This may come as a surprise to many but it appears that rural roads have more traffic fatalities than the nation’s highway system.
This information comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With about 23 % of the population living in rural areas, 56% of the nation’s 37,261 traffic deaths occurred on rural roads, according to NHTSA. That is almost six in 10.
The difference may be explained by the fact that while there are more crashes in urban areas, fewer of them result in fatalities.
Why do more crashes in the country lead to fatalities? One reason may be that drivers are traveling faster on rural roads. They are not as well-engineered as urban highways. And an emergency responder may take longer to get to you, decreasing the chances of survival. For example in Montana, the average response time is about 80 minutes.
37% of car accident fatalities in Florida occurred on rural roads or 1,113 fatalities, compared with 2,978 statewide in 2008.
And in Florida, like the rest of the nation, there are more rural deaths per 100 million miles traveled than on our big highways. Among the worst: Interstate 10 and 75; SR 40 and SR 19; SR 46; and SR 431.
Check out the cool satellite maps provided by Google.
This is not exactly new for Florida. A 2005 study by TRIP, the national nonprofit transportation research group, finds Florida’s rural roads were third in the nation in fatalities.
States are responding. South Carolina is retrofitting 1,600 miles with rumble strips, grooves or raised patterns to let a motorist know they are leaving the pavement. Other states, including Florida, are increasing drunken-driving units, especially around holiday time and trying to work on an increased response time to emergencies.