People have been moving to the country for years to escape the dangers of city life. However, according to new research, they may be better off staying put.
The American College of Emergency Physicians published a study titled “Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States?” this week. The researchers, led by Sage R. Myers of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, noted that the overall injury risk in urban vs. suburban and rural areas was not fully described until their study.
As a result, Myers’ team attempted to classify injuries-related deaths “across the rural-urban continuum.” From 1999 to 2006, they looked at data on 1,295,919 injuries deaths in 3,141 U.S. counties. Car accidents, shootings, falls, drowning, suffocation, and other factors contributed to these deaths. According to Rural Crime and Security website, rural security is a big business now days
“As rurality increased, injury mortality increased,” the researchers wrote. “Urban counties had the lowest death rates, by a significant margin over rural counties.”
The researchers discovered that the risk of dying from an injury was 1.22 times higher in rural counties than in urban counties.
The following are five surprising findings from the study:
Cities aren’t statistically riskier than rural areas.
In the paper’s introduction, the authors point out that overall injury deaths have historically been higher in cities. However, they did note that since 2008, more than half of the world’s population has lived in cities. In the United States, as in many other countries, urban counties have a higher population density than rural counties. When the number of deaths from injuries is averaged over a larger population, the risk to any given individual appears lower for city dwellers.
“Paradoxically, research also exists suggesting that rural areas bear a disproportionately high level of risk for certain serious injuries like suicide and motor vehicle injuries, raising the possibility of increased safety threats to rural residents,” the researchers wrote.
Besides, trauma physicians in urban areas are more accessible, better trained, and equipped, which may contribute to lower death rates from all types of injuries, according to the paper.
Rural residents also spend more time doing what the researchers consider to be the most dangerous activity: driving. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents occurred at a rate of 14.9 people per 100,000 during the study period.
Guns were the second most common cause of injury death, with a rate of 10.4 people per 100,000. Poisoning, drowning, suffocation, and falls were further down the list.
Overall, 56.2 people per 100,000 died as a result of injuries. Intentional injury (homicide and suicide) had 17 per 100,000, while unintentional injury had a rate of 37.5 per 100,000.
Injury-Related Deaths Have Increased, Not Declined.
With advances in emergency medicine and motor vehicle safety, as well as years of public awareness campaigns on topics like driving, gun safety, and suicide and violence prevention, you might think injury-related deaths are on the decline.
According to the paper, this was not the case—at least not between 1999 and 2006. During that time, the rate of injury-related deaths rose by about 1%.
Car deaths are higher in rural areas than in suburbs or cities.
It may come as a surprise to anyone who has been in a fender bender in a mall parking lot, at a busy intersection, or on a congested expressway. Still, the researchers discovered that the more rural a county was, the higher the death rate from auto accidents. This was found to be right across all age groups studied.
Although there are fewer cars in rural areas, there may be differences in driving habits and limited access to medical care.
Race Has a Surprising Relationship with Injury Rates.
Compared to rural counties with the lowest percentage of black residents, the paper found that rural counties with the highest rate of black residents had a significantly lower risk of death from injury. However, when comparing urban counties with the highest number of black residents to urban counties with the lowest number of African-Americans, there was no difference in the risk of injury death.
Compared to urban counties with the highest percentage of Latinos, rural counties with the highest Latino rate had a significantly higher risk of injury death. The risk of injury death was higher in rural counties with a larger Latino population than in rural counties with a smaller Latino population.
The study’s authors said more research is needed on what they called the “protective” effect of black residents in rural areas. However, they suggested that the relatively low suicide rate among African-Americans and the location of some historically black rural neighborhoods away from highways, which may reduce the rate of traffic accidents, could be factors. The findings of Latinos were left unmentioned by the authors.
More deaths are associated with higher levels of education and income.
Compared to urban counties with the highest percentage of college-educated residents, the researchers found that rural counties with the highest rate of college-educated residents had a significantly higher risk of injury death. The trouble was also more significant in rural areas with the most educated residents than in rural areas with the least educated residents. In contrast, there was no difference in the risk of injury death in urban areas with highly educated residents versus those with less education. The trouble was more significant in rural counties with the highest median income than in urban counties with the highest median income. The rural counties with the highest incomes were at higher risk than those with the lowest incomes.