Urban or Rural Driving: Which is Safer?

Sacramento residents adore their city dwellings. The opportunities are endless, the weather is wonderful and the sky is the limit. The diverse population, limitless dining and entertainment venues and convenience are like icing on the cake.

There is an added advantage that surprises even the most die-hard city dweller; accident rates are lower in the city than in rural areas. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data showing the higher rate of accidents in the country are due to the lack of urban development projects which have safety designs built in. 

This is a fairly broad generalization, however, considering that some cities are considerably smaller than others. This complicates the data quite a bit. Another example is safety rating. Some cities are considered safer than others based on crime reports and analytics. The study also noted that high risk populations, like teenagers, are safer in cities.

Washington D.C. and Massachusetts are among the safest places to drive while Montana, Wyoming, Louisiana and Mississippi are among the least safe.  Can where you live really increase your chances of dying in a car crash? Statistics say yes and the reason is the road conditions. Experts say rural roads are far less safe than urban roads. This is true even in states that have a low overall death rate. Rural roads have seen rates twice as high as urban roads.

“I find that hard to believe.” says Dwayne Miller, Tennessee resident and antique car enthusiast. “I drive all over the state and more often than not the roads are clear and wide open. How can you crash in that kind of situation?”

Rural drivers enjoy the curving, empty roads but are they actually the problem? Many fatal rural accidents occur when the vehicle leaves the road and hits trees, animals and other structures. Another situation on rural roadways is leaving the road and driving off a cliff or hitting an embankment. These happen with far less frequency in an urban environment.

Rural roadways are not privy to safety design implements as often as urban roads are. Divided highways, fast emergency access and other safety engineering features are always used in urban road construction. 

Groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Governors Highway Safety Association do not think the data holds much stock. They claim the data does not show a fair comparison.  Russ Rader, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is on record saying, "An urban state in the Northeast is going to have a much lower fatality rate than a rural Western state with a lot of high-speed, two-lane rural roads, where serious crashes are more likely to happen," 

While we may not know for sure which living area is safest for drivers, we do know that safe driving campaigns and driver awareness programs should be distributed in both urban and rural areas to help spread the word as far as possible. Road safety can be complicated but it is imperative no matter where you live. 

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