Fatal highways: America's 9 most dangerous places for drivers

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    The next time a meandering urbanite cuts you off on the way to the shopping center or dents your fender in a parking lot, you might feel like you're living in one of this country's most dangerous places to drive. Think again.

    According to a survey by Auto Insurance Center, a car insurance comparison website, the worst places for fatalities are nearly all rural, frequently poor areas of the southern and western tiers of the country, crisscrossed by roads with high speed limits. And despite having high insurance rates, the bumper-to-bumper trafficked northeast and California came off well in this survey.

    But there are several caveats here. Auto Insurance Center's survey covers 20 years, included 710,000 fatal auto accidents, and plotted the location of each one. While large urban areas had more deaths by motor vehicle, they had fewer relative to their overall population.

    Another caveat is that the accident data are, like cars, constantly moving. Guardrails are put up, seatbelt laws are enforced, better medical care keeps people alive and drunk drivers are caught before they kill. "Good marks one year can be bad marks the next," the survey noted.

    Most of these counties are places you've never heard of, or only seen when you whizzed by a road sign. But if you are one of the 50 million people who'll take a driving vacation this year, your odds of surviving a major car accident in these places are a lot lower than elsewhere.

    Here's a list of the nine most dangerous counties around the U.S., along with some of the safest.

  • Ed Leefeldt

    Ed Leefeldt is an award-winning investigative and business journalist who has worked for Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, and contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.