An interesting article today from USA Today states that a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study has found that significantly more traffic accident deaths (56% of the total annual number) occur on roads located in rural areas. This is despite the fact that only 23% of Americans live in rural areas. The article quotes Lee Munnich, the director of the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota, who explains that while there are more accidents in urban areas, the number of fatalities in rural accidents is higher:
People drive faster on rural roads, which are not as well-engineered as urban highways, increasing the likelihood of death or severe injury in crashes, Munnich says. Other factors: behavioral differences, including more drunken driving and less use of seat belts in rural areas, and slower delivery of acute medical care.
The USA Today article provides a state by state breakdown of rural vs. urban traffic fatalities and at 68% of traffic fatalities occuring on rural roads, Wisconsin is significantly higher than the 56% national average.