Driving through the bucolic American scenery of farms, waterways, forests and wildlife can make for an ideal day excursion or road trip. Yet rural driving carries a far higher risk for the average driver, accounting for half of all fatal car accidents – despite the fact that fewer than 20 percent of U.S. citizens live in rural areas.
Driving in lesser developed rural areas has its own set of hazards, making certain types of accidents more common. Thus, it is imperative to be aware of these hazards when hitting country roads.
Trends and Hazards
Since 1977, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has compiled annual statistics through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), and has documented trends and hazards that are of increased importance to drivers and policy making officials. Rural and urban environments are generally self-explanatory and are officially defined by the U.S. Census – each with their own characteristics based on population and density of residential and commercial development.
Several notable numbers stand out when examining traffic accident deaths on rural roadways. In 2017, 73 percent of large truck occupant deaths and 67 percent of pickup truck occupant deaths occurred on rural, rather than urban, roads. It also found that 57 percent of SUV occupant fatalities occurred in rural areas.
While rural road deaths have decreased annually overall, the rate of deadly crashes remains troublingly higher in general than on city roadways.
Why Is Rural Driving More Dangerous?
What are some of the reasons rural driving can be so much more dangerous? First, rural roadways share several characteristics. Rural roads tend to be poorly lit compared urban streets and highways, making visibility challenging. Night driving in any environment already carries higher risks for drivers, and in rural areas there is typically minimal to no street lighting.
Rural roads have fewer safety measures, such as guard rails and traffic barriers, and may have little to no road shoulders, making a minor swerve a potential accident. In a rural environment there are also typically different road obstacles, which can include everything from wildlife, tree and vegetation debris, to unexpected curves or changes in road surfaces.
In addition, road navigation systems are constantly improving, but GPS mapping of rural environments is still behind urban areas, leaving drivers to rely more often on maps or roadway signs.
Drivers who travel on rural roads can take some common sense precautions to stay safe. Distracted driving in any environment carries serious risks, so avoid texting, taking your eyes off the road for operating the radio or a GPS, and talking on the phone – even with a speaker.
Another risk that every driver can take responsibility for is never getting behind the wheel if they are intoxicated. Additionally, studies have also found that nighttime drowsy driving has similar effects on the body as consuming alcohol, so planning trips to coincide during daylight hours should be done where possible.
Even the best planning, however, will not always prevent a serious or deadly accident caused by someone else. It is critically important if you have been injured to have a Delaware car accident lawyer to fight for the medical care and compensation you deserve.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Fight for Those Injured in Rural Road Car Accidents
The Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are experienced in representing victims of car accidents and helping them obtain the compensation they most need. We provide free consultations to accident victims in Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Middletown, and across Delaware, as well as throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To discuss your case, please complete our online contact form or call 302-888-1221 today.