Having space to roam might be the greatest benefit of living away from the city. With extra land comes extra freedom to do and live as you see fit. It also comes with dangers different from what you might find in the metropolitan sector. Auto accidents in particular tend to be a breed all their own.
That was the scene recently when two cars met in a head-on collision near La Grange. An elderly couple from Elkhorn, Dennis and Joy Hinze, did not survive the crash. Matthew Kilroy and his 15-year-old passenger survived the crash and were airlifted to a trauma center. Few details have been released about the accident, but it’s hard not to consider the dangers we see every day while driving in rural areas.
Know the dangers
The most common causes of auto accidents remain surprisingly similar regardless of where you live. The context for the accidents and how it applies to driving in rural areas is what we need to watch out for.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is consistently the number one cause of accidents on the road. Keep this in mind while driving down a long stretch of pasture-flanked highway. As empty as the road may seem, keep focused. You never see the accident that gets you.
- Drunk driving – Drunk driving disproportionally affects rural areas in Wisconsin and neighboring Minnesota. The number of chronic drunk drivers has remained steady or even increased in the last 5 years in some counties. Stay safe, arrange a sober ride when heading home.
- Speeding – It’s a thrilling experience to feel the power and freedom of opening up your vehicle on a desolate stretch of road. It is also a major cause of accidents. From sudden animal collisions to unexpected traffic, speed kills. Don’t take the risk; stay within the speed limit.
- Heavy rain and snow – Northern climates can’t get a break. If rain isn’t threatening to make you hydroplane, snow and ice will have you skidding across the countryside. Regardless of what kind of vehicle you drive, pay respect to road conditions. Take it slow in bad weather and keep your ride out of the ditch.
- Tailgating – Sometimes there’s nothing more frustrating than a slow driver. Try to keep your emotions under control, though. Tailgating can only lead to unfortunate outcomes in the event of a sudden animal crossing or other unexpected event. Simply make a lawful pass and continue on your way.
Many of these risky behaviors may seem familiar. Don’t let yourself fall victim to winding up in a fender bender or worse.
As different as rural drivers may be from city drivers, the specific dangers of the road don’t dramatically change from town to country. What matters is the context of how you find yourself in these situations. Keep these in mind while you enjoy driving the wide expanses of our state and keep yourself safe.