Although it is anticipated that autonomous vehicles will be safer, it may be a number of years before West Virginia drivers have the opportunity to purchase one. Despite optimistic predictions from industry insiders, several hurdles must be overcome before the cars will be widely available.
Sleepy motorists on West Virginia roads may soon be kept awake by an electronic device designed to vibrate and deliver shocks to a driver who is nodding off behind the whee. Drowsiness is actually one of the biggest threats on the road, and sleepy drivers cause thousands of fatal accidents each year around the country.
It was reported on July 25 that a West Virginia man filed a lawsuit against a transportation company after he alleged that an employee of the company caused an accident. The man also named the driver of the Hiteland Transportation truck as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Road travel is becoming more hazardous in West Virginia and around the country. Traffic accident deaths increased by 7 percent in 2015 after falling steadily for many years, and data released by the National Safety Council on Feb. 15 reveals that the nation's roads were even more deadly in 2016. The safety advocacy organization reports that motor vehicle accidents in the United States claimed 40,200 lives and cost the economy $432.5 billion in 2016, and some road safety experts say that legislators and law enforcement are not doing enough to keep road users safe.
Deaths on the road in West Virginia and across the country could be an additional risk after speed-limit increases, says a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The institute says that increasing speed limits over the past 20 years have taken 33,000 lives in auto crashes.
West Virginia has not been restricted in its ability to set motor vehicle speed limits since the full repeal of the National Maximum Speed Limit by the U.S. Congress. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that tracked increases in speed limits and the number of traffic fatalities found an association between faster traffic and the number of people who die in wrecks.
The trend of lower driver death rates that began in the 1970s may be coming to an end, and motorists in West Virginia and other states may want to take note. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the risk of dying in an accident while operating a late-model vehicle increased in 2015. Preliminary reports indicate that the toll will be higher for 2016 as well.
West Virginia residents may be aware that the Tesla Model S full-sized sedan has been hailed as the safest car ever sold in the United States, but the luxury electric car was bettered by three of its traditionally powered competitors in a series of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests. The IIHS, which conducts safety evaluations on behalf of auto manufacturers, tested six full-sized sedans, and the Tesla Model S was one of three that failed to make it onto the nonprofit organization's list of the safest cars available in America.
While driving can be treacherous in West Virginia during the winter months, the Mountain State's roads actually become more dangerous when temperatures rise and traffic becomes more congested. Holiday weekends are known as a particularly hazardous time to take to the roads, and data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals that July 4 is the deadliest day of the year for drivers. When Travelers Insurance examined personal insurance claims, the company found that accidents, injuries and deaths are more common during the Independence Day holiday period than they are over the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
Basic rules need to be established before driverless cars can use roads in West Virginia or anywhere else in America. This is the opinion of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which also believes that legislation under consideration by the House of Representatives allows too many driverless vehicles to be tested on roadways. A New Jersey congressman said that bills should not move out of committee before getting input from the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.