of road in the city. Between January 2011 and January 2014, it saw 1,243 vehicle collisions. These incidents caused over 630 injuries and two deaths. Overspeeding was the primary cause of road accidents, with motorists speeding at 40 mph on a road with a 30 mph speed limit.

In 2015, city authorities reduced the postal speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. This measure helped decrease the number of speeders, bringing down the number of traffic crashes on Rainier Avenue.

I-5 Highway

I-5 Highway ranked as Washington State’s deadliest highway in 2015, according to a Geotab study. It is the busiest highway in the state and passes through Seattle. Between 2007 and 2017, there were 245 car accident fatalities along the I-5 Highway.

I-90 Highway

I-90 is another highway that passes through downtown Seattle. There were 65 fatalities from road accidents along I-90 in 2021 alone. The highway’s most dangerous sections include the Spokane Valley, the Snoqualmie Pass, and downtown Seattle.Image3Possible reasons for the high number of accidents on this highway include heavy traffic congestion, complex networks, and road obstacles.

East John Street and East Madison Street

The intersection of East John Street and East Madison Street holds Seattle’s highest number of car accidents, according to a report from data provider INRIX. With a crash rate of 0.45% per 100,000 vehicles, the intersection saw the most collisions out of all the intersections in Seattle.

Another report from KING 5 News says that this intersection has seen an average of 10 to 15 car accidents per year since 2018. East John Street and 23rd Avenue East has become known as Seattle’s “Crash Corner.”

Aurora Avenue

According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, Aurora Avenue is Seattle’s deadliest road. It accounted for 17% of the city’s traffic fatalities, 5% of which were pedestrians. The road is 7.6 miles long and a six-lane high-speed roadway. It is known for lacking pedestrian infrastructure.

Common Causes of Car Accidents and Tips to Practice Safe Driving in Seattle

Why is there a high occurrence of traffic crashes in Seattle in the first place? The Seattle Department of Transportation reveals the most common causes of car accidents in the city:

  • Motorists not giving right of way to other drivers
  • Improper turns
  • Speeding
  • Distracted drivers within and outside their vehicles
  • Disregarding traffic signs
  • Following too closely
  • Falling asleep on the wheel
  • Drivers not yielding to pedestrians
  • Traffic congestion

Seeing the high likelihood of car accidents on Seattle’s roads, what can you do to prevent this from happening? Here are a few tips for safe driving in the city:

  • Be Mindful of Peak Hours

Peak hours mean slow-moving traffic, packed lanes, and hot tempers. Avoid peak hours or use alternative routes to prevent accidents on busy roads and highways.

  • Know About Local Traffic Laws

If you are new in Seattle, you should brush up on local traffic laws. Know that texting or holding your phone while on the road is forbidden. Another thing to keep in mind is that all intersections are crosswalks or legal crossings.Image2And in terms of speed limits, Seattle implements 20 mph for residential streets and 25 mph for most arterials.

  • Understand Seattle’s Steep Hills

Many streets in the city are on steep hills. Be mindful of your distance from vehicles. Leave some rollback space between you and the car in front of you.

  • Learn About Seattle’s Weather

Seattle’s weather can be unpredictable. Driving on highways means knowing when to slow down when it’s raining. You should also increase your following distance in unfavorable weather.

  • Practice Defensive Driving

You should practice defensive driving at all times. Be vigilant, maintain control of your vehicle, and follow traffic rules. You should be prepared at all times to react to the actions of other drivers on the road.

It’s important to note that drivers in Seattle continue to rank near the bottom of driver safety compared to other metropolitan areas in the U.S. Allstate Insurance reports Seattle’s driver safety ranks at No. 155 from 200 cities. This data shows motorists in the city and the greater Seattle area face frequent challenges when keeping its roads safe for drivers and pedestrians.

Being mindful of safe driving practices and cooperating with the city’s road safety measures will go a long way in making Seattle’s roads safer for motorists and pedestrians.

From Statistics to Solutions: Learning to Prevent Car Accidents in Seattle

Seattle is one of the safest cities in the U.S., but it still struggles with a high number of car accidents. The I-5, I-90, East John Street, East Madison Street, Rainier Avenue, and Aurora Avenue are some of the city’s most dangerous roads for drivers and pedestrians. Each has its challenges that contribute to the high number of road accidents and fatalities in the city.

But by knowing the common causes of car road mishaps, motorists and pedestrians are better equipped to prevent them, lowering the risk of accidents on Seattle’s roads.