A new study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that Massachusetts is one of the safest states to drive in the nation, second only to Washington, D.C. Among the most dangerous: Montana, Wyoming, Louisiana and Mississippi. The primary reason for the difference: Urban roads are safer than rural roads.
Even in states with low overall road death rates, rural areas often have rates twice as high as urban ones. That’s because urban areas usually have roads with lower speed limits, more safety engineering features such as divided highways and faster access to emergency medical care than rural routes. Many rural deaths occur when vehicles leave the road and crash into trees or other obstructions.
“An urban state in the Northeast is going to have a much lower fatality rate than a rural Western state with a lot of high-speed, two-lane rural roads, where serious crashes are more likely to happen,” says Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.