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True or false: Rural roads are safer than city streets?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Crashes

The idea of a leisurely Sunday drive sounds calm and safe. It conjures up images of a relaxed drive down wide-open rural roads. It certainly doesn’t seem like the type of scenario wherein a fatal accident is very likely.

A fatal accident seems more like a thing that would happen in a city, where there is a lot of noise, confusion and traffic congestion. There are also simply far more people. Instead of a sleepy rural town, you could have tens of thousands of people rushing from one location to the next. So, is the idea that rural roads are safer than city streets actually correct?

False: Rural roads are disproportionately more dangerous

You may be surprised to learn that this assumption is false, and that the truth is that rural roads have been found to be disproportionately dangerous in studies. They have lower traffic levels, drivers in rural areas cover fewer miles every day and yet they still experience roughly half of all fatal car accidents. This means that the fatal accident rate on these roads is much higher than the fatal accident rate in cities. It may feel safer to drive in rural areas, but the consequences of an accident can be much worse.

What’s the difference?

One of the big differences between city and rural driving is speed. There may be the exact same number of accidents in the city as on a specific rural road, but those urban accidents are more likely to happen around 30 miles an hour, not 60 miles an hour. This makes them much less likely to be fatal.

Another difference is simply the distance to the nearest hospital. In the city, many people can get medical treatment in just a few minutes. In a rural area, it may take a few minutes for anyone to discover the accident. It could then take much longer for emergency crews to respond and transport injured people to the hospital.

While driving in rural areas can be relaxing or exhilarating, it is particularly important for motorists to be careful when traveling outside the city in order to avoid experiencing serious harm instead of reaching their intended destination.