It’s true that individuals are more likely to suffer fatal car accidents on rural roads than they are in urban and suburban settings. This reality was confirmed when studies determined that about 50% of fatal accidents happen on rural roads. Roughly 19% of people in the United States live in rural areas, so the fact that 50% of fatal accidents occur in these locations is shocking.
Why is this the case? Rural roads are often constructed on straight paths and can even be beautiful and enticing, the kind of place where someone goes for a Sunday drive. Why is it that they are so incredibly dangerous? Here are three main reasons.
Dangerous driving behaviors
For one thing, some studies have noted that a lack of seatbelt use, distracted driving, speeding and impaired driving are all major issues in rural areas. Some of these concerns stem from limited options. For instance, someone who has been drinking at a bar in a rural area may feel that they have no way to get home other than driving while they are still impaired, but someone in the city may just walk home or use a taxi.
Higher speed limits
It’s also important to note that simply driving at a higher rate of speed makes it more likely that a crash will be fatal. Even drivers who don’t break the speed limit generally travel much faster on rural roads, as the limit may be set at 55 miles an hour (or higher). City speeds tend to be far lower on average The accidents that take place at higher speeds are usually going to be more severe.
Limited medical services
The final factor is that medical services in rural areas tend to be limited. Hospitals are not as large and do not tend to be stocked with the same kinds of technology. Additionally, emergency crews just are not as likely to be near rural crash scenes. Delayed responses and medical treatment by minutes or even hours can increase the odds that a car accident victim passes away from their injuries.
All of these challenges contribute to the reality that accidents that occur on rural roads are far more likely to be fatal in nature. Those who drive in rural areas need to be aware of these risks so that they can drive defensively in an effort to safeguard their well-being.