Are Roads Safer In Urban Areas?

What makes a road safe?  The answer to this question depends upon whom you ask.  For example, a new study this week put out by USA Today asserts,” Roads are safer in urban areas.”

But how could this be?  First of all, you might look to a body of independent studies published over the past several years on accident statistics, including the ones paid for by insurance companies.

These studies take into account numerous factors in order to determine the danger of accident related injuries and the larger scale of fatalities occurring in both heavily populated areas as well as low traffic communities.

Some of the information collected by researchers takes into account things like speed limits, new technology, and first responder times.  In addition, the particular reason(s) behind an accident is especially important.

When evaluating the future implications of statistics, it is also common for people to draw their own set of conclusions.  This happens frequently when conflicting reports are given resulting in various explanations for a phenomenon.

Fundamentally, one could argue that if a wreck was determined to be caused by a deer, the likelihood of the incident happening in a more rural setting would likely increase.

In the same vein, if a collision happened on a larger freeway, perhaps access to a good hospital may make a difference for victims in a big city verses a those found in a much smaller town with less available resources.

Yet even still, the overall numbers seem to point to a higher death rate on rural roads.  What are the reasons?

One reason NOT attributed to the superior threat for those of you braving the less traveled American roadways–the law!  In fact, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association attributes the disparity between the data to the state legislators.

The group quoted in USA Today makes it clear that a significant factor is “whether states have enacted proven safety enhancements such as motorcycle helmet laws and primary seat belt laws, which allow police to stop motorists solely for being unbuckled.”

Taking all this into account, personal experience as a personal injury litigator tells me that the number of accidents resulting in either personal injury or death in the great state of California remains unnecessarily high.  On the national level, there are also more than 6 million automobile accidents in the country and the numbers are climbing.

Other sources indicate that California tops the list of riskiest places to drive in the United States and more accidents are occurring in Los Angeles, San Francisco and in some of the most populous counties and cities in California, which contributed, significantly to the states’ number of fatalities.

So what is the correct answer?  Are you convinced we are really safer in the city?

While lobbying lawmakers to make stricter automobile safety laws is an important issue, so is enforcing the laws that California already has on the books.  Both will make our populous state safer for our friends and families.

What are your thoughts?