Policy Study

Rural Highway Fatality Rate

The nation’s rural highway fatality rate worsened from 1.58 in 2015 to 1.71 in 2016.

The rural highway fatality rate is one of the new categories added to this year’s Highway Report. Given the troubling increase in highway fatalities and other changes we made to the safety metrics in the report, we have added a new category examining rural fatality rate. We have analyzed the past three years of data to place the ratings in context.

The nation’s rural highway fatality rate worsened from 1.58 in 2015 to 1.71 in 2016, (Table 18, Rural Fatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle-Miles, 2016, Figure 13). The rural fatality rate has increased over the last several years after a decades-long downward trend. While there is no one cause, distracted driving appears to be the biggest contributor. In 2016, 8,032 rural fatalities were reported, more than the 7,130 rural fatalities reported in 2015, as rural VMT (vehicle-miles of travel) increased to 0.47 trillion from 0.45 trillion in 2015. There were more rural fatalities in 2016 than in any year since 2007.

Fatality Rate Per 100 Million Rural Vehicle-Miles
24th Annual Highway Report

FATALITY RATE PER 100 MILLION RURAL VEHICLE MILES, 2016 Placeholder
FATALITY RATE PER 100 MILLION RURAL VEHICLE MILES, 2016

1 to 10 Very Good 11 to 20 Good 21 to 30 Average 31 to 40 Bad 41 to 50 Very Bad 

For 2016, Massachusetts reported the lowest rural fatality rate, 0.24, while Hawaii reported the highest, 6.99. Most states (30 of 50) reported an increase in their rural fatality rates compared to 2015, led by Hawaii and Florida, which worsened 3.28 and 2.25 points, respectively. Twenty states saw their fatality rates decrease, with Connecticut reporting the largest rate decrease of 1.00.

Fatality Rate per 100 Million Rural Vehicle-Miles
RankStateFatality Rate per 100 Million Vehicle-Miles
1Massachusetts0.24
2Rhode Island0.50
3Maryland0.60
4Connecticut0.66
5Ohio0.69
6Minnesota0.70
7Michigan0.70
8Vermont0.71
9Washington0.79
10New Jersey0.99
11Maine1.01
12Virginia1.02
13Wisconsin1.03
14South Dakota1.03
15Illinois1.06
16Louisiana1.09
17Tennessee1.10
18New Hampshire1.14
19Delaware1.16
20Pennsylvania1.19
21Iowa1.20
22North Dakota1.26
23Kentucky1.27
24Missouri1.29
25Nebraska1.29
26Oklahoma1.31
27West Virginia1.34
28Georgia1.37
29Indiana1.38
30Wyoming1.44
31Utah1.45
32Nevada1.49
33Colorado1.51
34New Mexico1.56
35Montana1.60
36Arizona1.61
37Alaska1.64
38Texas1.65
39Arkansas1.72
40Alabama1.81
41Idaho1.89
42Oregon2.06
43South Carolina2.08
44Kansas2.23
45New York2.27
46Mississippi2.47
47California3.18
48Florida3.87
49North Carolina4.90
50Hawaii6.99
Weighted Average1.71
View national trends and state-by-state performances by category:

Full Study: 24th Annual Highway Report

24th Annual Highway Report’s State-by-State Summaries