Alabamians Are 2x More Likely to Die in a Car Accident Than the Average American
Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2016.
Some troubling data shows that Alabamians have a much greater risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident than residents of other states. Between 2003 and 2012, 8,234 people were killed in traffic accidents on Alabama roads. That’s a rate of 13.7 per 100,000 people, compared to a national rate of 7.0. The starkest contrast was among young people, with Alabamians aged 21-34 experiencing a fatality rate of 20.8 per 100,000 people, compared to a rate of 10.8 in the same population nationwide. However, in every age demographic, the fatality rate for Alabamians involved in accidents was significantly higher than the national average.
What Makes Alabama Roads So Dangerous?
The issue isn’t that Alabama roads are inherently more dangerous than in other states, or that Alabamians are worse drivers. Rather, the alarming data has much more to do with location. A much higher percentage of Alabama’s population lives in rural areas, where hospitals are not available close by. If you’re involved in an accident in a more isolated rural area, it can take significantly longer for an ambulance to reach you, and then to transport you a greater distance to a hospital that can treat your injuries.
There are currently eight counties in Alabama that have no hospital, and in the past six years five rural hospitals across the state have closed. The lack of a nearby hospital in case of an accident greatly increases the chance that the drivers and passengers involved could die of their injuries. The residents of rural areas in Alabama are 56% more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than their urban counterparts. For example, between 2011-2013, Lee County, located just outside of Montgomery, had the state’s lowest motor vehicle fatality rate at 9.9 fatalities per 100,000 people. Wilcox County, which is located nearby but in a much more rural setting, had a shocking motor vehicle mortality rate of 55.6 during the same time period.
Speed also plays a factor in motor vehicle accidents, and drivers are much more likely to speed on rural roads where there is not as much traffic and police are less likely to be on patrol. People also tend to travel longer distances when driving in rural areas, which also increases the likelihood of an accident and the risk of fatalities.
What Can Be Done to Help?
Most rural hospitals have closed in recent years due to financial constraints and other related problems. State officials are looking into other options to make life-saving emergency services available in rural areas, such as a Freestanding Emergency Department, which can operate separately from a hospital emergency department as long as it is not located more than 35 miles from the main hospital. Another option is the Critical Access Hospital, which is part of the Medicare program and offers a way of providing limited emergency care to high-need rural areas.
Of course, more hospitals and care centers aren’t the only solution to the problem of accident fatalities on rural roads. State officials stress that education is key to a long-term reduction in accident fatalities. The fatality rates for individuals 25 years and over who have only a ninth-grade education or less are 50.6, while for college graduates the fatality rate drops to 10.4. Even just having a high school diploma decreases an individual’s risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident.
Finally, common sense safe driving practices can help Alabamians stay safe on the road. Drivers should avoid the 3 Ds: distracted, drowsy, and drunk driving. Furthermore, always travel at a safe rate of speed, especially in rural areas. Seat belts also greatly reduce your risk of dying in an accident, and are required by law.
Contact our Birmingham car accident lawyers at The Mitchell Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation into your car accident claim.