6 Reasons to Exercise Caution on Rural Roads During Summer Road Trips

What does a summer road trip evoke in your mind? Freedom, adventure, and the open road, perhaps? While hitting the road and exploring the countryside can be an exciting experience, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks, especially when driving on rural roads. A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) sheds light on the alarming statistics surrounding rural road crashes. Let’s delve into six reasons why exercising caution on rural roads during your summer road trips is of utmost importance.

  1. Disproportionate Fatality Rates: Rural roads may exude beauty, but they also hide a grim secret: nearly half of all fatal crashes occur on these seemingly serene routes. Despite only 19% of the U.S. population residing in rural areas, the GHSA report reveals that between 2016 and 2020, a staggering 85,002 individuals lost their lives in crashes on rural roads. This equates to 45% of overall fatal crashes. These statistics underscore the need to approach rural roads with caution and vigilance.
  2. Risky Driving Behaviors: Various risky driving behaviors contribute to the high fatality rates on rural roads. Failure to wear seat belts, impaired driving, speeding, and distractions behind the wheel are among the primary culprits. The open road itself offers a sense of false security, and many crashes occur because drivers are speeding, or overlooking important traffic directions. It is essential to remain alert, avoid distractions, and adhere to traffic laws to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
  3. Vulnerable Demographics: While everyone faces risks on rural roads, certain demographics are particularly vulnerable. The GHSA study found that men are involved in a significantly higher number of crashes compared to women, with 59,793 men dying in rural road crashes between 2016 and 2020, compared to 25,151 women. Furthermore, young drivers between the ages of 14 and 25 face higher crash and fatality rates on rural roads, emphasizing the importance of caution and responsible driving for this age group. Because these statistics cover a range of individuals, everyone must remain vigilant in driving safely.
  4. Seat Belt Usage and Speeding: A lack of seat belt use remains a concerning factor on rural roads. During the analyzed period, more than half (58%) of U.S. motor vehicle occupants killed in rural road crashes were unrestrained. Additionally, speeding plays a significant role in rural road fatalities, with 46% of speeding-related deaths occurring on these roads. Buckling up and adhering to speed limits are simple yet effective ways to reduce the risk of accidents and their potential consequences.
  5. Alcohol, Drugs, and Distraction: Alcohol and drug use continue to be significant factors in rural road fatalities. The GHSA report reveals that 43% of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities occurred on rural roads in 2020, and drug-impaired driving claimed the lives of 2,644 people on rural roads that year. Distraction is also a prevalent issue, with 46% of all distraction-related fatalities occurring on rural roads. Avoiding alcohol and drugs, as well as minimizing distractions, are critical for maintaining focus and ensuring safe travels.
  6. Need for Enhanced Safety Measures: Reduced infrastructure in rural areas can have devestating consequences. Faded street paint, missing stop signs, and broken street lights all contribute to the skewed statistics. The GHSA report offers nearly three dozen recommendations for State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and their partners to make rural roads safer. These recommendations include enhancing safety resources, improving roadway infrastructure, and promoting safe driving behaviors through public awareness campaigns and educational programs.

As you embark on your summer road trip, remember the importance of exercising caution on rural roads. By adopting responsible driving habits, prioritizing safety, and advocating for enhanced safety measures, we can make a difference and contribute to safer roadways for all. At OnderLaw, we value safe driving. If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.