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West Virginia Traffic Deaths Compared

ambulance on emergency car in motion blur

Traffic deaths are regrettable, avoidable, and tragic, yet they also seem to be a fact of life everywhere in the United States. When comparing data state by state, we see that a lot of factors influence how dangerous and deadly driving can be in a particular state. Some of those factors, such as the quality of roads, weather, and topography, lean toward making West Virginia less safe than other places. How dangerous is it here? Below we look at fatal crash data in West Virginia compared to the nation, using the most recent (2021) data gathered from the U.S. Department of Transportation and reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you have been injured in a crash or lost a loved one in a fatal car accident in West Virginia, contact Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson for support from a team of experienced and dedicated Martinsburg personal injury lawyers.

Total Fatal Crashes in West Virginia

Nationwide 42,939 people lost their lives in 39,508 fatal crashes in 2021. For comparison purposes, this breaks down to 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.37 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled. In West Virginia that year, 280 people died in 257 fatal accidents, which comes to 15.7 deaths per 100,000 population and 1.74 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles. These figures put West Virginia well above the national average in both measures of traffic deaths.

Deaths by Road User

This statistic looks at crash victims according to their classification as an occupant of a car, pickup or SUV, or large truck, or a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian. In West Virginia, most people killed were occupants of pickup trucks and SUVs (35%), followed by car occupants (29%). Pedestrians (13%) and motorcyclists (10%) followed. Only two percent of traffic deaths in WV were large truck occupants, and there were no bicyclist deaths reported that year. The remainder of road users were other types or not known. Nationally, more car occupants are killed than any other category of road user.

Type of Crash

Surprisingly, a majority (52%) of fatalities in the country happened in single-vehicle crashes as opposed to multiple-vehicle collisions. This was most pronounced in Montana and Hawaii, where single-vehicle crashes accounted for 70% of traffic deaths. Nebraska, meanwhile, led the nation with the highest percentage (57%) of multi-vehicle traffic deaths. West Virginia was closer to the national average, with 56% of deaths occurring in single-vehicle crashes.

Alcohol-Involved Crashes

The dangers of drinking and driving can never be overstated, and nationally it is estimated that 30% of drivers who lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2021 had a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. At 21%, West Virginia had the lowest rate of drunk driver fatalities in the country. While that is a laudable ranking for West Virginia, with 30 lives lost to drunk driving in one year, that’s 30 lives too many.

Restraint Use

Seat belt use in West Virginia is mandatory for any back-seat passenger under 18 years old and any front-seat passenger regardless of age. Every state except New Hampshire (“Live Free or Die,” they say) has mandatory seat belt laws for front-seat occupants, and the majority of states require adults in rear seats to wear them as well. Usage of front-seat restraints hovers at 90% nationwide, ranging from 76% in New Hampshire to 97% in California, with West Virginia typical of the country as a whole at 88%. Among the cases where use of restraints is known, 40% of fatalities in West Virginia were unrestrained and 42% restrained, also comparable to national figures.

Rural v. Urban

As you might suspect, the geography of a state largely influences how many crash deaths occur in urban versus rural areas. Forty percent of motor vehicle crash deaths nationally took place in rural areas in 2021. Rural crash fatalities were highest in Vermont, South Dakota and Wyoming and lowest in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey. In rural West Virginia, 62% of fatal accidents happened in rural areas, compared to 38% in places designated as urban.

Contact Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson After a Fatal or Non-fatal Car Accident in West Virginia

Crashes that cause serious injury or death are painful, traumatic, and financially devastating for everyone involved. The Martinsburg personal injury lawyers at Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson can help you deal with the physical pain, emotional hurt and financial strain by holding negligent drivers accountable, delivering justice and much-needed compensation. Call 304-263-0900 or 800-903-0901 for a no-cost case evaluation to find out how we can help.

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