West Virginia is a beautiful state, no question. Scenic mountains are part of the appeal, with stunning views appreciated by residents and visitors alike.
Regrettably, the many rural roads, along with the dangerous driving behaviors of the motorists who frequent them, make the number of traffic fatalities in West Virginia higher than the national average.
With the exception of Kentucky, West Virginia’s neighboring states—Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia—have traffic fatality rates lower than the national average. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kentucky joins West Virginia in having higher rates.
Road problems and more
Narrow, winding roads through West Virginia’s mountains are partly to blame for the high statistics. Upkeep is also a problem. In many states, counties and localities help take care of road maintenance. In West Virginia, the Division of Highways is responsible for maintaining 95% of the roads, a big job. In 2017, 62% of the traffic fatalities in our state occurred on rural roads. However, drunk driving and excessive speed are also heavy contributors to car crash deaths.
In the fall of 2017, a 24-year-old college student ran off the road, was ejected from his vehicle and later died from his injuries. He was one of the 242 vehicle crash fatalities on West Virginia’s roads as of late November that year. One of the worst accidents to happen to a family occurred in 2013 when a speeding drunk driver hit a Chrysler van head-on. The family of six in the van—the driver, her parents and three of her children—survived, but with serious injuries. The mother needs a wheelchair now, and the father suffered a broken back, broken neck, fractured skull and crushed eye socket, in addition to multiple brain bleeds.
Many trucks travel on West Virginia roads: coal trucks, lumber trucks and heavy equipment trucks, in particular. Because truck-car accidents can result in devastating injuries or death, these large, heavy and sometimes overloaded vehicles pose an additional concern for motorists, contributing to the fact that the rural roads in West Virginia are among the most dangerous in America.