With over 675,000 total lane miles in Texas, the state leads in the number of accessible roads available for its drivers. While quite a large percentage of that belongs to major urban highways and roadways, a considerable amount also belongs to the state’s rural roads known as farm to market or ranch to market roads. U.S. 281 runs from the northern Red River Texas-Oklahoma border to the southern border with Mexico in McAllen. Rural roads that are east of that highway are called farm to market roads, and those that are west are called ranch to market roads. Although, there technically are no farm to market roads in the Rio Grande Valley where U.S. 281 ends. These rural roads, although at times peaceful and serene, can be quite dangerous and often times fatal for unaware drivers.
According to data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, twice as many highway deaths occur in rural areas making them twice as dangerous as their urban counterparts. There is a false sense of security when driving on rural roads because of the lack of traffic and distractions common to city areas leading to higher speeds and lack of vehicle control. However, there are potential hazards that every driver should be aware of when driving down a rural road.
- Unmarked fields and farm driveways
- Livestock crossing areas and farm vehicles
- Rough road conditions
- Highway hypnosis
Driving for miles on end on the same straight narrow road can lead to what is known as highway hypnosis. Highway hypnosis is similar to reading an article on your phone and realizing you have no idea what you just read. For a driver behind the wheel on a rural road, the slow brain activity and lack of connection can reduce reaction time and cause a major accident. By at least slowing your speed you can prevent yourself from a collision with a potential vehicle merging onto the highway into traffic, something common in rural areas. Drivers need to maintain awareness as things such as tractors, farm trucks, and farm animals can suddenly get on the roadway. Other common causes of car accidents on rural roadways are:
- Failing to control speed
- Being under the Influence
- Animals on Road
Where city folks have to be on the lookout for cyclists, traffic signs, and other drivers, rural motorists need to look out for animals, rough roads and trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel. If you have suffered an injury please feel free to call for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys at 361-882-4357.