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3 reasons rural pedestrian crashes can be especially dangerous

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Plenty of people in rural Louisiana walk instead of driving to meet with neighbors or friends. Many others jog or walk on public roads as a way of getting exercise. Pedestrians in countryside settings often assume they are safe even though they don’t have access to sidewalks the way that people in cities do.

Unfortunately, rural areas experience a large percentage of the severe and deadly pedestrian crashes that happen every year. The environment in a rural setting may actually lend itself to an increased risk of pedestrian collisions and worse outcomes when they do occur.

What makes walking or jogging on country roads so dangerous?

Higher speed limits

One of the most important factors in a pedestrian crash is the speed of the vehicle. Many rural roads have higher speed limits, often 55 miles per hour (mph). Many drivers view those limits as suggestions and may routinely drive at 10 mph or more over the posted limit. Pedestrians struck in rural settings are therefore at significantly elevated risk of severe injury or death because of the speed of the other vehicle involved in the incident.

Visibility issues

In rural settings, drivers often take for granted that they are unlikely to cross paths with pedestrians. There are no crosswalks or signs to alert drivers to watch for pedestrians. Additionally, there is a lack of overhead lighting at night. Dark streets and a lack of specified crossing zones can contribute to the likelihood that drivers might completely fail to notice pedestrians in traffic. Many of the worst pedestrian collisions occur after the sun sets for the day, as drivers may not see a pedestrian until they are too close to stop when driving on rural roads.

Lack of nearby support

When a pedestrian crash occurs in a rural setting, it could be quite some time before first responders arrive on the scene to provide emergency medical support. The delay in care could worsen their prognosis. The lack of nearby infrastructure can be dangerous in part because it may encourage drivers to illegally leave the scene of a crash instead of stopping to assist the pedestrian and report the incident to authorities. A pedestrian struck in a rural setting could end up involved in a hit-and-run because the driver at fault thinks they can flee without getting caught.

Other factors, such as the common practice of taking rural roads instead of urban streets and highways when driving home after a night at the bar, could also increase the risk for pedestrians on country roads. Understanding why walking in rural settings can be particularly dangerous may help people reduce their risk of a crash and better handle the fallout of one if they do get hit.