Rural roads riskier than urban street for Carolina drivers

As hard as it is for our Carolina injury attorneys to believe, densely-populated and highly-trafficked Washington D.C. is among the nation’s safest places to drive while rural and rugged Montana is among the most deadly. In short, urban roads are safer than rural routes.

How is this possible? USA Today reports that urban roads come with urban amenities – lower speed limits, city-centric traffic safety engineering, and proximate access to emergency medical assistance.
Rural roads, on the other hand, while less trafficked, come with higher speed limits and fewer (if any) divided roadways. Thus, crashes along rural roadways tend to be more violent upon impact, causing greater injury. And because rural areas are further from first responders, help takes longer to arrive. The longer the wait, the higher the risk that an injury crash will result in fatalities.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2008 there were 119,771 urban-related North Carolina car accidents – 394 of them fatal and 62,507 with injuries. At the same time, North Carolina rural roads saw 94,455 crashes that claimed 1,054 lives and left 49,841 injured. So, while there were more crashes overall on urban roads, there were significantly more fatal crashes on rural routes in 2008.

South Carolina crash statistics trended the same. In 2008, there were 96 fatal car accidents along South Carolina interstate systems that claimed 108 lives. With that said, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that about 40 percent of all fatal South Carolina car accidents – or 366 fatalities – happened on state secondary roads.

Across the nation, the number of fatal car accidents each year – whether on rural or urban roads – continues to drop. There were 20,987 fatal car accidents along rural roads in 2008 and 19,259 in 2009 representing an 8.2 percent drop in overall rural-road fatalities nationwide. Urban road fatalities also saw a significant decline of 12 percent between 2008 (16,218 traffic fatalities) and 2009 (14,341 car crash deaths).

Both North and South Carolina motorists saw a decline in fatal Carolina car accidents between 2008 and 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. In South Carolina, total traffic-related fatalities fell from 921 to 894, registering a nearly 3 percent drop in fatal car accident deaths. In North Carolina, the drop was more significant – from 1,428 traffic-crash linked fatalities in 2008 to 1,314 deaths in 2009.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that states enact legislation supporting the following key actions to help reduce the chance of serious or fatal traffic accidents:

~ Improve child car seat and booster seat protections.

~ Enact primary seatbelt enforcement laws.

~ Pass legislation targeting young drivers and restricts passenger load and use of wireless communication devices. Require novice driver to participate in a graduated driver licensing program.

~ Beef up “hard core” drinking and driving initiatives, such as: increased statewide sobriety checkpoints and stricter, more prohibitive, drunk driving laws.

~ Require that all motorcyclists – passengers or drivers – wear a helmet.

In an effort to address traffic safety concerns the Governors Highway Safety Association reports that both North Carolina and South Carolina have enacted (to some degree) many of the NTSB “most wanted” recommendations, including:

~ Primary seat belt enforcement laws and universal helmet laws for motorcycles.

~ GDL programs that restrict driving time and passenger load.

~ Enacting DUI laws that include higher penalties for higher BAC, repeat offender laws and laws that require repeat offenders to install ignition interlock devices.

The Asheville injury lawyers with Lee & Smith know that being involved in a serious or fatal car accident, or losing a loved one to a fatal car crash, can be among the most trying times in your life. We hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident from Spartanburg to Winston-Salem or anywhere else across the Carolinas, you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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