Where Do Most Accidents in Alabama Occur – Interstates or Rural Roadways?
According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the fatality rate for crashes that occur on rural roads is twice that of fatalities on the interstate. The number consistently remains between 55 and 60 percent nationwide. This is despite the fact that only 23 percent of the population lives in what would be considered a rural area. In its most recent report, the FHWA ranked Alabama at 18th for states with the most fatal crashes in rural areas.
Accident Statistics Specific to Alabama
Sadly, according to the University of Alabama, traffic deaths for the entire state increased by 24.6 percent from 2015 to 2016. Two years ago, 849 Alabamians lost their lives in traffic accidents while 1,058 died on state roads last year. Officials blame lack of seatbelt use, distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and pedestrian fault as the primary causes.
Although more densely populated, Baldwin, Clay, Houston, Jefferson, and Shelby counties in Alabama have the lowest rates of traffic fatalities. The online newspaper, AL.com, reports a consistent rate of one to two traffic deaths per 10,000 residents in each of these counties. By contrast, counties located in more rural areas, including Conecuh, Greene, Lowndes, Macon, and Wilcox, have higher fatality rates. These counties, all located within the Black Belt, typically report traffic fatalities ranging from seven to nine people per 10,000 residents per year.
What Makes Rural Roads More Dangerous?
Many people would assume that driving on the interstate is riskier due to the amount of traffic, high speeds, and constantly merging vehicles. Despite these factors, interstates are also well-lit and a person who gets into an accident can summon help within a matter of minutes. Many rural roads have no lighting at all, leaving people to drive in total darkness after sundown other than the illumination from their headlights. Additionally, it can take much longer for an ambulance to reach an accident victim as emergency help is not likely to be close by.
Some other factors that account for the two-fold increase of car accidents on rural roads include:
- Collisions with wildlife: Deer and other larger types of wildlife tend to congregate more in rural areas and the roads there are closer to where they live. There’s also the possibility of farm animals escaping and trying to make their way across a rural road. The larger and heavier the animal, the greater the likelihood of serious injury or death in a collision.
- A false sense of security: People tend to assume they are safer driving in the country because of decreased traffic. This can cause them to make unwise decisions, such as speeding and driving down the center of a lane. They might also assume these areas have a lower police presence so they can get away with their illegal actions. Drinking and driving tends to be more of a problem in rural areas, as does not wearing a seatbelt.
- Limited space: Most rural roads are only two lanes and have one lane going in each direction. This makes it unsafe for drivers to pass other cars, but many attempt to do it anyway. Rural roads are also narrower than roads on the interstate. The lack of passing lanes and narrower roads both increase the chance of a head-on collision.
It’s always important to remain focused while driving, but this is even more true when driving on a rural road. Drivers should drive defensively and continually scan their environment in this setting. Unfortunately, too many let that false sense of security kick in and fail to pay attention. If you have recently been the victim of someone else’s negligence on an Alabama road, whether rural or interstate, the Law Office of J. Allan Brown is here to help.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?
If you have sustained injuries that have caused you to rack up medical expenses, miss time from work, and experience a decrease in your quality of life, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. The Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC offers free legal consultations to accident victims in Mobile, Alabama and all surrounding communities. We are happy to meet at the time and location most convenient for you. Contact the experienced Alabama accident injury lawyers at the Law Office of J. Allan Brown, LLC at (251) 473-6691 or through our online contact form.