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Rural Health Information Hub

Models to Improve Transportation Safety or Infrastructure

More than 95% of rural households have a personal vehicle and rural residents drive personal vehicles more frequently than urban residents. Because of the importance of personal vehicle transportation, rural communities may need to balance efforts to increase accessibility and affordability of public transportation with investments in road infrastructure to support the needs of drivers. Reports on infrastructure quality across the country indicate that significant resources need to be allocated to maintaining airports, bridges, transit systems, and roads.

The traffic fatality rate in rural areas is more than twice the fatality rate in urban areas. While the number of deaths has decreased across the country in recent years, the rate of decline has been slower in rural areas. This disparity could be due to higher speeds on rural roads, fewer road safety features like lighting or lane separators, and longer response times for emergency vehicles following a serious collision.

Improvements in safety and infrastructure can be expensive and often require financing through grants from federal agencies. However, relatively minor changes can promote easier movement for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities who do not have access to a personal vehicle. Thoughtful design can also spur economic revitalization in downtown areas and promote active transportation and recreation opportunities for all members of the community.

This toolkit describes 3 models that are designed to improve transportation safety or infrastructure: