Friday, November 30, 2007

Rural Seat Belt Use and Rumble Strips

Given everything we have read, it is not surprising that rural areas would be resistant to seat belt laws. Nor should it be surprising that seat belts save lives. I am not sure if it is kosher to post a blog about a similar blog, but the blog from the Institute for Rural Journalism has an interesting article on a study about how seat belt laws cut deaths in rural areas. This was put out by the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety. According to the blog, rural areas (defined as those with populations under 5000) account for 57% of automobile-related fatalities. Given the strength of the data on the lives saved, it is really surprising to me that so many states still fail to have primary seat belt laws.

This also led me to a study on the use of rumble strips in rural areas. Every time I am back in Wisconsin, the rumble strip is one of those incredibly useful tools that I miss in urban areas. For those who are not familiar, rumble strips are bumps placed on the pavement or grooves cut into the pavement near intersections that remind the distracted driver that they will need to stop soon. This has always seemed to me to an incredibly good idea, and a useful one in other locations, such as urban/suburban intersections where people frequently run red lights or stop signs. The study showed that rumble strips really influence behavior. Maybe this is a case where the urban can take a practical rural tool and use or adapt it to enhance urban safety.

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