New IIHS Study Finds Roads Safer in Urban Areas

Where you live might determine how safe you are behind the wheel. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a research group funded by the insurance industry, finds the safest places to drive are Washington D.C. and Massachusetts, reports USA Today. Among the most dangerous places to drive are Mississippi, Wyoming, Montana, and Louisiana. The federal data was collected on traffic fatalities per 100,000 population and per 100 million miles driven.

Why do rural areas have twice the death rate? Rural roads have higher speed limits and there are fewer roads with safety engineering features such as a divided highway. In terms of medical access, distance from emergency medical personnel may decrease survival following a crash. And trees and obstructions contribute to many fatal traffic crashes in rural areas. Whether or not a state has a motorcycle helmet law and a primary seat belt law (Florida does) also seems to determine safer roads.

Florida had 2,558 car accident-related deaths in 2009 and 13.8 deaths per 100,000 population, according to the IIHS data. It ranks only behind Texas (3,071) and California (3,081) in the number of highway deaths. Nationwide, there were 33,808 people killed on U.S. highways in 2009.

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging states to adopt the five “most wanted” measures to keep motorists safe. They include:

  1. Addressing extreme drunken driving
  2. Seat belt use
  3. Child-occupant protection
  4. Eliminate distractions for young drivers
  5. Motorcycle safety

Florida still does not have a requirement for adolescents to sit in booster seats to make adult seat belts more effective. And there is not a mandatory motorcycle helmet law in Florida or any laws regarding electronic messaging while driving, even though there are a host of bills introduced every year.

The Florida car crash lawyers at Farah & Farah advocate the use of child booster seats and laws that address or restrict the use of cell phones while driving. We’ve seen too many times when the state’s failure to enact laws has hurt some of our youngest drivers and passengers.