The I-4 Dead Zone is one of America’s most haunted highways. Located between Tampa and Daytona Beach, Florida, this stretch of road is plagued with accidents, injuries, and strange occurrences since the 1950s. When workers broke ground on the highway in 1959, they discovered graves and decided to continue the construction of the highway on top of them. The day the graves were covered with fill dirt, Hurricane Donna changed its course from the Gulf of Mexico and headed northeast across The Sunshine State.
Hurricane Donna’s new route ran parallel to the highway’s planned route, and the eye of the hurricane settled over the graves. It grew to become one of the worst hurricanes to hit the state in its history. Other strange occurrences have plagued the I-4 Dead Zone since it opened to the public, including a tractor-trailer that jackknifed on opening day right above the graves leading to the highway’s first fatality. There’s been over one-thousand documented accidents on the stretch of highway since 1963.
If you love to be spooked and are looking for a different kind of road trip, the Florida haunted highway experience is for you.
First Stretch: Sanford
You’ll begin your road trip in Sanford, Florida. Sanford was officially established in 1877 with the original inhabitants from the Jojoro native American tribe. When Europeans ventured into what would later become Florida, they eradicated the tribe with the disease.
After the Seminole Wars and Florida joined the United States, Swedish immigrants built the land upon which Americans settled. About a decade later, a horrible fire tore through the city, destroying everything in its path. Shortly after that, a Yellow Fever outbreak and a harsh winter made it impossible for the Swedish immigrants to recover and most died.
Remember the graves we mentioned that seemed to be the starting point for all the troubles the I-4 highway has? They originated in Sanford and belonged to those immigrants who died of Yellow Fever. Drivers have reported cell phone dead zones or their radios crackling with voices they don’t recognize. Most of the accidents on this stretch of Florida’s haunted highway come to a stop cradling where the graves were discovered during construction.
Second Stretch: Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida is one of America’s top destinations for spring break, snowbirding, and travel in general. The I-4 was connected straight to Daytona at Walt Disney’s insistence on making it easy for both coasts of Florida to drive to Disney World.
During construction, land surveyors believed that a Native American burial ground was in the path of the highway as it led into Daytona Beach. They proceeded with construction anyway as the western portions of the I-4 were built and were greeted by Hurricane Donna crossing into the Atlantic Ocean as they halted construction on the eastern part.
Driving into Daytona Beach is an experience for those chasing ghosts. Reports of pioneer ghosts, Native Americans, and other indigenous people yelling at drivers on the side of the road as they travel. These ghosts seem to follow some drivers and ignore others. CB radios have picked up voices, moans, and screams. Cell phones and other electronic devices lose signal or pick up similar voices over the airwaves.
Safety on the I-4 Dead Zone
On a good day or night, the stretch between Sanford and Daytona Beach is an hour drive or less. Depending on traffic, weather, and what you see, you may be stuck on the I-4 Dead Zone a little longer than you’d like. It’s important to remember when traveling the length of Florida’s haunted highway that you’re cautious.
You and other drivers will be looking for something to happen, which will affect your good judgment on the road. Drive the speed limit, follow the rules of the road, and remember that it’s better to see nothing on this road trip than being frightened into an accident you may not walk away from.
Also, it’s important to be aware of what else you might see on the road itself and not its more haunted cities. Phantom drivers and trucks are a common occurrence to those driving, especially at night. Concerned drivers have called police stations and the highway patrol to alert them to these phantom cars and trucks driving too fast and even crashing on remote stretches of the highway in a few reports.
Orbs floating across the highway erratically, apparitions trying to hitchhike on the side of the road, and freezing patches of the road despite hot temperatures have been reported when traveling the I-4.
If you’re interested in capturing the experience on camera, I recommend investing in a dash-mounted camera or GoPro that does the work for you. Don’t take pictures of videos yourself, as the distraction may prove deadly on this haunted highway.
Take it slow and steady and be prepared for anything whether you’re dealing with humans or something otherworldly on the road.