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Rural Roads the Deadliest in Latest Road Fatality Data

Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2019 at 5:36 am    

Texas is not the deadliest state in the country for traffic accidents. That dubious distinction goes to Mississippi with 23.1 fatalities per 100,000 residents, according to the latest crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the state’s fatality rate has gone up, mirroring an overall 13% rise in fatalities nationwide over the last five years. There were 3,218 traffic related fatalities in Texas in 2017, the latest year available for analysis.

In fact, Texas doesn’t even figure in the top 10 states for traffic fatalities. These are Mississippi (at 23.1 / 100,000 residents as noted above), Wyoming, South Carolina, Alabama, New Mexico, Montana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arkansas, with the latter’s fatality rate standing at 16.4 / 100,000 residents.

Rural roads the deadliest

There is some evidence that one reason these states are particularly dangerous is that many of their roads are rural. Despite the fact that far fewer vehicles use rural roads there are several reasons why they seem to be more accident prone.

These are summarized as being due to:

  • faster average speeds;
  • rougher road surfaces;
  • more potential obstacles;
  • poorer lighting;
  • less effective law enforcement.

Drivers inevitably drive faster when speed limits are higher. Most rural and country roads have higher speed limits, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are any safer than many city roads where speed limits are often less than 50 mph. In fact, many rural roads are narrower than urban or suburban roads, often just one lane.

There are more pot holes and other rough surfaces on rural roads compared to city roads that get more regular maintenance. Rough road surfaces are not an excuse for accidents but may contribute to making some accidents just that more potentially deadly.

While there are more pedestrians in cities, they generally understand the dangers of crossing roads and have crosswalks and other places that are designed for them to safely cross. Rural and country roads have a lot more wildlife and domestic animals that may or may not be fenced in. Wild and domestic animals can cause more potential accidents because their presence and actions are much more unpredictable than human pedestrians. Cows and deer don’t know how to use crosswalks, even if there were any for them!

Lighting is either poorer or non-existent on many rural roads, making night time driving on rural roads particularly dangerous compared to night time city driving.

Police departments are stretched thin over what can be huge rural areas to patrol, making drivers less cautious about breaking traffic rules and taking risks when it comes to driving dangerously.

Texas still has a speeding and drink driving problem

Although distracted driving has been much in the news over the last few years with the rise of cell phone and mobile device use, in fact the two most common causes of Texas traffic fatalities are speeding and drink driving. The NHTSA data between 2012 and 2017 shows an overall increase of 10% in fatalities across the state, with speeding the most common cause at 27.1%, DUI at 23.4%, drug taking at 10.4% and distracted driving at 9.9%.

Speeding also remains the nation’s most common cause of traffic fatalities with 9,717deaths due to speeding in 2017. The NHTSA data shows that a quarter of all U.S. traffic accidents are due to speeding.

No excuse for majority of traffic accidents wherever they occur

Whether you drive on mainly rural roads or city roads there is no excuse for being injured by a speeding driver. In fact, the vast majority of traffic accidents are avoidable. No-one has to drive too fast for the conditions, drink before driving, take drugs, fail to yield the right of way at an intersection, run a red light, or answer their cell phone or text a message while driving.

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault in or around McAllen, you will need the help of an experienced car accident attorney.  You can rely on the Patino Law Firm in McAllen for expert legal help. Call the Patino Law Firm to arrange an appointment at 956-631-3535.