Rural and urban areas: Differences in deadly crashes

It used to be that rural areas, despite all of the open roads and relatively light traffic, saw more fatalities every year than urban areas. It was not even very close. In 1977, for example, about 60 percent of fatal crashes took place on rural roads, with the remaining 40 percent happening on city streets.

Over the decades, the trends have changed. By 1986, around 57 percent of these deadly wrecks were in rural areas. In 1998, it jumped back up to 61 percent, which held for a few years. Then it started dropping again, falling to 56 percent in 2006. A decade later, in 2016, just 51 percent of deadly wrecks happened on rural roads, and it had been that way since then.

While that makes things almost the same, rural roads still see more crashes. Even though 2 percent does not sound like much, it is a difference of hundreds of lives. In 2016, for instance, there were 17,656 deaths on urban roads. There were 18,590 deaths on rural roads. That’s almost 1,000 more on rural roads (934, specifically) even though the statistics are as close as they have ever been.

Why does this happen? Perhaps the biggest reason is speed. Fatalities are more common at higher speeds. City streets often keep cars at 25 miles per hour, while country roads allow them to travel at 55 miles per hour. Even with fewer cars on the road, the accidents turn fatal far more often.

Have you been involved in a serious car accident? If so, make sure you know your legal options to seek compensation from the at-fault driver.