Rural Roads in America are Dangerous: Report

Is there such a thing as a fatal road? According to a recent report by a private nonprofit research organization, rural roads are three times more risky than any other type of road in the U.S.
Transportation research group TRIP released a report on the situational challenges in rural roads across the U.S. The numbers are staggering: cases of deaths due to rural roads reached thrice the number of those in other road types, even including highways. Figures in 2012 showed that “non-Interstate rural roads had a traffic fatality rate of 2.21 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel, compared to a fatality rate on all other roads of 0.78 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.” On top of this, out of the 33,561 fatalities in 2012 due to road-related incidents, 48 percent were logged to have happened in these rural roads.

Some of the reasons behind the high fatality rate and greater risk of danger in rural roads include the following:

  • Inadequacy in safety features along rural pathways
  • Poor response time of emergency units
  • Faster vehicle speeds on rural roads

Meanwhile, about 15 percent of main rural roads are considered to be in poor condition. States that have the poorest road conditions include:

  • Connecticut (35%),
  • Rhode Island (33%),
  • West Virginia (33%),
  • Hawaii (32%), and
  • Michigan (32%).

As for rural bridges and connections, 12 percent were deemed “structurally deficient” and 10 percent were “functionally obsolete” but are still in use.

As a conclusion to the report’s results, TRIP recommends improvements on the following areas:

  • Access and connectivity in rural communities
  • Rural traffic safety
  • Quality and condition of rural roads, bridges, and connections

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, pushed for a congressional act to increase budget for rural road repair.

“As this report makes clear, Washington's failure to adequately fund repairs to our aging network of roads and bridges is having an even worse impact on our rural roads than the rest of our transportation system. And while these rural roads may not be the ones most commuters use on a daily basis, they play a vital role in assuring the movement of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of agricultural, energy and manufacturing products every day,” Sandherr said in a news release. Learn more about ProEst and its construction bidding software and see all the ways to improve your estimating.