Factors That Increase The Risk of a Fatal Car Crash On Rural Roads
The US Census Bureau reports that only about 19% of people in the United States live in what are considered “rural” areas. However, reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have consistently shown that anywhere from 45 to 52% of traffic fatalities occur in rural settings.
There are several reasons why this trend has persisted. Read on to learn about which factors can make rural areas more dangerous for motorists.
The roads in rural areas are, unsurprisingly, less well-lit than urban areas. Because of this, a driver will have significantly decreased visibility when driving late at night. This can impact your ability to see upcoming roadway changes, speed limit signs, or potential hazards that may arise.
Some of the most common causes of crashes in rural areas are the environmental aspects. Animals in the roads, debris after storms, and how the roads are built can all become hazardous if a driver isn’t attentive. Along with this, damaged or unfinished roadways can be unfortunately common and increase your probability of a blowout.
Over the last decade, data has shown that drivers in rural areas are more likely to speed, drive under the influence, and disregard safety laws because of the decreased law enforcement presence. This often manifests itself in decreased seat belt usage.
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that only 74.7% of drivers in rural areas report active seat belt use, which is nearly 15% lower than drivers in urban areas. This study also highlighted that 61.3% of drivers and passengers in rural fatal crashes were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, compared to 44.4% in urban areas.
Emergency Response Times in Rural Areas
A study published by JAMA Surgery observed the correlation between emergency medical response times and fatality rates in crashes. Their findings concluded that the longer it takes emergency medical services, like an ambulance, to arrive on the scene, the increased likelihood of fatality.
By examining this through a rural vs. urban scope, they found that counties with longer response and transport times were often rural and had less accessibility to trauma centers and helicopter services. Ultimately, 61% of response times in rural areas were greater than 9 minutes, while urban areas had 70% of response times in under 9 minutes.
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