Woman holding her head after a car accident on rural SC road

Rural roads, often considered peaceful and less trafficked, can be the sites of serious car accidents. If you’re injured in a collision on a rural road in South Carolina, a car accident lawyer from Joye Law Firm can help you explore your legal options for financial recovery.

Understanding the risks of driving on out-of-the-way roads and implementing tips for safe rural driving can help prevent accidents or injury to yourself and others.

Rural Crash Statistics

According to the Federal Highway Administration, drivers drove 903,527 miles in rural areas in 2020 and 2,000,095 miles in urban areas. These numbers show that people drive more than twice as much in urban areas compared to rural areas.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 43% of fatalities occurred on rural roads in 2020. This highlights the potentially dangerous nature of rural roads.

In South Carolina, most collisions happened on secondary routes in 2021, with 43,179 crashes reported. There were also 47 fatal and 176 serious injury crashes on county roads. For example, rural Laurens County’s crash rate was between 142 and 203.9 traffic collisions per 100 million vehicle miles traveled that year.

Common Causes Behind Rural Car Accidents

Understanding the common causes behind rural car accidents can help reduce the number of casualties. Common causes of backroad collisions include:

  • High speeds. Drivers often speed on rural roads due to less traffic and more open stretches. However, high speeds can reduce the driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, leading to an increased risk of serious injury accidents.
  • Limited road infrastructure. Many rural roads have inadequate infrastructure and maintenance. Potholes, uneven surfaces, and poorly marked lanes are common issues. These conditions can be hazardous, especially for drivers unfamiliar with the road, leading to accidents.
  • Alcohol-related crashes. In rural areas, people may feel more comfortable driving home after drinking because there is less traffic or pedestrians. However, impaired driving is a major contributor to rural road accidents, with 4,990 fatalities in 2020 involving alcohol.
  • Wildlife crossings. Animal crossings, such as deer, raccoons, and possums, are common in rural areas. Collisions with wildlife can occur, leading to accidents. In 2021, there were 164 deaths nationwide due to wildlife collisions, most often occurring between October and December.
  • Reduced visibility. Fog, heavy rain, or nighttime driving can reduce visibility on rural roads. The absence of street lights exacerbates the problem, making it challenging for drivers to see the road clearly and react to potential hazards timely.
  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving is critical everywhere, including on rural roads. Engaging in activities like texting, eating, or using a navigational system while driving can divert attention from the road, increasing the accident risk.
  • Fatigue. Driving on long, monotonous rural roads can sometimes induce fatigue, especially during long journeys. Fatigued driving can slow reaction time, impair judgment, and increase the risk of accidents.

Tips to Avoid Backroad Accidents

Safety should always be the priority when driving, especially in rural areas with unpredictable road conditions. Here are some practical tips that can help you avoid a collision when driving on South Carolina’s rural roads:

  • Adhere to speed limits. Rural roads might tempt you to speed up; however, adhering to the designated speed limits can give you enough time to react to sudden obstacles or sharp turns.
  • Expect wildlife. Many rural areas are inhabited by wildlife that can suddenly appear on the road. Stay alert, especially during dawn and dusk, and reduce speed in marked animal crossing areas to prevent accidents.
  • Use high-beam headlights wisely. High-beam headlights can enhance your view of the road in areas with limited visibility. However, they can make it difficult for oncoming drivers to see the road. Be courteous by switching to low beams when you see another car approaching.
  • Ensure vehicle readiness. Before venturing onto rural roads, ensure your vehicle is in good condition. Regularly inspect brakes, tires, and lights to avoid breakdowns and accidents on backroads.
  • Avoid distractions. It’s easy to get distracted by a scenic backdrop, but keeping your eyes on the road is crucial. Avoid using your phone or other distractions that detract your focus from driving.
  • Keep a safe following distance. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. If the vehicle suddenly stops or slows down, this gives you sufficient time to react. If you need to pass a car, follow traffic regulations and only pass on a dotted center line when it is safe.
  • Emergency kit. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, with necessities like a first-aid kit, flashlight, water, and basic tools to handle unforeseen situations.

Protect Your Rights with Legal Support

Rural roads can offer a relaxing drive with minimal traffic; however, potential dangers like sharp turns, poor road conditions, and unpredictable wildlife crossings can result in a crash.

If you’re involved in a backroad car accident with another driver, consult with a car accident attorney at Joye Law Firm. Our car accident lawyers can protect your rights to financial compensation by investigating the incident, determining liability, and filing a well-supported claim on your behalf.

Our team has over 250 years of combined legal experience and has won millions for accident victims in South Carolina. Contact our law firm for a free, no-obligation case review to learn your legal options after an accident in Clinton.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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