Accident Study:

Michigan's Deadliest Roads Safer Than Its Drunk Drivers

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MoneyGeek analyzed 2,751 fatal crashes from 2017 to 2019 to find the most deadly roads in Michigan and other factors associated with fatal crashes. Drunk driving related accidents are the most common factor in fatal accidents in Michigan despite having some of the worst road conditions in the country and the highest rates of winter-related deaths.

  • Nearly a third (30%) of fatal accidents in Michigan are drunk driving related. This is the most common factor in fatal accidents.
  • Over 1,000 roads in the state had fatal accidents. The most deadly, I-94, was responsible for 2% of them.
  • 7 of the 10 deadliest 5-mile stretches in Michigan occur in the Detroit Metro Area. Flint, Grand Rapids, and Luddington roads make the list as well.
  • Just 5% of fatal accidents occur during wintry conditions, despite Michigan being the most dangerous state for winter driving. Michigan's fatal accidents occur most frequently during the summer months.

The Top 10 Most Deadly Road Stretches in Michigan

These 10 roadways are all less than five miles long. But they have the highest number of fatalities from 2017 to 2019. Some of these thoroughfares or highways are known for having multiple intersections and/or high traffic density. Drivers also tend to travel through them at higher speeds. All of this likely contributes to their hazardousness.

Detroit: Gratiot Avenue Between E Grand Blvd to 7 Mile

Detroit: Gratiot Avenue Between E Grand Blvd to 7 Mile

Gratiot Avenue in Detroit between East Grand Boulevard and 7 Mile is the most deadly five-mile stretch in the state. Even though the average traveling time is only eight minutes, there have been 11 fatal crashes on this busy highway road between 2017 and 2019. Most of the fatal crashes occurred at the intersections of this active stretch, which is lined with shops, restaurants and businesses.

Flint: Dort Highway (M-54) Between E Pierson Road and E Morris Road

Flint: Dort Highway (M-54) Between E Pierson Road and E Morris Road

The Dort Highway, which runs from Flint north into Mt. Morris, is the second deadliest stretch of road in Michigan, with 10 fatal crashes from 2017 to 2019. The intersection with East Stanley Road along this four-mile-plus stretch is one of the most dangerous in the state, with four fatal crashes occurring there.

Grand Rapids: 28th St (M-11) Between Eastern Ave SE & Byron Center Ave

Grand Rapids: 28th Street (M-11) Between Eastern Avenue SE and Byron Center Ave

This bustling stretch of road is just under four miles and ranks number three for the state’s most deadly roads. Out of the 74 fatal crashes Grand Rapids had from 2017 to 2019, nine of those occurred along this highly trafficked route with dozens of intersections.

Detroit: I-75 Between I-96 and I-94 Interchange

Detroit: I-75 Between I-96 and I-94 Interchange

This stretch of road winds its way up from Southwest Detroit, passing by the Poletown East neighborhood, and ranks number four on our list, with eight fatal crashes. Most of the fatal crashes that occurred on this route from 2017 to 2019 happened on the stretch that nears or passes I-94. That may not be surprising as I-94 is the most dangerous road in Wayne County, home to Detroit, which averages 160 fatal crashes annually.

Grand Rapids: US-131 Between Wealthy St SE and 44th St SW in Wyoming

Grand Rapids: US-131 Between Wealthy Street SE and 44th Street SW in Wyoming

Heading north from Kellogsville, this 10-mile stretch of road experienced a cluster of fatal crashes just south of the Belknap Lookout community from 2017 to 2019. Grand Rapids averages 25 fatal crashes per year, and eight of those occurred along this stretch, making US-131 one of the most dangerous roads in Kent County.

Wayne County: Telegraph Road Grand River to Joy Road

Wayne County: Telegraph Road Between Grand River Avenue and Joy Road

Eight fatal crashes happened on this five-mile stretch of road spanning Dearborn Heights, Redford Charter Twp, and Detroit. Many of these fatal crashes have occurred at intersections.

