BOISE – Next week is Rural Road Safety Awareness Week, a reminder from AAA and its traffic safety partners to drive carefully, even in wide-open spaces away from heavy traffic.

“According to the Federal Highway Administration, about a third of all vehicle miles are traveled on rural roads, yet they represent nearly half of all crash deaths.  Emergency services may have a hard time reaching crash victims in some remote areas, which further underscores the need for caution,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “Even if there aren’t a lot of other cars on the road, you can never take a break from safety.”

Here are some of AAA’s safety reminders for rural roads:

  • Stay alert.  Lighting conditions, signage, and road markings are different in rural areas, and winding roads are common.  Slow down, especially at night.
  • Remember that some wildlife, such as deer, travel in groups of two or three.  If you’ve seen one, you may be close to another.
  • Stay on the road.  Many fatal crashes on rural roads involve a single vehicle that overturned or that departed the road and struck a fixed object, such as a rock or tree.
  • Share your route – cell service may be limited in some areas.
  • Watch for blind intersections.
  • Anticipate the presence of farm equipment (tractors, combines and ATVs) and free-range cattle.
  • Always wear your seat belt.

“In rural settings, a combination glass breaker/seat belt cutter could be an incredibly useful tool, and the importance of a good emergency kit and basic tools cannot be overstated,” Conde said.  “It’s fun to take the road less traveled – but doing so requires an engaged driver and a safety mindset.”