While drunk driving is a problem in both urban and rural settings, there’s a noticeable disparity in the prevalence of drunk driving fatalities between the two environments.
What gives? Why does it seem like rural areas are uniquely predisposed to bigger problems with drunk drivers when compared to urban areas? Several factors are likely at play:
1. There’s limited public transportation
One of the most significant factors contributing to the higher rate of drunk driving accidents in rural areas is the limited availability of public transportation. Urban areas have buses, subways, taxis and rideshare services – while getting so much as an Uber in a rural area can be impossible. This can lead people to decide they just don’t have any other option but to try to sober up enough to drive when they want to go home.
2. The threat of arrest isn’t as big of a concern
Rural areas typically have fewer law enforcement officers per capita compared to their urban counterparts. This means that there’s less enforcement of drunk driving laws – and that can make people willing to take chances. With fewer officers patrolling the vast rural areas, the chances of getting caught are slim. It’s estimated that the average drunk driver will take the chance 80 times before they get caught.
3 There are unique social factors at play
Rural communities tend to place a strong emphasis on social gatherings where alcohol consumption is the norm. The tight-knit nature of many rural communities can create an environment where people may feel either permitted to drink and drive (because everybody else does it) or they feel pressured to do it (because they don’t want to be seen as weak).
Ultimately, it’s wise for drivers passing through rural areas to be aware of the heightened risk of a drunk driving accident. If a wreck does happen, legal guidance can help victims obtain fair compensation for their losses.