Nearly half of all fatal crashes in the US occur on rural roads, despite only 19 per cent of the US population living in rural areas, a new report has revealed.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) study found that 85,002 people have died in crashes on rural roads between 2016 and 2020 – the five most recent years of data.

In 2020, the risk of dying in a crash was 62 per cent higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for the same trip length.

According to the GHSA, the high rate of crashes on rural roads is caused by several factors, including lack of safety resources, simpler roadway infrastructure, poor emergency medical services and risky driver behaviors including not wearing a seat belt, impaired driving, speeding and distraction.

“Roads are the backbone of rural America, connecting far-flung communities and families,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins.

“While cities and urban areas have alternatives to driving, that’s not the case for people in rural areas.

“Unfortunately, the dangerous and deadly driving behaviors that have increased during the pandemic have taken an oversized toll on rural residents. Making rural roads safer is essential for achieving the national goal of zero fatalities.”