Experience you can trust – a local practice reaching back five generations
Photo of William H. Wilhoit

What causes most fatal rural crashes?

Motorists who are safety-conscious can still end up hurt or dealing with extensive property damage because of the bad decisions of other motorists. Therefore, because these routes are less populated by potentially negligent motorists, people sometimes assume that rural roads are automatically safer than urban roads. However, that is not necessarily the case. Approximately 40% of reported traffic fatalities in 2021 occurred in rural locations.

Certain factors tend to play a role in rural crashes, especially the collisions that end up causing fatalities.

Common trends related to the worst rural car crashes

When looking at collision statistics, there are certain trends that stand out. Many of the people who die in collisions on rural roads did not use their safety restraints or seat belts. There is a slightly higher percentage of fatalities associated with the lack of restraints in rural areas when compared with urban areas.

Drunk drivers are another concern. Obviously, there are plenty of drunk drivers on urban roads as well as rural roads. However, those under the influence often try to take the back roads home to avoid police detection. Many tragic impaired driving collisions take place in the countryside as a result. Additionally, speed is a factor in many fatal rural crashes. With higher speed limits in rural areas, people may feel confident traveling at unsafe speeds and could potentially cause a crash.

Many of these concerns are similar to the issues that affect those in urban collisions. There is one factor that plays a role in many fatal rural crashes and is not as common in urban collisions. The one factor tying many of these crashes together isn’t speed or alcohol use.

Approximately two-thirds of the reported fatalities in rural settings involved a vehicle leaving the road (a roadway departure). That is substantially higher than the percentage of fatalities involving a roadway departure in urban areas, which was roughly 39%. If a vehicle goes off the road in the city, the driver might just hit the curb and end up coping with damage to the vehicle. In a rural setting, they might end up striking a tree.

Drivers who are aware of the safety hazards that they may encounter in different settings may have an easier time keeping themselves and their passengers safe on their next drive.