Study Shows Rural Roads in the South Are Some of the Most Dangerous

December 17, 2004 – Posted at 5:25 p.m. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY – In a report conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, the southeastern part of the United States had nearly a quarter of vehicular deaths between 1996 and 2000. Researchers cite hazards such as trees close to the roads and unpaved shoulders.

"Rural roads are slightly different than your highways or city streets. A lot of times they are not marked as well, growth around the road way can obscure some of the markings," said Arkansas State Police Captain Mike Coy, "Most of the people who travel these consider it pretty familiar. A lot of times they may not be as careful as they are if they are on a strange road and be watching as much."

These days, roads are designed to have a thirty-foot run off area, but older roads may not have that comfort zone.

"It's a proven fact if vehicles have sufficient room to recover after they've made a mistake and ran off the road there is a good survivability rate for those," said Joe Barnett, District Engineer of the Arkansas Highway Department.

Being careful when you're on a rural road can pay off. Having an accident where no help is available can be dangerous.

"If there is a mistake that's made and there is a crash and it's in one of these areas, it can be more serious," said Barnett.

The study included data from more than 55,000 crashes in eight states.