Reasons for the higher numbers include safety issues on rural roads, low rates of seat belt use among rural people, a high percentage of deaths caused by drunk drivers, and a high number of fatal accidents involving speed, writes Daniel C. Vock for Stateline.
American Automobile Association safety chief Jacob Nelson told Vock that people drive faster in rural areas, crashes are more deadly. there are fewer people to call for help after an accident, and help is likely to be farther away."The hospitals are also often farther away and may not have the capacity to handle severe traumas," Nelson said. "All of that makes it less likely that crash victims will get the medical care they need as crucial minutes tick by. Drivers in rural areas also tend to be older and they are more likely to have been drinking, adds Nelson. Finally, fewer police officers spread out across rural areas are less likely to catch drivers for driving drunk, speeding or not wearing a seat belt."
The Transportation Department report says 96 percent of traffic deaths in Maine (the most rural state in population) and 94 percent in Montana happened in rural areas. Numbers were also high in South Dakota (91%), North Dakota (89%), Wyoming (86%), Nebraska (84%), Kansas (80%), Mississippi (79%), Arkansas (79%), Idaho (79%), Iowa (78%), Vermont (76%), South Carolina (76%), New Mexico (76%), Kentucky (73%) and West Virginia (72%).