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The Deadliest Roads in Missouri [Study]

December 27, 2021Firm News

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a lower volume of traffic, preliminary reports show that traffic deaths in Missouri actually increased by 12 percent from 2019 to 2020 and continued to rise throughout 2021. In fact, 2020 reflected Missouri’s highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007.

Though there have been fewer people driving on Missouri highways, more motorists are driving at higher speeds and engaging in unsafe behavior than ever before – resulting in deadlier crashes.

At Goldblatt + Singer, we recognize that many of these fatal crashes can be prevented through safer driving habits and increased awareness.

We worked with data visualization agency, 1Point21 Interactive to identify areas where motorists may be at higher risk of being involved in a fatal crash.

For this study, we examined all fatal crashes that occurred on either primary or secondary roads during the period of 2000-2019. (Primary roads are limited-access highways within the interstate highway system. Secondary roads are main arteries, usually in the U.S. highway, state highway, or county highway system.)

The Most Dangerous Mile in Missouri

There are approximately 23,000 miles of primary and secondary roads in Missouri. During the two-decade study period, 12,976 fatal crashes (80 percent) took place on Missouri primary and secondary roads.

While the bulk of our analysis centered on finding the deadliest sections of road in the entire state, we also identified the deadliest single mile of highway – a stretch of I-55 just south of Downtown in St. Louis.

Missouri's Deadliest Mile

More fatal crashes have occurred here (16) than any other mile of highway in the state. Between 2000-2019, 17 people lost their lives on this one-mile stretch alone.

The Most Dangerous Five-Mile Stretches in Missouri

As you may have expected, nine of the ten worst five-mile stretches of road in Missouri are located in the two most populated cities: Kansas City and St. Louis.  Just a mile up the road from the deadliest mile is the worst five-mile stretch in Missouri. This section of I-44, between exits 288-292A, saw 37 fatal crashes and 44 deaths during the time period.

Missouri's Top Ten Deadliest Roads

Seven of the ten deadliest stretches were found in Kansas City and two in St. Louis, while just one was found in a rural area – a section of US-54 outside of Jefferson City.

Interactive Map

We plotted our findings on this interactive map.  Found here are both the ten deadliest road stretches in the state (in red) as well as the deadliest stretch (in blue).  Click and drag to move the focus of the map and use the mouse wheel or pinch to zoom in and out.  If viewing on a mobile device, rotate for the best viewing experience.


The Ten Deadliest Road Stretches in Missouri

Rank Road Start/End Exits Closest City Crashes Deaths
1 I-44 288-292A St Louis 37 40
2 I-435 59-65 KC 35 42
3 US-71 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd-Hickman Mills Dr KC 35 38
4 I-70 8A-12 KC 35 35
5 US-24 Prospect Av-S Brookside Ave KC 32 35
6 I-435 70-75B KC 28 29
7 I-70 238B-243B St Louis 27 31
8 I-435 65-69 KC 25 32
9 US-54 Cody Dr-Honey Creek Dr Jefferson City 24 29
10 I-70 2H-6 KC 24 25


Missouri’s Worst Five-Mile Stretches by Region

While most of the top ten are found in Kansas City and Missouri, we wanted to provide an analysis that can benefit all motorists in Missouri. To accomplish this, we also found the deadliest stretch in each of the eleven major regions throughout the state.

Deadliest Roads in Missouri Regions

The Deadliest Roads in Each Region

Region Road Start/End Exit Closest City Crashes Deaths
Bootheel US-160 County Rd 488 -County Rd 323 Poplar Bluff 14 18
Central US-50 NW 1421st Rd – NW 375th Rd Lake Lafayette 7 9
KC I-435 59-65 KC 35 42
MidMissouri US-54  Cody Dr-Honey Creek Dr Jefferson City 24 29
Northeast US-61 Junct US-25 – Junct SR-68 Palmyra 11 12
Northwest I-29 Exit 35 – Mile Point 41 St. Joseph 11 12
South Central SR-47 Schuchart Rd-Vondera Ave Union 16 22
Southeast US-67 SR-47 – Beginnings Road Bonne Terre 16 20
Southern SR-5 N Washington Ave – Orchard Dr Lebanon 11 15
Southwest I-44 75-80 Springfield 10 14
St Louis I-44 288-292A St. Louis 37 40


Data Sources and Takeaways

No matter the time of year, the importance of safe driving practices cannot be emphasized enough. Take personal responsibility for your safety by wearing a seat belt, driving at the speed limit, and driving without unnecessary distractions or impairment. Do your part as a responsible driver to keep the road safe.

Make sure to check www.kandrive.org for any delays or any ongoing construction on your route. Read Missouri’s new highway safety plan Show-Me Zero, Driving Missouri Toward Safer Roads for more strategies.

This study is based on 2000-2019 fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We isolated and examined all crashes that occurred on both primary and secondary roads in Missouri.

If you would like to report or republish our findings, please link to this page to provide a citation for our work.

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