Most crash deaths occur in rural areas. Although less than one-fifth of the population live in rural areas, nearly two-thirds of crash deaths occur there. Head-on crashes and single-vehicle run-off-road crashes are common in rural areas.
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths are more common in urban areas, as are crashes that cause nonfatal injuries to vehicle occupants and property damage. More traffic means more crashes, but better enforcement of speed limits and red lights can help minimize them. Simple traffic engineering changes such as adding left turn lanes can also help.
Fixed objects and animals present hazards. About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths occur when a vehicle leaves the road and strikes a fixed object such as a tree, utility pole or traffic barrier. Collisions with animals are a frequent cause of insurance claims for vehicle damage, particularly in the fall in states with large deer populations.
When roads go in circles at intersections, the risk of serious crashes drops. See our roundabouts section for more on this increasingly popular traffic engineering tool.
Rumble strips aren't just for roadway shoulders; research indicates they're effective on centerlines of two-lane roads. See Status Report, Vol. 39, No. 2, Feb. 7, 2004.