A 2002 National Safety Council report indicates that road traffic injuries are the most common cause of death in the United States for all age groups up to 75 years, with the rate of fatal crashes higher in rural areas. Teen, young adult and senior drivers have the highest fatality rates. Research further indicates that most crashes are the result of driver impairment or high-risk driving behavior.
Why are rural crashes more common? Why are teen and senior drivers experiencing the highest fatality rates? An LRRB-funded study completed in 2007 explored this topic through surveys and driving simulator tests, concluding that driver perceptions of risk that fed into high-risk behavior (speeding, nonuse of seat belts, driving while impaired) were correlated with age and residency (rural versus urban). More investigation was needed to further understand these connections in order to tailor effective safety interventions to specific categories of high-risk drivers.