Last year, Pew reported on the high rate of fatal auto accidents on rural roads compared to urban areas. This problem disproportionately affects Kentucky residents, where the fatal accident rate on these rates is 250% above the national average according to transportation research organization TRIP.
Review the research and learn more about safety measures that could help prevent these devastating accidents.
The data about rural auto accidents
Study authors cited data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating that although only 20% of Americans live in rural areas, 50% of annual traffic fatalities occur on rural roads. In addition, the Insurance Institute on Highway Safety reports that rural roads have an accident fatality rate twice that of urban roads. Pew says that a staggering 90% of traffic fatalities occur on rural roads.
Experts theorize that excessive curves, limited lighting, small shoulders and high-speed driving contribute to this serious safety issue. The distance to receive medical help may also contribute to these fatalities. NHTSA says that 41% of injured drivers died on the way to the hospital in urban areas in 2018, compared to 58% of drivers in rural areas.
Measures to address the issue
Highway safety advocates recommend small changes that could make a major difference in the safety of rural roads. Examples include expanded shoulders, improved lighting, updated blacktop markings, median barriers and rumble strips. These engineering updates strive to reduce the element of human error in auto accidents.
In November, the federal government passed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. NHTSA will receive $8.4 billion to implement safety programs under this new law.