According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, rural roads account for a disproportionate number of fatal crashes in the state. For example, in 2019, rural roads accounted for 56% of all deadly crashes in Kentucky, despite accounting for only 23% of the state’s total roadway mileage. These numbers underscore the human toll Kentucky motorists should consider when on the road.
Lack of infrastructure
Many rural roads in Kentucky lack the infrastructure and safety features of urban and suburban streets. For example, rural roads may lack adequate lighting, sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities. In addition, many rural roads in Kentucky have narrow lanes and little to no shoulder, which can increase the risk of crashes and make it more difficult for drivers to maneuver safely.
Rural roads in Kentucky often have higher speed limits than urban and suburban roads, which can contribute to a greater risk of crashes and more severe injuries. Higher speeds can also make it more difficult for drivers to react to unexpected hazards or obstacles.
Kentucky roads often traverse areas with dense forests, wetlands and other natural habitats. This can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents with wildlife, such as deer, which can cause severe injuries and fatalities.
Lack of cell phone coverage
Many rural areas in Kentucky lack reliable cell phone coverage, making it more difficult for drivers to call for help in an emergency. This can delay response times and increase the risk of serious injuries or fatalities.
Poor road conditions
Many rural roads in Kentucky are poorly maintained, with potholes, cracks and other hazards that can increase the risk of crashes. In addition, rural roads may be more susceptible to damage from weather events, such as flooding, which can further degrade road conditions.
Limited emergency response resources
Rural areas in Kentucky may have limited emergency response resources, such as ambulance services and fire departments, which can delay response times in the event of a crash. This can increase the risk of severe injuries and fatalities.
Staying safe on Kentucky rural roads
Rural roads in Kentucky can be hazardous due to a variety of factors. Therefore, if you must travel on rural roads in the state, it is essential to exercise caution, obey posted speed limits and be aware of potential hazards. Be prepared for emergencies by knowing how to change a tire, maintaining a first aid kit, and keeping emergency supplies like water, food, and blankets in the vehicle.