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Chris and James Welsh of Welsh & Welsh
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Preventing Car Accidents in Omaha’s Rural Areas

Published on Dec 18, 2018 at 8:36 am in Car Accidents.

Rural driving is completely different than driving in an urban area. Traffic is significantly quieter, there are fewer traffic lights and signs to stop at, and traveling can be considerably less stressful. Even with those benefits, there are dangers associated with driving on rural roads.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the majority of highway fatalities take place on rural roads. While only 19 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, nearly 54 percent of crash fatalities occur on these roads. It’s important to understand how to avoid accidents in these areas by recognizing why the numbers are so high. Let’s take a look at the rural accident information for Nebraska.

Nebraska’s Rural Crash Data

Nebraska’s Department of Transportation released an annual report in 2017 that discussed traffic crashes in detail. Part of that report discussed the number of accidents that occurred on rural roads and the results of those crashes. The reported data said:

  • There were a total of 8,757 accidents on rural Nebraska roads
  • 5,645 of those crashes resulted in only property damage
  • 2,976 resulted in injury where 4,339 vehicle occupants sustained injuries
  • 147 occupants were killed in 136 fatal wrecks

Many rural fatalities are a result of roadway departure. This includes crashes where vehicles run off the road and collide with fixed objects like treats, guardrails, or poles, or where vehicles overturn. It also includes crashes where vehicles leave the portion of the road designed for them to drive on.

Dangers Unique to Rural Roads

While roadway departures also happen on urban roadways, there are a number of unique dangers and risks associated with traveling in rural areas.

  • Varying Surfaces. While most highways are well-maintained, many rural roads do not receive the same treatment or repairs. Potholes, uneven lanes, and unpaved roads can cause accidents for even the most diligent drivers. Rural roads are often the last to receive treatment in the winter for snow and ice, which means they can quickly become wet and slippery.
  • Rogue Drivers. Because rural areas aren’t highly populated, it’s likely there will be less traffic. As a result, some drivers feel as though this gives them the ability to disregard traffic laws. They may drive in the middle of the road, speed, or tailgate other vehicles.
  • Poor Cell Reception. Unfortunately, there are a number of rural areas that do not have cell reception. In the event of a flat tire, breakdown, or accident, it can take a considerable amount of time to get the help you need. This can be especially dangerous in the event of an accident where medical attention is needed.
  • Unique Obstructions. While traffic in urban areas can quickly become heavy around rush hour, it’s not likely you’ll have to compete with the possibility of livestock, farm equipment and vehicles, buggies, fallen trees, and other animals. When driving through the countryside, it’s important to remain actively aware of your surroundings.
  • Difficult Access. Rural roads can be narrow and winding. In the event of an accident, it may be difficult for emergency responders to find you. If your car ended up somewhere not visible from the road, it could be a long time until help arrives.

Ways to Prevent Rural Vehicle Wrecks in Omaha

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration has a number of programs and initiatives in place in an attempt to improve safety, promote awareness, reduce crashes, and provide education. Below are there most popular initiatives. Keep this information in mind while traveling on local, country roads.

  • Intersection Safety. Rural intersections are not always equipped with the proper signage to let drivers know how to safely proceed. As a result, accidents frequently occur. Be aware of dangerous intersections so you can get to where you’re going without incident.
  • Speed Management Safety. While speeding is always dangerous, the risks are heightened while on back roads because of the varying road surfaces and curves. A driver can quickly lose control of their vehicle if they’re driving too fast around a bend.
  • Nighttime Visibility. While driving at night comes with its own risks, driving on rural roads at night can be dangerous for a number of reasons. If you’re unfamiliar with the area and aren’t paying as close attention as you should be, you could drive off the road. Animals are also more likely to come out at night, which is when they’re hardest to see.

Rural roads give us certain freedoms we don’t have while driving through cities or while on the highway; however, it’s important to remember how to use those freedoms responsibly. What should have been a stress-free drive through the country can quickly turn into a life-altering situation when drivers choose to operate their vehicles irresponsibly. We’re here to hold those negligent individuals accountable for their actions. Contact us for more information on your legal rights and options.