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State's fatal car crash rate above national average

West Virginia's fatal car crash rate is higher than the national average and higher than that of nearby states, according to federal statistics. Traffic safety experts say that multiple factors contribute to the problem.

As of late November, traffic accidents had killed 242 people on West Virginia roads in 2017. The state's death rate is 14.7 per 100,000 people, compared to the national average of 11.6 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, most other surrounding states have death rates below the U.S. average. Kentucky is the only other state in the region with a death rate above the national average.

According to traffic safety experts, drunk drivers and West Virginia's mountain roads are the top causes of the state's elevated traffic death rate. Twenty-five percent of all fatal crashes in the state involved drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or above. Further, many of West Virginia's rural roads are not as well-maintained as urban roads. In fact, 62 percent of all deadly crashes took place on the state's rural roadways. Speeding also played a role, contributing to 32 percent of all fatal accidents in the state. Some lawmakers believe that the death rate could be reduced by investing more money in the state's infrastructure.

The surviving family members of people who have been killed in a fatal car accident often have to deal with financial concerns in addition to the grief that they have over the sudden loss of a loved one. Funeral and burial expenses have to be met, and if the decedent was the breadwinner, those contributions have to somehow be replaced. If it can be determined that the accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist, then an attorney could assist in filing a wrongful death lawsuit that would seek these and other damages.

Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail, "WV fatal car accident rate outpaces other states", Heather Lee Naples, Brianna Clark and Nayion Perkins, Dec. 25, 2017

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