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Why are rural roads so deadly for drivers?

On Behalf of | Jul 12, 2023 | Car Accidents

It is common for people to assume that the most dangerous roads are those with the heaviest traffic flows. As a result, people tend to become more anxious about driving in urban spaces, but statistically, rural roads are among the most dangerous streets in the country. Urban streets may have more vehicles and pedestrians, but they also tend to have lower speed limits, traffic cameras and more police vehicles present.

When looking at collision statistics, it becomes quite clear that rural roads experience some of the worst collisions and are where a disproportionate number of fatal crashes occur based on the traffic rates on such roads.

What the statistics say

One of the biggest factors connecting the thousands of deaths on rural roads across the United States is a failure of the deceased party to use restraints. An analysis of deadly crashes between 2016 and 2019, 58% were not wearing restraints at the time of the crash. That is slightly higher than the average for all crashes in 2020, which was 51%.

Another concern is excess speed, with approximately 46% of speed-related traffic deaths occurring on rural roads. Finally, intoxication is an issue as well, with at least 43% of alcohol-related deaths taking place on rural roads. Pedestrians and cyclists tend to have significantly elevated risk on rural roads.

What factors influence these risks?

One of the reasons that rural roads are so dangerous is that people know there are fewer police officers monitoring these streets and will therefore intentionally choose to drive on rural roads in a less safe manner. They may not worry about not using a safety belt because they don’t think about the risk of a crash but rather only the risk of a possible ticket. The same would be true in cases involving speeding or impairment at the wheel.

Drivers assume that they won’t have any significant consequences because their chances of crossing paths with a police officer or having their actions captured on camera will be much lower on rural roads and less lighting also make rural roads more dangerous. Higher speeds can increase the likelihood and severity of a wreck. Finally, animals can be a major risk factor in rural settings and may result in people doing seemingly unsafe and unpredictable things at the wheel.

Identifying and accounting for risk factors in different areas may help motorists lower their overall chance of experiencing a major collision.