Rural areas are characterized by low traffic volume and sometimes zero cars on the road. It’s hard to imagine an accident occurring when there are not many cars in the first place.
On the other hand, urban areas experience high traffic volume, busy highways, and many public transportations.
There are also pedestrians, riders, and cyclists, and everyone seems to be scrambling to get their way. The situation in urban roads makes it easy to think that they are prone to accidents, which is not true.
Accidents are more common in rural areas where there are fewer vehicles than in urban areas where the traffic volume is usually high. This article explains why rural roads experience more accidents than urban ones.
Statistics of Rural vs Urban Traffic Accidents
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rural roads have the greatest number of road accident injuries and fatalities. In 2019 alone, up to 16,340 deaths were reported on rural roads, while urban locations reported 19,595 fatalities.
According to a study by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 19% of people in the U.S. live in areas classified as rural.
Despite the low population, nearly half of traffic deaths occur in rural areas. The rate of traffic fatalities per 100 miles of travel is twice as high in rural areas than in urban.
Pedestrian and cyclist deaths are more common in urban areas. On the other hand, rural areas experience a higher number of passenger vehicle accident deaths, high-speed road deaths, and large truck accidents.
According to the data gathered by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the year 2020 recorded 74% of deaths of occupants in large trucks, 67% of pickup occupant deaths, and 53% of deaths of SUV occupants. The data also recorded 70% of deaths of cyclists and pedestrians in urban areas.
People are more likely to suffer severe injuries or die if they get into accidents on rural roads. This is mainly because most rural areas are remote and less trafficked.
It’s common for someone to get into an accident and be unconscious for several hours without anyone finding them.
Even if someone calls the paramedics immediately, it may take time before they reach the scene because of the distance.
How soon you get to the hospital after a crash can make a huge difference. The delays can make even minor injuries become severe due to lack of first aid.
Contributing Factors to Rural Traffic Accidents
So, why do more accidents occur in rural areas than in urban? Car accidents in rural areas are caused by driver behavior or environmental conditions. Here are some of the factors that contribute to accidents on rural roads.
Speeding is more common in rural areas due to the low amount of traffic. It’s common to drive for many miles on rural roads without spotting another vehicle. When the roads are clear, drivers are tempted to exceed the speed limits.
In addition, rural roads tend to have higher speed limits of about 55 miles per hour or higher. With such a speed limit, curves and intersections can pose great accident risks.
Finally, rural roads are not so strict on traffic laws and have a low presence of traffic enforcement. Drivers are less likely to receive tickets on rural roads. With this kind of freedom, many rogue drivers easily exceed the speed limit and cause accidents.
Lack of Red Lights or Stop Signs
It’s common to travel on rural roads for several miles without spotting a single red light or stop sign. These signs usually contribute a lot to slowing down traffic, and their absence means that drivers can speed as much as they want.
It’s also easy for collisions to occur because drivers have no signal warning them about other vehicles. They’re free to get in and out of the road. They may not give way to other vehicles and can easily blame their carelessness on the lack of red lights when they cause an accident.
The roads in rural areas are often winding, with many hills and slopes. Winding roads are more dangerous than straight, flat, or grid-like roads. Getting into a head-on collision with other vehicles or a rollover accident is easier.
Many rural roads are often left in poor conditions with potholes, steep drop-offs, and cracks. Any amount of speeding on such roads is sure to result in a fatal accident.
In addition, the rural roads don’t feature any space for pulling off the main road. In case of anything, you’ll be forced to stop right in the middle of the road, which can be dangerous.
Drunk driving is more common on rural roads than in urban areas. This is mainly because it’s less common to be stopped by a traffic officer on rural roads.
Drivers have more freedom to drive in any state without worrying about getting into a DUI problem.
Another reason for this is that rural drivers are forced to drive back home even when drunk because they can’t hail a cab or get other public transportation easily.
Having a designated driver is also inconvenient because of the distance between the town centers and their homes.
Lack of Seatbelts
Rural dwellers are more likely to disregard seatbelt rules than urban people. In the event of an accident, the driver and the occupants without the seatbelt suffer the most impact. Seatbelts reduce the risk of injuries and deaths in an accident.
Urban Traffic Accident Patterns
Just because traffic accidents are more common and severe in rural areas doesn’t mean that the urban areas are safe. Drivers and pedestrians in urban areas face even more dangers than in rural areas.
Due to the big number of cars, it’s normal to ram into each other or hit a pedestrian. The stop-and-go nature can also be confusing, especially for drivers on unfamiliar city roads.
It’s also common for drivers and pedestrians to be distracted while on the road. Common distractions include phones and other devices that quickly get their attention off the road.
Drivers and pedestrians need to be extremely careful when using urban roads. Drivers should always pay attention to the road and follow the traffic rules.
Pedestrians should also avoid distractions while crossing the road and use crosswalks all the time.
Taking your own safety and those of other road users into mind will help keep everyone safe and reduce road accidents.
What Should You Do If You Get into An Accident
If you get involved in a car accident either on rural or urban roads, you should report it to the police immediately and seek medical help. In at-fault states, the person responsible for the accident should be held liable. You need to file a personal injury claim and get compensation for the accident.
You’re entitled to both economic and non-economic damages if you get into an accident. It’s advisable to seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you get your compensation.
Lawyers will help fight for fair compensation after an accident and will give you peace of mind knowing that someone is fighting for you.
Without the help of a lawyer, you might have a difficult time negotiating with the insurance company because they’ll want to limit your compensation as much as possible.
Lawyers are familiar with insurance company tactics and can deal with them better. They’ll ensure you get the compensation you deserve and your life back.
Car accidents can happen anywhere, whether in urban or rural areas. Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians face almost the same dangers on these roads. Depending on the cause, these accidents can be severe or minor.
Always obey the traffic rules to keep everyone safe. If you’re a driver, avoid speeding or driving while drunk. Passengers should always put on their seatbelts, and pedestrians should use crosswalks and pay attention to the road when crossing the streets.
With all the safety tips and traffic rules in mind, both urban and rural roads will be safe for everyone. The numbers in the statistics will reduce significantly.