Most car accident fatalities happen on rural roads, according to a study published in 2013 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fewer deaths occur in urban areas—though the gap between the two has narrowed since the beginning of the 2000s. This data runs contrary to what many drivers believe. It is easy to picture clogged urban highways and deduce that they are the source of most car accident deaths. The statistics say otherwise, though.
No matter where your car accident occurred, whether in an urban, rural, or suburban area, you may be eligible for a substantial monetary award. A car accident lawyer can help you pursue damages from the other driver as well as their insurance company. You may qualify for compensation to cover your medical bills and lost wages, along with noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering. If your loved one died in a crash, you may be entitled to wrongful death damages.
Where Most Car Accidents Happen
A car accident can happen anywhere, so motorists should always be vigilant behind the wheel and practice defensive driving habits. That said, if you assume that urban highways with lots of traffic are the most dangerous places to drive in America, the data says otherwise.
While rural roads produce more traffic fatalities than urban highways, the gap has narrowed substantially this century. In 2004, there were more than 25,000 deaths on rural roads, compared to roughly 17,500 in urban areas. (The best news indicated by this data is that both urban and rural traffic accident deaths dropped between 2004 and 2012).
Here are some other interesting observations from the study:
Fatality Rates Much Higher in Rural Areas
Though the raw numbers of car accident fatalities in rural and urban areas are narrowing, the gap in total deaths per mile driven remains substantial. In 2012, there were 1.88 fatalities per 100 million miles driven in rural areas, versus 0.73 on urban streets. In other words, for each mile you drive, you are about 2.5 times more likely to die on a rural road than an urban one.
The Data Varies Wildly by State
Although the national trend shows many more traffic accident fatalities in rural areas, that is not the trend for every state. Some report the vast majority of car accident deaths as occurring in urban areas. In Massachusetts, for instance, 85% of car accident deaths occurred on urban streets, while only 15% happened on rural roads and highways.
At the other end of the spectrum are states such as Maine, where a staggering 97% of traffic accident fatalities come from rural areas.
There is no definitive evidence to explain such a variation, but a logical theory is that much of the population in Massachusetts is concentrated in a dense urban area, Boston, where most of the driving in the state happens. In Maine, by contrast, there are fewer big cities and urban areas, so people spend more time driving in rural areas. The difference, then, is based not on one type of area being more dangerous than the other but where the most driving occurs state by state.
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What to Do After an Accident
No matter where you’re driving, the increase in distracted driving has made all roadways slightly less safe, according to a whitepaper from the National Safety Council. If you have been in an accident on any type of road or highway, you should take the following steps:
Get the Other Driver’s Information
You should get as much of the other driver’s information as you can. If possible, record their license plate number before you do anything else. The easiest way is to snap a quick picture of it with your phone. That way, if they try to take off, you and your attorney will be able to track them down.
Call the Police
Unless there are no injuries and little to no property damage, it is a good idea to call the police and have them come out and write up a report. A police report gives you an official account of what happened, so it is less your word against the other driver’s.
Call a Lawyer
Consider speaking with a lawyer about your legal options. When you try to take on the insurance company by yourself, you often end up leaving large amounts of money on the table. A lawyer can help you recover the full compensation you deserve.
Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC for a Free Consultation Today
If you have been involved in a car accident, attorney Ben Crump and his team want to help you get the compensation you deserve. We do not shy away from tough cases. We never collect a fee until you get paid. For a free, no-obligation case evaluation, call us today at 800-598-7557.