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Fatal Car Crashes in Rural Missouri

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While fewer people live in rural Missouri compared to the state’s major metropolitan areas, they likely have a greater chance of being victims of a deadly car crash than their big-city counterparts.

Fatal motor vehicle accidents, regardless of location, have increased in recent years.  The federal government in August estimated that the number of people killed in car and truck crashes for the first quarter of this year rose 7% compared to the first three months of 2021. That number projects to be the highest number of traffic fatalities in any first quarter in the last 20 years.

In July of this year the same federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report on fatal crashes on rural roads (“Rural/Urban Comparison of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities”). The report covered 2020, the most recent year with finalized reporting on fatal traffic accidents.

One key finding in the report: 31% of the nation’s total vehicle miles traveled in 2020 was on rural roads yet 43% of all motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in rural areas.

It also determined that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was almost twice as high for rural areas as urban settings.

Common Causes of Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents on Rural Roads

According to NHTSA’s report, two top factors for fatal car crashes in rural areas are:

·         Speeding – 28% of all rural driving deaths occurred in speed-related crashes

·         Alcohol use – 30% of all rural driving deaths occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes

The report states that deaths in rural drunk-driving crashes increased 9% from 2019 to 2020.

A new report, released in September, further amplifies the dangers of rural road crashes.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on September 1 published a report titled “America’s Roads: Beautiful and Deadly.” GHSA is a nonprofit organization of safety officials from across the country. The report reviewed deadly traffic accidents between 2016 and 2020.

Over 85,000 people died in rural crashes during that time. The report concludes that the chances of dying in a rural road crash are 62% higher compared to an urban road for the same length of trip.

Deadly Distracted Driving Crashes in Rural Areas

The GHSA report cites risky driving behavior as one leading cause for fatal traffic crashes in rural areas.  Similar to NHTSA’s report, the GHSA report found these risky driving behaviors include:

·         Speeding

·         Alcohol and drug use

·         Distracted driving

GHSA says that speeding was a factor in 27% of the deaths in rural car crashes.  Almost half of all U.S. deaths in speeding accidents occurred in rural areas.

More than four of every ten deaths in crashes involving drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs happened in rural areas between 2016 and 2020. The number of people killed in rural drunk-driving or drugged-driving crashes increased 5% in 2020 over 2019.

To help prevent fatal drunk-driving crashes in rural areas, GHSA recommends holding responsible the bars and hosts that over-serve drivers.

Those who are seriously injured or the families of victims who die in car crashes caused by careless drivers deserve justice, whether they live in urban areas or in the country. If you were hurt or if you lost a loved one in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham.  Posted in Blog September 19 2022.