Detroit: 7 Mile between Telegraph Road and John C Lodge Freeway

Detroit: 7 Mile between Telegraph Road and John C Lodge Freeway

At just around four miles, 7 Mile runs east between Telegraph Road and John C Lodge Freeway. The short but busy route had eight of the 320 fatal crashes that happened in the city from 2017 to 2019.

Ludington: US-10 between N Stiles Road and N Washington Ave

Ludington: US-10 between N Stiles Road and N Washington Ave

The western terminus of US 10 runs through Ludington. This 4.5-mile stretch is situated in Mason County, which had 22 fatal crashes from 2017 to 2019. Eight of those happened on this active street.

DTW: I-94 Between Viking Road and Telegraph Road

DTW: I-94 Between Viking Road and Telegraph Road

This short stretch of I-94 runs just under four miles and is near Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. It makes our top ten list because of eight fatal crashes occurring from 2017 to 2019. I-94 appears on our top ten list for a second time as it's ranked as the most dangerous road in Wayne County with 20 fatal crashes overall.

Detroit: East Davison Street Between Conant Street and I-96

Detroit: East Davison Street Between Conant Street and I-96

This bustling stretch of road is just under five miles and has experienced eight fatal crashes, earning its 10th spot on our list. Trouble spots like this near I-96 are known for aggressive driving and speeding, prompting the Michigan State Police to introduce "Freeway of Love" to help curb the crashes. This initiative had officers increasing their presence on I-96 to stop drivers who were speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or exhibiting other aggressive driving behaviors.

30% of Fatal Accidents in Michigan Are Drunk Driving-Related

Unfortunately, impaired driving happens every day, and alcohol is a major factor in traffic crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported more than 10,000 drunk driving-related deaths in the United States in 2019.

Impaired driving from alcohol is determined by a driver’s blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, which refers to the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. As it increases, it reduces brain function and impairs thinking, reasoning and coordination. A BAC of .08 is illegal in most states, but even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability.

Michigan, in particular, seems to have a higher number of drivers with elevated BAC levels. In 2018, 2.1% of adult drivers in Michigan reported that they had driven after drinking too much in the past 30 days. In contrast, an average of 1.7% of drivers nationwide reported the same.

Further, from 2017 to 2019, about 30% of fatal crashes in Michigan were because of drunk driving — 2% higher than the national average, which, according to the Information Institute, was 28%. However, some counties in the state saw even higher percentages of drunk driving-related crashes. These include Shiawassee, Mason and Cass counties, which each had 43%.

Only 5% of Fatal Accidents Are Related to Winter Conditions

Michigan is the most dangerous state for winter driving, with an average of 54 deaths on the roads every winter. Despite that, sleet, snow, blowing snow or freezing drizzle conditions only make up 5% of all fatal accidents. The Michigan counties with the highest number of fatalities related to winter conditions include Genesee County, which had 11 fatal crashes, and Wayne County, which had eight fatal crashes from 2017 to 2019. Before the sleet, ice and snow hit your area, learn safety measures that can help you avoid winter driving dangers in Michigan.

Perhaps counterintuitively, Michigan drivers should be particularly cautious when driving in the spring through early fall months. May through September have the highest number of fatal accidents, with the rate peaking in August with 294 fatal accidents and falling slightly in September and October as summer gives way to fall. This may seem surprising at first, but given that the summer months include popular drinking holidays — Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day — and drunk driving accounts for a third of all fatal accidents, this statistic does align with other trends.

