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Rural/Urban Safety Data Available

Rural/Urban Safety Data Available

In This Article:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released 2018 data related to traffic fatalities in the Traffic Safety Facts brief Rural/Urban Comparison of Traffic Fatalities (PDF). According to the brief, 45 percent of traffic fatalities occurred in rural areas, 53 percent in urban areas, and 2 percent in unknown areas. This is based on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Although the rural share of traffic fatalities has decreased compared with urban fatalities, rural fatalities remain a major concern. Only 19 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2018, and 30 percent of vehicle miles traveled was estimated on rural roadways. The fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled is twice as high for rural areas as urban. Read the full brief (PDF) for more information about crash causes and transportation modes.

In addition, NHTSA released the report Geospatial Summary of Crash Fatalities (PDF) in May 2020. This analysis of location data of crashes in FARS shows that 59 percent of rural crashes take place within 5 miles of an urban area. Urban area includes urban clusters of 2,500 – 49,999 population, as well as larger urbanized areas with a population of 50,000 or more. The report shows that different types of crashes tend to occur in different locations, such as more rollover crashes in rural areas and more intersection crashes in urban areas. View the full report (PDF) to learn more about types of crashes, transportation modes, and location.

For more traffic safety data and resources, visit

Share information about rural transportation safety as part of Rural Road Safety Awareness Week! Participants are using the tags #RRSAW2020 and #RuralRoadSafety.

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