Washington Fatal Accident Study:

Where Are Washington’s Deadliest Roads, and What Factors Contribute Most to its Fatal Accidents?

MoneyGeek analyzed 1,518 fatal crashes from 2017–2019 to find the deadliest roads in Washington and the factors — distracted driving, speeding, wintry conditions and drunk driving — contributing to those accidents.

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Map of Every Fatal Accident in Washington 2017-2019

Every fatal accident in Washington 2017-2019. Source: MoneyGeek

As of 2019, Washington had 167,632 miles of road. MoneyGeek’s analysis looked at 819 of the state’s roads to determine its deadliest. The study examined the ways distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, seasonality and weather contributed to the 1,518 fatal crashes in Washington from 2017–2019. We also summarized data for each county in the state, including the deadliest road in each county.

Key Findings:

The 10 Most Deadly Stretches of Road in Washington

1. Aurora Ave (SR-99) Between N. Winona Ave and N. 155th St.

Seattle, Shoreline
Shoreline-Seattle: SR-99

Fatal Accidents: 9

Fatalities: 9

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 2.2

Pacific Hwy (SR-99) Between S. 252nd St. to S. 176th St.

Des Moines, Seatac, Kent
Des Moines-Seatac-Kent: SR-99

Fatal Accidents: 9

Fatalities: 9

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.8

I-5 Between S. 96 St. and Exit 133

Tacoma, Lakewood Center
Tacoma-Lakewood Center: I-5

Fatal Accidents: 8

Fatal Accidents: 8

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.6

I-5 Between Exit 119 (Steilacoom-Dupont Rd.) and Exit 124 (Gravelly Lake Dr.)

Lakewood Center, Lakewood
Lakewood Center-Lakewood: I-5

Fatal Accidents: 6

Fatalities: 8

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.3

Pacific Highway SR-99 From S. 16th Ave to S. 263rd St.

Federal Way, Kent
Federal Way-Kent: SR-99

Fatal Accidents: 6

Fatalities: 6

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.2

SR-167 Between Tacoma Junction and N.W. 11st

Tacoma, Puyallup
Tacoma-Puyallup: SR-167

Fatal Accidents: 6

Fatalities: 6

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.2

SR-181 Between W. Meeker St. and S. 180th St.

Tukwila, Kent
Tukwila-Kent: SR-181

Fatal Accidents: 6

Fatalities: 6

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.3

SR-516 Between WA-167 Interchange and S. Military Rd.

Kent
Kent: SR-516

Fatal Accidents: 5

Fatalities: 6

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 2.6

I-5 From Exit 137 to Exit 142A

Federal Way, Milton
Federal Way-Milton: I-5

Fatal Accidents: 5

Fatalities: 5

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.5

I-5 From Exit 14 (Pioneer St. Ridgefield) to Exit 16

Ridgefield, La Center
Ridgefield-La Center: I-5

Fatal Accidents: 5

Fatalities: 5

Fatal Accidents Per Mile: 1.4

Drunk Driving Involved in 33% of Fatal Accidents

From 2017 to 2019, drunk driving contributed to 500 of the 1,518 total fatal accidents in Washington. During those three years, drunk driving outnumbered fatal accidents that involved distracted driving (367), speeding (468) and winter conditions (37).

Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your driving abilities — at just 0.02% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), you can experience some loss of judgment and visible impairment. In Washington, you’re considered legally intoxicated if your BAC reaches 0.08%.

Even when it doesn’t lead to a fatal accident, the costs of drunk driving are extensive and long-lasting, including license suspension, restricted driving privileges, court fines and attorney fees, possible jail time, and increased post-DUI insurance rates. In particular, SR-22 insurance in Washington is significantly more expensive than all other types of coverage.

Speeding Is a Factor in 31% of Deadly Crashes

Speeding contributed to 468 fatal accidents in Washington during a three-year period. That accounts for almost one-third — or 31% — of fatal accidents from 2017 to 2019. Speeding isn’t just about breaking the law — drivers may lose control of their cars, decrease stopping distance from danger ahead and increase crash severity and potential injuries when driving over the speed limit.

Distracted Driving Contributed to 24% of Fatal Accidents

Distracted driving resulted in 367 fatal crashes from 2017–2019. That accounts for nearly a quarter — or 24% — of distracted driving-related accidents in Washington. Distracted driving behaviors like texting, changing the radio station, talking on the phone or even talking to a passenger are potentially dangerous. A study by MoneyGeek ranked Washington as the sixth-worst state for distracted driving.

July Had More Deadly Accidents Than Any Other Month

In Washington, July had the highest number of fatal accidents of any month, with 12.3% of fatal crashes occurring during that time of year. That accounts for 182 fatal accidents during the three years assessed. The majority of those fatal crashes (74) were attributed to speeding. August had the second-highest rate of fatal accidents (9.2%), followed by December (9%).

