AAA Carolinas reports that you're most likely to die in a car accident in North Carolina on one of our rural roads than on an urban road, according to WSAV. The top five counties with the most occurrences of deadly accidents only accounted for about three percent of the entire state's vehicle miles traveled.
Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that motorists may be more at risk for a fatal car accident on a rural road because these roads typically have lower shoulders, have narrower lanes and have faded (if any) road markings. These roads also have more curves in them and have less police patrols than highways. Speed is also often a factor.
"Motorists can do their part by slowing down, paying close attention, never drinking and driving, and always wearing their seat belts, which is their best defense if they're in a crash," said Transportation Secretary Robert J. St. Onge, Jr.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 37,250 fatal accidents that took the lives of more than 41,000 people in 2007. Accidents that occurred in rural areas made up 56 percent of these fatal accidents while urban areas only accounted for 44 percent of fatal accidents. The number of accidents in rural areas is surprising considering that only 23 percent of the U.S. population lives in these areas.
North Carolina witnessed nearly 1,500 fatalities on rural roadways in 2007. These accidents accounted for 73 percent of all traffic accident deaths for the year. Our state's urban areas witnessed 442 traffic fatalities, accounting for only 26 percent of the year's traffic accident deaths.
Here are some of the reasons why fatal rural accidents are so common:
Roughly 52 percent of fatal traffic accidents that happened in our rural areas happened during the daytime hours, while only 47 percent of fatal accidents happened at night. On the flip side, only 43 percent of fatal crashes that happened in urban areas happened during the evening. About 56 percent happened during the daytime.
Another important factor contributing to the high number of fatal accidents in rural areas is the amount of time is takes for emergency responders to arrive on scene. It typically takes emergency personnel longer to get to an accident in a rural area than in an urban area. Response times average 19 minutes in rural areas to 7 minutes in urban areas.
It is important for emergency responders to quickly respond to accident calls. Rural areas provide a number of environmental challenges that contribute to high fatality rates. The longer it takes for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene of an accident, the more like it is that the victim of the accident cannot be saved and will die in route to the hospital.