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Is it safer to drive on city roads or rural ones?

You might feel safer once you escape the city traffic for the quieter rural roads, but statistics show you are not.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that “Although 20% of people in the U.S. live in rural areas (U.S. Census Bureau, 2023) and 32% of the vehicle miles traveled occur in rural areas (Federal Highway Administration, 2024), 41% of crash deaths occur there.”

So, per mile driven, you are more likely to have a fatal crash away from the city than in it. What could explain this?

Increased speed

The rate of speeding as a factor in crash deaths is roughly equal – 28% in rural incidents and 29% in city ones. Yet the person speeding on a rural road is likely going a lot faster than someone doing so in the city because the base speed limits are usually higher on rural roads. Crashing at 52 mph will result in a more forceful impact than crashing at 32 mph.

Longer wait for help

If you crash in the city you can expect an ambulance to turn up within minutes. A rural crash may involve a much longer wait for the initial ambulance to arrive and a longer journey to the hospital. Those few extra minutes might mean the difference between life and death for someone who is lying bleeding in a crashed car. 

Whether a crash occurs on a city road or a rural one, it’s likely to be costly, even if it does not cost someone their life. Learning how to claim compensation for the loss of a loved one or for the injuries you survive a crash with is wise.



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