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Caltrans: Fatalities common on rural roads nationally, not just Highway 36

EUREKA- Three days after a deadly collision on Highway 36 Caltrans officials are speaking out about the safety of that roadway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 40 percent of all fatal collisions in the county occurred on Highway 36. However, officials with Caltrans say the highway itself is not any more dangerous than other rural roads across the country.

“I think what people need to think about is that rural highways by their nature are different from urban highways, are different from 101,” said Brad Mettam, Deputy District 1 Director. “When you're on a rural highway the conditions that you need to drive for are the conditions that you see, curves, slower approaches, lower site distances, all of those kind of things are involved.”

According to Mettam, collision fatalities are significantly higher on rural roadways than urban ones nationally, with 57 percent of all fatal collisions occurring on rural roads.

And although CalTrans officials say that they are planning to make improvements to areas of Highway 36, they also say drivers should obey posted speed limits and drive cautiously when on the road.

“People need to obviously pay attention, not be distracted, not go faster than the conditions provide for and just be conscious of the fact that they are in a rural area,” Mettam said.