West Virginia motorists may not realize how dangerous driving while drowsy can be, but a recent AAA survey found that around 43 percent of drivers admitted they had fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in their lives. A representative from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke at a forum on Nov. 4 in conjunction with National Driving Drowsy Prevention Week and reported that about 5,000 to 7,000 fatalities take place annually due to fatigued drivers.
Ready or not, autonomous cars are coming to West Virginia and the rest of the United States. The Mercedes-Benz S550 already features semi-autonomous abilities, and Tesla began testing its self-driving car this summer. Google is also testing autopilot cars, and Apple is rumored to be developing its own autonomous car.
New public service ads on television and online will remind teenagers in West Virginia that drinking and driving is the 'ultimate party foul." On Oct. 19, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council announced that they were launching a nationwide public service campaign in honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week.
West Virginia ranks sixth among states where motor vehicle fatalities are most common at a rate of 17.8 per 100,000 people. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that overall, deaths from automobile accidents have declined significantly in the last three years. This is part of an overall decline that has been ongoing since 1985 and is attributed in part to better safety features and structural design.
As the winter months set in, West Virginia motorists know that weather conditions change rapidly, which means they can be affected when driving. One weather condition that seems to appear abruptly and limit visibility is fog. And although the studies that have been done over the last 20 years show that fog-related crashes account for a minimal number of all collisions, it is still important to be aware of the role foggy weather can play.
West Virginia residents may have heard of the accident that wounded 18 Marines on a two-lane road at Camp Pendleton in California. Six of the 18 injured marines were in critical condition as of Sept. 11 after a rollover crash caused the multi-ton truck they were traveling in to flip over on the paved roadway. One 21-year-old corporal from Louisiana was killed in the accident and eight of the troops were listed as being in stable condition before being discharged from their respective medical facilities. In total, there were 19 Marines involved.
There are many causes of car accidents, such as gross negligence or recklessness, which could lead to some drivers being criminally charged, convicted and jailed. However, some West Virginia motorists who have been jailed might want to revisit their cases, because many people are finding that they were wrongly convicted for accidents that were caused by vehicle defects.
A person might not realize the extent of an injury after being in a car accident in West Virginia. Most people are familiar with whiplash injuries that might take hours or days to present symptoms after a wreck, but other serious conditions might be missed as well.
Wrong-way drivers pose an unpredictable, potent threat to motorists along West Virginia's controlled-access highways. While accidents involving drivers traveling headfirst through oncoming traffic are a relatively small portion of accidents on divided highways at approximately 3 percent, multiple studies have shown that the chance of death is far higher than in other situations. The profound danger that this behavior represents to all law-abiding drivers has spurred ongoing investigative efforts by the National Transportation Safety Board and many state agencies.
According to recent studies, a driver who has been awake for 24 hours has the same cognitive impairment as a driver with a blood alcohol level of .10 percent. A driver who is tired generally has a slower reaction time, is less attentive and shows impaired judgment. While the severity of the impairment may vary, even West Virginia drivers who are slightly tired may zone out while extremely tired drivers may fall asleep while driving.