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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Rural Transportation Statistics

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Rural roads account for a significant proportion of total lane miles in the United States, and they play a significant role in our nation’s transportation system, safely moving people and goods to their destinations. However, rural areas face several transportation challenges relating to safety, usage, and infrastructure condition.

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Information Management, Highway Statistics, table HM-60, available at; United States Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 5-Year Estimates, 2018.


While only 19% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, 45% of all roadway fatalities and 34% of all public highway-rail grade crossing fatalities occur on rural roads, and the fatality rate on rural roads is 2 times higher than on urban roads.

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Annual Vehicle Distance Traveled in Miles and Related Data, 2017-2018; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2018.


Large volumes of freight either originate in rural areas or are transported through rural areas on the nation’s highways, railways, and inland waterways.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Freight Analysis Framework Version 4.4, May 2019.

Infrastructure Condition

The condition of our nation’s rural transportation infrastructure varies, but rural areas commonly face challenges in maintaining infrastructure in good condition.

Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, National Bridge Inventory; Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics Report. 2017.