A recent report shows that South Carolina had the highest rate of traffic fatalities on rural roads in the United States, ranking significantly above heavily rural states like Texas or Florida.
TRIP, the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that produced the report, found that there were 4.7 deaths per 100 million miles of travel in 2009 in South Carolina. During 2009, 791 people died on South Carolina’s rural roads.
On why rural roads are particularly dangerous, the report says, “Inadequate roadway safety design, longer emergency vehicle response times and the higher speeds traveled on rural roads compared to urban roads are factors in the higher traffic fatality rate found on rural, non-Interstate routes..
Most rural crashes in the United States involve a vehicle going off-road. Head-on collisions occurred 87% more often on rural than urban roads in the U.S. in 2009. These statistics hold particular importance to South Carolina where, among 64,920 miles of roadways, about 84% are rural.
The report also found that 14% of South Carolina bridges were deficient.
Shortly after the report’s release, South Carolina’s Department of Transportation released a summary of future and ongoing road projects. The agency stated, “[W]e have experienced a down trend in overall fatalities over the past four years. The Department will continue to move forward with proven safety initiatives to address the issue of traffic fatalities..
On the importance of continuing to invest in infrastructure, Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, said on his blog, “[C]ontinued federal investments in rural communities will create construction jobs and ensure that farmers and ranchers have the roads, rail lines, and ports they need to move their products to market..