Traffic accidents can lead to severe injuries. Worse, they can lead to the death of our friends and family. Unfortunately, West Virginia has a high fatal car accident rate, much higher than the national average, and the highest rate of overall injury death in the nation. It has been that way for years, but why? Car accidents can lead to tremendous pain and suffering as well as major economic expenses for victims and their family members. Here, review some of the reasons that West Virginia has a high car accident fatality rate.
High rate of vehicular deaths
In a news article that covered a recent year of traffic fatalities in West Virginia, a study showed that the Mountain State has a crash fatality rate of 14.7 per 100,000 people. This is much higher than the national average (11.6 per 100,000 people), and it is also higher than the rates in most states around West Virginia (Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). The only state around West Virginia that also has fatality rates higher than the national average is Kentucky.
Rural, mountainous roads & their dangers
Traffic experts say that West Virginia’s rural and mountainous terrain plays a major role in why there are so many fatal traffic accidents in the state. Approximately 62% of all fatal crashes occurred on rural roads, and many of these are on our state’s mountainous roadways.
According to David Martinelli, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at West Virginia University, “Rural roads are in many ways more dangerous because they tend to be narrower, and they tend to not get high priority for maintenance.”
With mountainous terrain and a higher elevation, West Virginia roadways often become critically dangerous in winter weather conditions. In this WV, the Division of Highways owns and maintains around 95% of the state’s roads, and workers have a hard time keeping mountainous and rural roads clear during snowstorms.
Prevalence of drunk driving
Alcohol-impaired driving is a leading contributor to fatal accidents in West Virginia. In any given year, anywhere from 25% to 30% of fatal accidents are the result of a drunk driver. This means that around one out of every four fatal accidents in the Mountain State is the result of impaired driving.
Doing your part to prevent accidents
Two of the leading contributors to fatal accidents in West Virginia are speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. By slowing down and following the speed limit, drivers can prevent many serious accidents. By wearing a seat belt, drivers are much less likely to be seriously injured or killed if an accident does occur.
Some other tips that can help keep you safe on West Virginia roadways include:
- not driving late at night
- paying extra attention at intersections
- avoiding rule roads if possible
- practicing defensive driving
- not tailgating
- avoiding driving while tired
- never driving while distracted by your cell phone
Injured? Contact a West Virginia car accident lawyer
If you or somebody you love has been injured in a car accident, or if you have lost a family member in a traffic collision, contact the team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC today. We will investigate every aspect of the incident and work to secure the compensation you are entitled to. This can include the following:
- Coverage of all crash-related medical expenses
- Lost income if you cannot work while recovering
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of enjoyment of life damages
- Possible punitive damages against a negligent driver