Rural fatalities more likely to involve trucks

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Fatalities are more likely on rural roads than urban roads, and rural fatalities are more likely to involve trucks, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study.

The agency recently issued “Contrasting Rural and Urban Fatal Crashes: 1994-2003,” an update of a 1996 report. Using Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, the researchers learned 42 percent more fatal crashes happen on rural roads than urban, despite an average of fewer vehicle miles traveled on country roads. Rural fatalities also have a greater likelihood of rollovers and multiple deaths.

In rural areas, large trucks were involved in 37 percent of fatal crashes, compared to only 30 percent in urban areas. Light trucks, meanwhile, were involved in 10 percent of fatal crashes in rural areas, compared to only 6 percent in urban areas.

Other findings:

  • Head-on crashes are more likely in rural areas.
  • Rural roads posted 55 mph and urban streets posted 35 mph have more fatal crashes than roads with any other speed limit. In fact, rural roads posted 55 mph account for half of all crash fatalities.
  • Maine had the highest percent of rural crashes at 94 percent, followed by Idaho at nearly 84 percent and Kentucky at more than 77 percent. Massachusetts had the least with 20 percent, followed by Connecticut at almost 21 percent and Hawaii at almost 36 percent.