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Are you safe in the city?

New research says yes, urban beats rural when it comes to safety.

By Sally Wadyka Jul 23, 2013 8:41PM
Having spent most of my formative years in Manhattan, it was a shock to the system when I moved to a small mountain town out west. To me, safety was always about numbers. In New York City, you never wanted to walk down a deserted street, and the more people I saw around me, the safer I felt. But suddenly, I had to figure out how to feel secure in a place where I was often the only person around -- seemingly for miles.

Even though it’s been about a decade since I left the Big Apple, I still feel safer in the city for the most part than I do in less populated places. And now, I’ve got research that backs up that intuition. A new study  to be published tomorrow in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, reveals that -- contrary to common perception -- large cities are actually significantly safer than rural areas. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed over 1.2 million injury deaths that occurred between 1999 and 2006. And they found that the risk of dying from an injury was 22 percent higher in rural counties than in big cities. The biggest death threat was car accidents -- for people who live in the country, about 28 out of every 100,000 people die in a car crash, but for city dwellers, it was only about 11 out of 100,000. Guns are another big issue when it comes to accidental death, but that risk was about the same for both the country and the city (although it’s worth noting that kids in rural areas had significantly higher rates of firearm-related deaths than did city kids).

Speaking of guns, I know you’re thinking, what about murder? Isn’t the risk of that so much higher if you live in a city versus a peaceful, bucolic rural town? And while yes, it’s true that there are more homicides per capita in cities than in rural areas, your overall risk of getting murdered is actually pretty low no matter where you are. As the lead author, Sage Myers, MD, wrote: “The rate of unintentional injury dwarfs the risk of homicide, with the rate of unintentional injury more than 15 times that of homicide among the entire population.”

So staying safe may be less about watching your back than it is watching out for cars (no matter where you live!).

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Tags: Studies
Jul 26, 2013 1:52PM
Not a good comparison.  Two entirely different life styles each with their own unique characteristics.
Jul 26, 2013 11:08AM
It's not how long you live,it is all about the quality of those years. I would rather die than live in any city.
 As far as deaths by car per 100k people...most city dwellers don't own cars and city speeds are lower because of congestion,so lower death rates. Any study can be slanted for whatever agenda needed.
   If you fear guns you should not own one.But don't take mine because of your own paranoia. I know the world is full of evil things,and a gun is nothing more than a tool for survival when needed.
Jul 27, 2013 1:23AM
The greatest risk in rural areas is dying of boredom.
Jul 26, 2013 12:13PM
If you are going to live in fear then you might as well go ahead and end it. You are safe nowhere if your mind tells you so. However if you believe that God is watching after you and you use some common sense there is no reason to live in fear. We have nothing to fear but fear itself! "Mohammed Istzla"
Jul 26, 2013 1:47PM
I left the city 30 years ago, after the State would not help private schools and I needed to send my kids to a good school.
Jul 27, 2013 1:54AM
If you can have a gun, the city is alright, won't go to New York the Nazi state or any state that is anti-gun as that is a terrible way to die.

I hate city life preferring to live in a more rural than urban area and work in the city.

I live in the Seattle Metropolitan area where most of the jobs are found,but I'd rather live

far from it all even if I have to do long commute to go to work.traffic is terrible,crime rate is climbing and the population in the Greater Seattle area is increasing very rapidly due to the flow of people moving up here from other parts of the country.

Aug 8, 2013 3:32PM
i live in a rural area and i love it i like being away from neighbors and only 45 min. from dc and same as baltimore .don't like noise of hearing neighbors above or below like not locking up car no blasting of rap music kids can play with no fear of being hurt robbed or molested. yes more work cutting grass ect. but could never live in city for some it is ok but not me
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