Average Fatal Accidents By Month: 2017–2019
Month
Fatal Accidents
Drunk Driving Related
Distracted Driving Related
Winter Conditions
Speeding Related
% of Total

January

121

34

31

11

27

7.83%

February

87

23

16

9

32

5.80%

March

114

40

30

4

38

7.40%

April

92

32

23

1

28

6.11%

May

120

35

37

0

37

8.08%

June

132

62

25

0

54

8.88%

July

182

67

40

0

74

12.28%

August

135

44

33

0

28

9.19%

September

132

48

30

1

33

8.33%

October

135

43

27

0

43

8.82%

November

127

30

38

2

34

8.27%

December

141

42

37

9

40

9.01%

Driving Safely Protects You, Others and Your Wallet

Responsible driving reduces your risk of accidents and injuring others, but it can also benefit you financially. In the event of an accident, car insurance is essential to help keep you and your family protected from huge expenses. A full coverage auto insurance policy can take care of any property or bodily injury costs that may arise.

The average annual cost to obtain full coverage insurance in Washington is $1,264. However, rates can vary based on where you live. For example, insurance in Tacoma costs $1,358, while it only costs $1,050 in Spokane. That’s a difference of $308. Insurance in Seattle — the state's largest city — costs $1,312, on average.

These rates are only averages, and your car insurance premiums can vary based on your age, driving record, type of car, age of vehicle and more. Comparing quotes from different insurance providers can help you find the cheapest car insurance company.

Fatal Accidents and Most Dangerous Roads: County Breakdown

The five counties in Washington with the most fatal accidents had 783 such crashes in a three-year period. That’s over half of the deadly accidents that occurred in the state.

King County had a total of 308 fatal accidents, the most of any county from 2017 to 2019. The majority of these accidents happened on State Route 99 and were largely the result of drunk driving (100) or speeding (98).

Fatal Accidents and Contributing Factors By County: 2017–2019
County
Fatalities
Fatal Accidents
Drunk Driving Related
Distracted Driving Related
Speeding Related
Most Deadly Road (Fatal Accidents)

King

325

308

100

64

98

SR-99 (30)

Pierce

177

167

56

45

60

I-5 (16)

Snohomish

123

116

36

30

37

I-5 (16)

Spokane

102

99

38

27

30

US-2 (12)

Yakima

103

93

32

16

21

I-82 (9)

Clark

88

80

25

17

34

I-5 (10)

Thurston

66

63

23

16

22

I-5 (5)

Whatcom

53

49

13

14

22

I-5 (11)

Kitsap

46

46

13

11

17

SR-3 (7)

Grant

49

45

14

17

12

SR-17 (8)

Skagit

47

43

14

10

8

I-5 (10)

Benton

41

39

14

5

9

I-82 (8)

Cowlitz

39

35

12

10

12

SR-504 (5)

Lewis

33

31

11

9

2

US-12 (7)

Okanogan

31

28

13

10

6

US-97 (6)

Kittitas

29

26

6

4

8

I-90 (16)

Grays Harbor

25

24

8

8

7

US-12 (5)

Franklin

25

23

7

6

6

US-395 (7)

Adams

24

22

4

5

9

I-90 (6)

Mason

19

18

5

5

6

SR-3 (5)

Chelan

17

17

6

3

4

US-97 (3)

Clallam

17

16

6

2

2

US-101 (8)

Stevens

16

15

5

6

3

US-395 (9)

Jefferson

17

14

3

2

5

US-101 (4)

Island

15

14

7

3

4

SR-20 (3)

Whitman

15

13

2

2

1

US-195 (3)

Klickitat

13

12

3

3

1

Cr-Glenwood Hwy (2)

Walla Walla

11

11

3

3

3

SR-125 (2)

Lincoln

10

10

3

2

3

US-2 (3)

Skamania

7

7

2

1

4

SR-14 (5)

Ferry

6

6

2

0

3

US-395 (2)

Pend Oreille

8

6

4

1

2

US-2 (2)

Pacific

6

6

2

2

2

US-101 (3)

Douglas

4

4

3

2

1

Cr-Rd M Nw (1)

Garfield

4

4

1

3

1

US-12 (3)

Asotin

3

3

1

1

1

Cr-Ben Johnson Rd (1)

Columbia

3

2

1

1

1

US-12 (2)

San Juan

2

2

2

1

1

Cr-Egg Lake Rd (1)

Wahkiakum

2

1

0

0

0

SR-4 (1)

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. Currently, 2019 is the latest data available in the system.

About the Author


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As a longtime writer and editor with a master's degree in journalism, Erin has written about a variety of topics over the years including lifestyle, business, entertainment and government, but she has spent the last few years focused on various money topics like banking, insurance and budgeting for AAA Living Magazine, Wells Fargo and BB&T. She loves creating content that inspires financial empowerment.


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