Average Fatal Accidents by Month, 2017–2019
Month
Fatal Accidents
%
Drunk Driving Related
% Drunk Driving
Winter Conditions

January

191

6.9%

47

24.6%

35

February

159

5.8%

47

29.6%

25

March

193

7.0%

72

37.3%

15

April

200

7.3%

74

37.0%

12

May

236

8.6%

82

34.7%

0

June

249

9.1%

67

26.9%

0

July

269

9.8%

77

28.6%

0

August

294

10.7%

79

26.9%

0

September

281

10.2%

88

31.3%

0

October

256

9.3%

67

26.2%

3

November

218

7.9%

56

25.7%

25

December

205

7.5%

64

31.2%

36

Beyond Fatal Crashes: Other Factors for High Insurance Rates

The cities in Michigan that have the highest rate of fatal accidents are Detroit, which averages 99 per year; Grand Rapids, which averages 23 per year; and Flint, which averages 22 per year. Of the three, Detroit has the highest car insurance rates, with an average annual car insurance cost of $5,471. That's 284.1% more than the national average and the same as that of the statewide average.

But insurance rates aren't only affected by the number of fatal accidents that occur in the area. Other types of accidents and claims, such as theft, play a large part as well, especially if such claims occur frequently — and certain areas of Michigan have been more affected than others. For example, in 2019, the rate of vehicle theft in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn area was 276.4 per 100,000 people, compared to 219.9 per 100,000 people nationwide.

So residents of areas like Detroit and Grand Rapids will pay elevated rates, even if their driving record is pristine. And being involved in an accident will serve only to increase the cost of insurance more. Even so, comparing car insurance rates will ensure you find the best price possible for your policy.

Fatal Accidents by County and Most Dangerous Road in Each County

The top five counties with the highest vehicle-related deaths each had more than 100 fatal crashes in a three-year period. From 2017 to 2019, Wayne County had 444 fatal crashes, resulting in 481 deaths. It has the unfortunate distinction of being the county with the most vehicle-related deaths. Twenty of those occurred on I-94, making that the most dangerous road in Wayne County. Stretches of I-94 also happen to be the most dangerous roadways in six other counties.

Following Wayne County is Oakland County, which experienced 182 fatal crashes, resulting in 189 deaths during that same period. Of those, 14 occurred on M-59. The most dangerous road in Kent County is US-131, which had 17 fatal crashes. Overall, Kent County had 182 fatalities because of 172 fatal crashes.

County
Fatalities
Fatal Accidents
Drunk Driving Related
% Drunk Driving
Winter Conditions
Most Deadly Road (Fatal Accidents)

Alcona County

5

5

2

40%

1

N Hubbard Lake Rd (1)

Alger County

6

5

0

0%

0

County Rd H-58 (2)

Allegan County

40

39

10

26%

3

US-131 (5)

Alpena County

5

5

3

60%

1

U.S. 23 N (1)

Antrim County

9

8

3

38%

1

US-31 (2)

Arenac County

15

13

3

23%

0

US-23 (3)

Baraga County

4

4

2

50%

2

US-41 (2)

Barry County

32

29

3

10%

2

M-37 (3)

Bay County

24

23

7

30%

1

M-25 (3)

Benzie County

11

9

3

33%

1

US-31 (2)

Berrien County

66

58

18

31%

1

I-94 (9)

Branch County

11

9

3

33%

0

I-69 (2)

Calhoun County

55

51

21

41%

4

I-94 (4)

Cass County

31

28

12

43%

6

US-12 (8)

Charlevoix County

9

8

1

13%

1

US-131 (4)

Cheboygan County

8

8

6

75%

3

I-75 (2)

Chippewa County

10

9

4

44%

1

I-75 (2)

Clare County

18

16

4

25%

1

M-115 (3)

Clinton County

26

23

3

13%

2

US-127 (5)

Crawford County

6

6

1

17%

1

M-72 (2)

Delta County

17

15

3

20%

1

US-2 (7)

Dickinson County

9

7

3

43%

2

M-95 (1)

Eaton County

46

36

12

33%

2

M-50 (4)

Emmet County

9

8

3

38%

1

County Rd 66 (1)

Genesee County

138

129

38

28%

11

M-54 (16)

Gladwin County

8

6

3

50%

1

M-30 (2)

Gogebic County

7

6

1

17%

2

US-2 (3)

