Car Accident Deaths in Rural Areas Continue to Climb, According to New Report

September 7, 2022

Car Accident Deaths in Rural Areas Continue to Climb, According to New Report

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a 73-page report that shows a disproportionate rate of traffic fatalities on rural roads. The report titled, America’s Rural Roads: Beautiful and Deadly, highlighted some shocking statistics. Continue reading to find out what they are and how you can stay safe while traveling through scenic Pennsylvania. 

What the Study Found

Based on the recent study, researchers learned that nearly half – 48% – of all traffic deaths from 2016-2020 occurred on rural roads, despite only 19% of victims having lived in those rural areas. But what is causing this dramatic uptick? 

While experts attribute the same causes of motor vehicle accidents in urban areas to rural areas (i.e. speeding, lack of seatbelt use, and distractions), experts claim that the open roads and limited law enforcement enable drivers to act more recklessly. Furthermore, those in rural areas are usually traveling for long periods of time and may suffer from fatigue or get lost. Even worse, when an accident does occur, emergency response may take longer to reach the scene as opposed to accidents that occur in dense, urban areas. 

Statistics Every Driver Should Know

The study, which looked at the rate and cause of traffic fatalities across a five-year period found the following statistics: 

  • 61.4% of traffic deaths in rural areas involved trucks, as compared to 38.6% of accidents in urban areas
  • When comparing rural and urban areas, drivers/passengers of trucks, vans, and cars in rural areas had a higher mortality rate (68,709) than those traveling in urban areas (56,998). However, there were higher rates of traffic deaths for motorcyclists (15,390), bicyclists (3,375), and pedestrians (25,551) in urban areas than in rural areas. 
  • Young drivers between the ages of 20-24 were more likely to be involved in deadly motor vehicle crashes in rural areas (10.4%), compared to those driving in urban areas (5%).
  • More drivers in rural car accidents died due to lack of seat belt use (32,567) as compared to those in urban areas (23,438)

A big statistic has to do with the types of accidents that occurred. The study found that 34,743 accidents in rural areas involved the driver veering off the roadway, with head-on crashes accounting for 12,339 accidents, and sideswipe accidents accounting for 5,589 accidents. 

What’s Being Done About it? 

Researchers of the study agreed that ”…a holistic approach is needed to address the rural road safety problem — one that includes both behavioral and infrastructure safety.” They argued that local state safety offices need to partner with law enforcement agencies, educators, engineers, and other advocates to come together and do something about this growing problem. 

In regards to Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said they are already employing thousands of safety measures in rural areas throughout the state through education and engineering means. 

These measures include shoulder widening, pavement marketings, rumble strips, curve warning signs, and high tension cable median barriers. A study by Penn State found that some of these measures, so far, have been effective, lowering the rate of accidents on curved roads from 35% to 25%. 

How You Can Stay Safe

While you may not always be able to anticipate when an accident is going to happen, you can take proactive steps to make sure you and your loved ones are safe while traveling through rural Pennsylvania. 

Always wear your seatbelt, and refrain from any distractions whether it’s using your phone or trying to mess around with your GPS. If you’ve been traveling for a few hours, pull off somewhere safe to take a break and stretch your legs so you’re not sitting for long periods of time. Furthermore, make sure you plan your route ahead of time so you know if there are going to be any detours or road closures, and pack an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, and flares if you need help. 

Contact A Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer To Discuss Your Car Accident Case In Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 766-1455 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Home visits can be arranged in certain situations. 

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.