Though most of us know about the cultural differences that appear to exist between people in red and blue states, we likely have never heard that there are also differences in fatal traffic accident rates. According to a recent article in the LA Times, red states have significantly higher fatal traffic accident rates than blue states.
Some may try to extract political reasons for the difference, but experts agree that the real reason is one of geography. Most red states have higher speed limits than blue states given the increased amount of open, rural roadways as opposed to dense, urban population centers. Moreover, red states often see drivers having to travel longer distances and go further to find a hospital or emergency services. Blue staters are more likely to use public transportation, further dropping their chance of being killed on the road.
Public transportation usage dramatically reduces the rate of road deaths, so much so that many people have used the data to push for an increase in government money directed towards rail projects. Nearly all of the least fatal states have comprehensive public transportation systems which keep residents from driving much of the time.
The site revealed that the 10 highest death rates, per 100,000 people, occurred in states that voted for Mitt Romney in the recent election. Even more surprising is that fully 17 out of the 18 deadliest traffic accident states voted Republican in 2012. The 10 states with the highest traffic death rates per 100,000 population are: Wyoming, Mississippi, Arkansas, Montana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Equally surprising is that nine out of the 10 states with the least traffic fatalities per capital voted for President Obama in 2012. These include: the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, California, Minnesota and Alaska. The gap between the best and the worst states is pretty amazing: Wyoming saw 27.46 deaths per 100,000. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the District of Columbia had only 3.97 deaths per 100,000, only one-seventh the rate of fatal accidents as Wyoming.
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