Drivers often give preferential consideration to rural roads and surface streets as they plan their routes to work or a special event. Highways and interstates are not only prone to heavy traffic, but they have a reputation for being the location of the worst collisions that occur. And in rural areas, such as outside Rochester, Bloomington and metro Minneapolis-St. Paul, country roads are often your only option.
Unfortunately, driving on rural or country roads might actually increase your risk of getting into a significant collision. According to a recent study, rural roads are where nearly half of all fatal collisions occur annually.
What does the research show about the risk on rural roads?
Researchers routinely look at collision statistics to try to identify patterns. Persistent patterns can lead to changes in safety features in vehicles, traffic laws and road design.
Research and data from recent years shows that fatal crashes occur on rural roads far more than most people realize. According to an analysis of collision records, 85,002 people died between 2016 and 2020 in wrecks that occurred on rural roads. These rural roads are the site of many fatal wrecks.
Why are rural roads so dangerous?
There are many reasons that roads outside of urban centers tend to see more videos despite the area having a lower population density. First and foremost, the speed limit is higher in most rural areas, meaning that the severity of the crash is likely to be worse. People often exceed the speed limit by a significant amount because they assume there won’t be any police patrols.
Secondly, the rural location will make the road more attractive to those under the influence and hoping to avoid law enforcement officers. Finally, a lack of illumination or street signs might contribute to collisions because of how drivers handle themselves.
Knowing the risk leads to better choices
Obviously, you can’t completely avoid traveling on rural roads, even if they are the site of many fatal collisions every year. Instead, a smarter approach is to recognize the possible risk and be more proactive about protecting yourself.
Using defensive driving techniques can help, as can avoiding rural roads late at night when the lack of light or the possibility of drunk drivers might negatively affect your safety. Understanding research about motor vehicle crash trends can also help you avoid becoming a crash statistic yourself.