Rural Driving More Dangerous, Less Concerning for Drivers

Aug 11, 2010

Any business that operates a fleet is concerned about their drivers’ safety.  With those drivers’ routes taking them through both urban and rural areas, it is important to know the safety risks associated with each environment. USA Today reported on a survey that found drivers may not be as well educated as they should be:

Drivers feel safer on rural highways and are more likely to drink or engage in distracted driving on these roads, even though rural roads are the most dangerous in the USA, a new survey finds.

Though 23% of Americans live in rural areas, 57% of highway deaths occur on roads considered rural, according to the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota. The center found that 84% of respondents feel "safe" on rural interstates and 79% on rural two-lane highways, compared with 69% on multilane freeways in urban areas.

"People seem to feel more comfortable on those roads, even though the facts show that it's more dangerous," says Lee Munnich, director of the center. "They feel more relaxed and, as a result, they are engaging in behavior that is riskier," such as eating or using phones while driving.

Traffic deaths on rural roads frequently involve single-vehicle wrecks in which drivers crash into trees, utility poles or other stationary objects. The survey appears to reflect drivers' overconfidence in their ability to avoid problems and a fallacy in the way people perceive risk, says Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "The more people perceive they have control, the less they perceive a situation as being risky."

You can read the full results of the study here.

(Tags: Rural, Urban, Driving, Fleet Safety, Drivers)

Photo courtesy of ladytaz and re-used under the Creative Commons license.