Grand Traverse County

24

23

9

39%

2

US-31 (9)

Gratiot County

16

15

3

20%

1

US-127 (4)

Hillsdale County

22

20

4

20%

1

M-99 (4)

Houghton County

9

9

2

22%

2

US-41 (4)

Huron County

8

7

2

29%

0

Bay Port Rd (1)

Ingham County

61

56

19

34%

4

I-96 (7)

Ionia County

19

19

4

21%

1

M-66 (5)

Iosco County

16

13

0

0%

1

S U.S. 23 (6)

Iron County

2

2

0

0%

1

US-2 (1)

Isabella County

31

26

11

42%

1

M-20 (3)

Jackson County

54

46

10

22%

3

US-127 (7)

Kalamazoo County

87

74

20

27%

6

I-94 (8)

Kalkaska County

10

10

2

20%

3

M-72 (3)

Kent County

182

172

53

31%

6

US-131 (17)

Keweenaw County

1

1

1

100%

0

N Ahmeek St (1)

Lake County

6

6

1

17%

1

W 9 Mile Rd (1)

Lapeer County

35

34

10

29%

3

M-53 (6)

Leelanau County

12

9

2

22%

1

M-22 (3)

Lenawee County

35

33

9

27%

1

M-52 (5)

Livingston County

51

41

8

20%

0

I-96 (8)

Luce County

3

3

2

67%

1

Co Rd 407 (2)

Mackinac County

13

11

4

36%

1

US-2 (2)

Macomb County

148

143

36

25%

3

I-94 (10)

Manistee County

8

8

2

25%

1

US-31 (2)

Marquette County

19

19

8

42%

4

US-41 (7)

Mason County

22

21

9

43%

0

US-10 (9)

Mecosta County

9

9

2

22%

2

US-131 (3)

Menominee County

7

7

3

43%

0

US-41 (2)

Midland County

35

33

14

42%

0

US-10 (4)

Missaukee County

2

2

1

50%

0

N Layman Rd (1)

Monroe County

66

58

24

41%

1

I-75 (9)

Montcalm County

51

45

15

33%

1

Co Rd 506 (4)

Montmorency County

2

2

1

50%

0

Co Rd 487 (1)

Muskegon County

57

55

11

20%

1

M-120 (7)

Newaygo County

33

32

9

28%

2

M-82 (3)

Oakland County

189

182

42

23%

6

M-59 (14)

Oceana County

12

10

5

50%

0

Washington Rd (1)

Ogemaw County

11

11

4

36%

2

Co Rd 25 (4)

Ontonagon County

4

4

2

50%

1

Stroud Rd (1)

Osceola County

15

12

4

33%

0

Mackinaw Trail (4)

Oscoda County

5

4

2

50%

0

M-33 (3)

Otsego County

12

9

1

11%

2

I-75 (4)

Ottawa County

63

60

21

35%

5

US-31 (8)

Presque Isle County

5

4

2

50%

0

US-23 (2)

Roscommon County

13

12

3

25%

2

M-55 (4)

Saginaw County

67

65

17

26%

0

Dixie Hwy (5)

Sanilac County

13

12

4

33%

0

M-90 (2)

Schoolcraft County

3

3

1

33%

1

US-2 (1)

Shiawassee County

21

21

9

43%

1

I-69 (5)

St Clair County

55

51

7

14%

3

King Rd (3)

St Joseph County

40

34

11

32%

2

M-60 (5)

Tuscola County

29

27

11

41%

1

M-15 (3)

Van Buren County

47

42

16

38%

3

Red Arrow Hwy (3)

Washtenaw County

93

87

29

33%

5

I-94 (9)

Wayne County

481

444

138

31%

8

I-94 (20)

Wexford County

10

9

2

22%

1

M-115 (2)

Methodology

MoneyGeek analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration FARS (fatal accident reporting system) database using fatality data from 2017, 2018 and 2019. 2019 is the latest data available in the system.

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