News & Resources
Recent Study Shows More Fatal Accidents on Rural Roads Than in Urban Areas
The Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety examined car accident fatalities on roads around the country and found that rural roads are more dangerous than urban roads. In North Carolina, only 30 percent of roadways are classified as interstates, making the vast majority of roads in this state rural.
A spokesman from AAA of the Carolinas was not surprised by the study results, noting, “Rural roads have always been the most dangerous roads in North Carolina. The reason is they are narrow, they are not as well lined, there are shoulder drop offs.” He pointed out differences with urban roads, saying, “Interstates, they have fewer accidents than any other roads because they are better designed. Their markings, their width, their sight distances are all better on an interstate.”
According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, there were over 116,000 car crashes in North Carolina in 2010. Of those, almost 900 resulted in fatalities and not quite half took place on rural roads.
While fewer in number, accidents that do happen on rural roads tend to be more serious and more likely to result in death. There are a number of reasons for this. Rural roads are often poorly lit and narrow, which, when traveled at high speeds, can prove tragic. Additionally, accidents on back roads often involve only a single car. With one-car accidents on rural roads, if the vehicle’s occupants are unable to call for assistance it could be hours before someone discovers the accident and calls for medical help.
Based on the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety’s study of the 50 states’ roadways, North Carolina ranked in the middle for percent of fatal accidents on rural roads. Wyoming and Mississippi topped the list, and the urban areas of Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. were found to have the safest roadways.
Source: Study: Rural roads more dangerous than urban roads