Driving at high speeds while surrounded by other vehicles is par for the course when you’re on a busy highway or interstate. And if you commute to Montgomery, Birmingham, or any other major city in Alabama, you undoubtedly experience frequent delays due to crashes. While we know that highways and interstates can be extremely dangerous, especially when sharing the road with distracted or negligent drivers, many people also believe that rural roads are less dangerous.
The truth is that although there’s less traffic and their speed limits are lower, rural roads are almost on par with urban streets and highways when it comes to total fatal crashes. There were 16,411 fatal crashes on rural roads in 2018, and 19,498 on urban roads. And when crashes occur on rural roads, the fatality rate is twice that of urban areas.
What makes rural roads just as, if not more dangerous than urban highways? Here are a few reasons that scenic drives should never be taken lightly.
A safe vehicle speed is relative to the road, traffic, and weather. Traveling 70 mph on a dry, wide-laned highway can be much safer than traveling 50 mph on a slick and winding rural road that has a posted speed limit of 35 mph. But because rural roads may have few, if any, other vehicles nearby, and because there’s less enforcement of speed limits, drivers may be more tempted to speed.
Speeding on rural roads can be extremely dangerous, as they’re not designed to accommodate high speeds. Driving too fast can make it easier for drivers to lose control of their vehicles while navigating turns, which can be dramatic and sudden on rural roads.
One of the most common reasons for vehicle occupants to not wear their seat belts is because they’re traveling a short distance or because they have a false sense of safety. Rural roads can bring out both reasons in many people.
Drivers may neglect to buckle up because their trips are short, or because they feel comfortable driving a certain stretch of the road knowing that they’re unlikely to encounter any other vehicles. But all it takes is one unbuckled trip for a serious crash to turn deadly.
Rollovers are among the deadliest type of car accidents, and they’re responsible for more single-vehicle crash deaths than any other type of accident. And while rollovers can happen on urban highways, they’re more likely to happen on less-trafficked rural and country roads.
The combination of speeding and tight turns can cause many drivers to lose control of their vehicles. If they drive into a ditch or onto an embankment, their vehicles can flip. In some cases, top-heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs can roll over just from taking a turn at an excessive speed.
Auto accident victims often need immediate treatment to prevent their injuries from worsening or to keep them alive. When crashes occur on urban highways, emergency responders are often immediately dispatched from nearby locations. And although they may need to fight traffic to reach victims, they can be at the scene in a matter of minutes.
But when crashes occur on rural roads, victims may be dozens of miles from the nearest hospital or ambulance station. And if they’re knocked unconscious or simply can’t call 911, it may be several minutes or hours until other drivers come across the crash scenes and call for help.
When you drive on a busy urban highway, the biggest threat you face is other drivers. But on rural roads—especially those with very little traffic— one of the biggest threats you face is wild animals, such as deer, raccoons, and turkey. Deer are particularly dangerous to drivers, especially at night or during times of limited visibility.
Large wild animals can jump into roadways directly in the path of vehicles, or they may be hidden around sharp blind turns. When drivers hit large animals like deer, their vehicles can become seriously damaged and they can suffer severe injuries. Collisions with deer cause around 200 deaths and more than $1 billion in property damage every year.
Although many rural accidents are caused by drivers speeding, some are caused by others’ negligence. Many rural crashes involve two or more vehicles, just like urban highway accidents. And some are caused by dangerous road conditions due to poor designs or lack of maintenance by road crews.
At Vance Law Firm, our Montgomery car accident lawyers investigate all auto accident claims the same way. We look for evidence that proves another party was at fault, and then we hold them accountable for our client’s damages. Let us help you get the money you’re owed. Contact us today for a free consultation.