Statistics show that the number of fatal road accidents experienced on rural roads exceeds those experienced on urban roads. This is despite the fact that there are more cars on urban roads than rural roads. Here are some of the possible explanations for this disparity:
High Speed Limits
Rural roads tend to have higher speed limits than urban roads. While high speeds won't necessarily cause an accident, it will result in more serious injuries if an accident does occur. There is a difference between hitting another car at 75 mph and hitting it at 55 mph.
Few Law Enforcement Officers
Law enforcement officers help in curbing road accidents by drivers who break traffic rules, such as drunk drivers and those driving over the speed limits. In many cases, the mere knowledge that one is likely to encounter a traffic officer is enough to make drivers careful behind the wheel. Unfortunately, rural roads don't have as many officers as urban roads. Some rural jurisdictions have few officers because their budgets can't support big police departments, and reduced policing encourages lawbreakers.
Dangerous Road Configurations
Typical urban roads are flat, straight and exhibit grid-like patterns. This reduces the number of surprises on the road, even for drivers unfamiliar with the roads. Unfortunately, rural roads tend to be the opposite; they often wind, climb and fall over hills and valleys. Apart from that, urban roads tend to be better maintained (for example they have fewer potholes) than rural roads.
High DUI Levels
Available research shows that rural roads experience more drunk-driving fatalities than urban roads. A possible reason for this is the availability of alternative transport, such as taxicabs and subways, in urban areas. Intoxicated urban dwellers can, therefore, use such alternative transport to go home safely while their rural counterparts just have to drive. Some studies also show that rural DUI offenders use alcohol more heavily than their urban counterparts; which can mean more serious impairment.
Poor Seatbelt Use
Only 79% of rural drivers use seatbelts compared to 84% of urban drivers. This is despite the fact that using seatbelts is the most effective way of minimizing injuries in crashes. This, coupled with some of the facts above, is likely to increase the frequency of serious accidents on rural roads.
You need to be acquainted with the above facts you are heading for a drive on a rural road. Some of them (think drunk driving and use of seatbelts) are things you can control while others (such as dangerous road configuration) may be out of your league. However, being careful will always reduce your risk of an accident on any road. If you do get in an accident, remember that you may not be liable for it and shouldn't accept liability even if you feel responsible in a way. Talk to an accident attorney like those at Kaston & Aberle to help you preserve your legal rights.