Since the early 2000s, the 353-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 431 that blazes through east Alabama has been known as one of the most dangerous roadways in the world and earned the nickname “Highway to Hell.”
With “poor visibility, high speeds and sudden 2-4 lane changes,” U.S. 431 was determined the fourth most deadly road in the country in 2013 by the World Health Organization. The organization presented information on road safety from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population. The report indicated the total number of traffic deaths worldwide at the time was 1.24 million per year — 33,808 in the U.S.
As of October, there have been 310 traffic accidents in Albertville and 48 traffic accidents in Boaz on U.S. 431, according to local police and fire department records. There has only been one fatality — a woman died after suffering sever burns only days after being involved in a collision in Boaz.
No statistics were available for the current year in Guntersville, but as of October, the city’s police department has recorded 17 traffic fatalities on U.S. 431 in Guntersville since 2014. Statistics show police worked 239 traffic accidents on U.S. Highway 431 from 2014-2015.
Since study results and statistics have been released, the Alabama Department of Transportation and various municipalities where U.S. 431 is located have worked diligently to create a safer traffic environment and improve road conditions to lower the fatality rate.
What exactly is being done, and is it enough?
The Reporter looks to answer those questions in a six-part analysis of U.S. 431, particularly the stretch of highway spanning from Boaz through Albertville and into Guntersville.