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Why are there more drunk drivers in rural areas?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Car Accidents

People tend to think of urban areas as hotbeds for all kinds of substance abuse. However, young people in rural areas are much more likely to engage in high-risk activities like drinking and driving than those who live in cities.

Regardless of where you live, everybody knows that drinking and driving is dangerous – and illegal. So why do people keep doing it, especially in rural areas? 

There are likely numerous factors in play

Some of the least populated areas of the country have the most fatal alcohol-related wrecks. When researchers explored the reasons young people in one of those areas gave for their actions, some themes became evident:

  • Peer pressure can be heavy: In rural communities, people don’t have a lot of options for friendships, so it can be harder to walk away from a group that encourages risk-taking
  • Parental modeling: Generational habits (and curses) die hard. When young people witness their elders drinking and driving, it becomes normalized behavior.
  • Social values: Drinking together can be a way for groups to create and maintain cohesion, and it can allow people to see drunk driving as something “everybody does”
  • Rural culture: Rural identities are often deeply tied to a sense of personal independence, and that can make people resistant to rules – even ones designed for everybody’s safety
  • Minimal police presence: Knowing that there are few patrol cars around and the odds of an arrest are pretty slim can make it easier for people to take chances they shouldn’t.
  • Lack of alternatives: In cities, there are buses, Ubers, Lyfts and cabs. In rural areas, those are largely absent – so people feel forced to drive anyhow.

If you were injured in a wreck with a drunk driver or a loved one was killed, you need to protect your interests. Learning more about how car accident laws work can help. 


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