While Boston car accidents remain a significant threat to motorists, a new study suggests that drivers may actually be at increased risk of an accident while traveling in more rural areas of Massachusetts.
The USA Today reports that safety advocates are concerned that a false sense of security by rural drivers, combined with the lack of emphasis on rural driving safety, could be contributing to the safety risks.
The Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota reports that 57 percent of all highway deaths occur in rural areas, despite the fact that only 23 percent of the American population lives outside urban areas.
The center reports that 84 percent of study respondents feel safe on rural interstates, compared to 79 percent on rural highways and 69 percent on urban freeways. Safety advocates are concerned that those who feel safer are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior, including drunk driving and distracted driving.
“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.”
Only speeders reported feeling safer on large urban highways, by a factor of 47 percent to 33 percent.
Rural motorists are at significantly greater risk for being involved in a fatal singe-vehicle accident, usually as a result of the driver crashing into a tree, utility pole or other stationary object.
The study appears to reveal an overconfidence people feel in their own abilities and an underestimation of the risks. “The more people perceive they have control, the less they perceive a situation as being risky,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The study was funded by the Federal Highway Administration and could raise awareness about the need to focus on traffic safety in more rural areas.
“The transportation community has tended to underemphasize rural road safety,” Kissinger said. “There’s a long history of underinvestment in rural road safety in this country.”
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts car accident, contact Boston Injury Lawyer Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.