We’ve probably all done it. In fact, Florida’s mix of heavily urban areas that feed into more rural bedroom communities lends itself to it. You get off the freeway, and you relax your grip on the wheel, assuming you are home free.
But, if nationwide statistics are any indication, Palm Beach car accidents, and traffic accidents elsewhere in Florida, are most likely to occur on rural roads. The USA Today reports that 57 percent of highway deaths nationwide happen on roads designated as rural.
The Center of Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota found that 84 percent of those surveyed said they felt safe on rural interstates. And 79 percent felt safe on rural two-lane highways, compared to 69 percent on multi-lane freeways in urban areas.
Drivers who feel more comfortable are also more likely to engage in distracted driving habits, such as using a cell phone, eating, drinking or utilizing in-car electronics. Such behavior could be at least partly responsible for the increased risk.
“People seem to feel more comfortable on those roads, even though the facts show that it’s more dangerous,” says Lee Munnich, director of the center. “They feel more relaxed and, as a result, they are engaging in behavior that is riskier.”
The only exception to the rule was for speeders, who said they felt safer going faster on large urban highways than on rural roads. Many rural accidents are single-vehicle accidents involving a car that loses control and leaves the roadway, a dynamic that could be explained by how motorists perceive risk.
“The more people perceive they have control, the less they perceive a situation as being risky,” Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm dedicated to helping motorists who have been injured in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and the Port St. Lucie/Fort Pierce areas. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.