Danger! 6 Roadway Hazards to Avoid In And Around Flagstaff

4 Minutes Read

What dangers are lurking on the roads in and around the most popular destinations in Flagstaff? Sure, the area is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, but accidents can and do happen, even when you least expect it. Knowing some of the most common road hazards to watch for can help you safely enjoy our region’s one-of-a-kind attractions. Find out how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe as you explore all that Flagstaff has to offer!

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East Ponderosa Parkway and East Route 66: Flagstaff's Worst Intersection

Flagstaff has several notorious intersections that are dangerous even to the most careful of drivers, but one stands out above the rest - East Ponderosa Parkway and East Route 66. The product of a redesign intended to make it safer, the changes actually made the intersection much more dangerous. Accidents more than doubled from 21 per year to over 47 since the intersection was changed to a four-way intersection from a T-shaped one. According to the Federal Highway Administration, four-way stops see a 20-30% spike in accidents after the conversion from a T-shaped intersection.

How to Stay Safe

Knowing about the dangers of Ponderosa Parkway and Route 66 is the first step for avoiding them. Many people aren’t aware of the dangers that this intersection poses, as it’s usually overshadowed by the notorious Five Points and the intersection of South Milton Avenue and West University Road. The single most common cause of accidents occur due to drivers following another driver in front of them too closely, often because they are distracted. Remain aware of potential dangers on the road or you could soon be visiting an auto mechanic to repair damage from an accident.

Interstate 17: Phoenix's Deadliest Road

Running for 145 miles from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Interstate 17 rises over a mile as it takes drivers from the lowlands of the Valley of the Sun to the snowy mountains above. Unfortunately, I-17 ranks as the 4th deadliest road in the United States (and the most dangerous in Phoenix), with an average of one fatality occurring every .87 miles. Over half of all accidents occur within 30 miles of the city, but drivers can also face hazardous conditions such as fog, rain, snow, and ice. Drivers may face reduced visibility during weather events, adding to the dangers.

How to Stay Safe

Drivers should always remain vigilant while on I-17, but especially so within the first 30 miles outside of Phoenix. This area has a much higher frequency of accidents than the rest of the road to Flagstaff, even though the conditions themselves may be more hazardous. Drivers should ensure they’re not speeding as they leave the city and should watch for others on the road who are behaving recklessly. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others.

State Route 89A: Rollovers and Fiery Crashes

State Route 89A connects Flagstaff south to the otherworldly landscapes of Sedona, but with great reward comes great risk. The road winds through high valley walls covered in tall pines that offer majestic views during the day. However, the road’s hairpin turns and the darkness at night make violent crashes a risk to anyone on the road. Several rollovers in recent years underscore just how dangerous the road can be (and how big your auto repair bill could be) if you’re not careful.

How to Stay Safe

To stay safe on a road like State Route 89A, it’s vital to remain attentive at all times to road conditions and potential oncoming hazards. You’ll have little room to maneuver away from a danger, making an overreaction much more dangerous than it would be elsewhere. Avoid night driving on this road if possible and give yourself enough time to get to your destination. Be extra vigilant about avoiding distractions, especially if you’re traveling with a large party of people, or you could find yourself having to visit an auto shop.

Night Driving: Hidden Dangers in Sedona

Sedona’s swirling sandstone formations are intoxicating to visitors, but they can pose a hidden danger to drivers once the sun goes down. Sedona and its surrounding areas are kept relatively dark at night to protect the views of Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory. After sundown, many of Sedona’s roads inside and outside of the city become too treacherous for many drivers to safely navigate. A driver’s headlights may be the only source of illumination for miles, sometimes leading to disaster.

How to Stay Safe

Visitors who avoid driving in and around Sedona at night can reduce the risk they’re in a serious accident. RVs are especially vulnerable to night accidents - their size alone can make navigating the winding roads around the city hazardous. If you do travel to Sedona, plan on staying overnight or make it a day trip with plenty of sunlight left over to guide you back home.

Stranded: Snow Closures on I-40

Running from California to North Carolina, Interstate 40 is one of the most important roads in Arizona - and one of the most dangerous. Over a four year period, 220 people died on this interstate, prompting the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to add a stretch of the highway to its Safety Corridor project. I-40 has hazards throughout the year, from high-speed traffic at all times to proximity to brush fires in the drier months. However, in the winter months, heavy snows can shut the whole freeway down, leading to drivers being stranded in freezing temperatures overnight.

How to Stay Safe

If you plan on traveling I-10, bring supplies with you in case you get stranded, such as food, water, blankets, and cell phone batteries and cables. If you’re traveling in winter, consider bringing anything you would bring to drive in the snow and enough warm clothing to last the night if your car gets stuck. Remain vigilant on the road at all times of the year - I-40 is dangerous even when the skies are clear.

Lake Mary Road: When Looks Kill

Running alongside the eastern shore of scenic Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Lake Mary Road is a popular area for sightseers. Drivers and cyclists share the road, which became much easier in recent years, thanks to the addition of a dedicated bike lane. However, drivers can face dangers if they get distracted by the sights and sounds of the area. Fatal collisions and rollovers aren’t uncommon here, making it important to stay cautious if you’re behind the wheel.

How to Stay Safe

Distracted driving is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, and Lake Mary Road provides plenty of opportunities to take away your focus. Minimize distractions while on the road, including distractions from passengers. Also keep an eye out for cyclists and other vehicles - just because there seems to be a lot of space to maneuver, doesn't mean you’ll be safe in a close call.

An Auto Body Repair Shop in Flagstaff You Can Trust

Even if you follow all of our tips, you could still get into an accident while exploring the Flagstaff area. If you need an auto body repair shop to make your vehicle look like new again after an accident, contact Flagstaff Collision Center today. As one of the leading auto body repair shops in Flagstaff, all of our technicians are ASE-certified and we use factory-grade equipment and OEM parts. Contact us today to schedule your collision repair appointment


Michael Whittemore