Most of us have heard of the dangers of driving on the highway. We’ve all seen the horrific images of drivers who lost control of their vehicles, causing massive collisions and losing their lives. But what happens when you drive on the backroads? How dangerous is it to drive on a winding rural road, far from any other vehicles or people? Let’s take a look.
Increased Collision Risk
When you’re driving on a rural road, there’s a higher chance that you’ll come across other vehicles. These drivers might not always be paying attention or following the rules of the road. This makes dangerous driving even more of a risk. In 2015, 19,600 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. alone. That’s the equivalent of one deadly accident every two minutes.
If you add up all the miles driven each year in the U.S., you’ll come up with an estimated 24.8 billion vehicle-miles. According to the National Safety Council, in 2015 there were an estimated 2.3 million collisions on the roadways. That’s an average of one collision every two and a half minutes.
Dangerous Weather Conditions
If you live in a temperate climate, it’s not unusual for you to encounter dangerous weather conditions on a regular basis. That can cause additional stress and anxiety when you’re driving. If there are sudden changes in weather conditions, those can also upset your vehicle’s stability and steering, putting you and other drivers in more danger. In 2015, there were an estimated 740,000 weather-related accidents in the U.S. More than 40% of these accidents were classified as severe.
Severe accidents result in more than 9,000 deaths and over 300,000 injuries per year. In the worst cases, people have lost limbs or suffered traumatic brain injuries. Driving in bad weather conditions is already dangerous, but the additional hazards posed by wind, rain, and snow make it even more so.
Increased Automotive Stress
We’re constantly surrounded by information about automotive safety. From TV shows which present us with unrealistic car challenges, to internet forums which present us with the latest news about deadly accidents, it’s easy for an individual to become overwhelmed by the information.
In the U.S., motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of five and 24. The total medical costs associated with motor vehicle accidents in America are now over $60 billion per year.
These costs include everything from hospital and medical charges to losing a day of work productivity. In some cases, people have died because of car accidents which were caused by other motorists who were texting or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The stress of driving is a major factor in the risk of motor vehicle accidents. In a 2010 study from the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers found that drivers on winding roads reported higher levels of stress than those on straight and flat roads. This is because, on winding roads, the vehicle is constantly having to adjust its direction, resulting in more movement which in turn results in more driver stress.
In the same study, when asked about the primary source of their stress, 83% of the motorists reported other drivers as the main cause. This was followed by traffic lights and construction zones (both 7%), weather conditions (6%) and speed limits (5%).
The only way you can really know how dangerous a certain road is, is by traveling it and experiencing the conditions for yourself. There are many tools online which can calculate the grade of a road, based on the number of curves and turns. If you live in a country which uses metric measures, there are also apps which can tell you how fast you’re going based on the GPS data from your smartphone.
Increased Risk Due To Driving Conditions
Aside from the other factors mentioned above, there’s also the factor of the road itself to consider. Some roads are obviously more dangerous than others. Some roads are narrow and winding, while others are wider and have more lanes. Certain roads have thicker traffic or are used by more frequent passing vehicles, while others are isolated and winding, providing better opportunities for some types of accidents.
These factors all contribute to making some roads more dangerous than others. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from recent accidents and incidents it’s that simply driving somewhere doesn’t mean you’ll arrive safely. This is why it’s important to take the time to find a map and identify the conditions of the road which you’re traveling.
The danger of driving is a major factor which contributes to the risk of motor vehicle accidents. The more you know about the conditions of the road, the better you can prepare. If you want to reduce your risk of getting into an accident, be sure to take the time to study maps and identify the most dangerous roads in your area. You might also consider preparing for rougher roads by driving slowly and carefully, avoiding situations where you’re forced to drive on winding roads or in bad weather conditions. It would also be wise to have a full repair kit with you in case your car breaks down, since stranded drivers are more likely to be in accidents than those who have a functioning vehicle. Finally, make sure you’re keeping up with all the necessary vehicle maintenance, so that your car is in good condition and ready to go whenever you are.