Montana drivers have a lot of ground to cover. The Big Sky State has more people die on its highways, per capita, than much more densely populated states.
This is explained, in part, by the fact that Montana is so rural. Most of the states with high per capita traffic fatalities are rural — Arkansas, West Virginia and Wyoming are on the top five list. Oklahoma is among a group of states in the second-highest category, with 1.26-1.44 fatalities per 100 million miles driven.
States with high rates of traffic deaths share some commonalities, such as low rates of seat belt use, a high number of speeders and a high percentage of deaths caused by drunken drivers. “Only 19 percent of Americans live in rural areas, but 55 percent of all road fatalities happened in the country,” reports stateline.org. Officials with AAA say people tend to drive faster in rural areas. Head-on collisions are more common. Emergency responders are spread thin; hospitals can be a long way from accident sites. These all contribute to a higher death toll.