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Lonely Highways: The Role of Social Capital in Rural Traffic Safety

Matthew Nagler () and Nicholas J Ward
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Nicholas J Ward: Center for Health and Safety Culture, Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717 -4250, USA

Eastern Economic Journal, 2016, vol. 42, issue 1, 135-156

Abstract: Pursuant to earlier findings that social capital reduces traffic fatality risks, we explore here whether the same protective effects of social capital exist on rural roads as urban roads and what might explain differential effects. Our estimation of simultaneous equation systems of complementary traffic incident types on a panel of US states reveals a significantly lower protective effect on rural roads. Potentially relevant differentials in crash-type/context exposure do not mediate this outcome. Rather it appears the relative prevalence of certain risk behaviors (e.g., speeding) skew rural environments toward crash situations where the critical safety factors are orthogonal to social capital influence.

Date: 2016
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