Concerning news for drivers in West Virginia: A recent study from Auto Insurance Quote, an online auto insurance quote comparison resource, has determined that the state is among the 10 worst in the country for fatal car accidents. According to the group’s research, each year, there are about 14.58 fatal crashes for every 100,000 residents living in West Virginia, which places it as the 8th worst state by this metric. Mississippi took the unfortunate “top” spot with 20.44 fatal accidents per 100,000 residents.
Interestingly, research from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) seems to suggest that poor weather conditions could be a significant contributor to the number of fatal car accidents in West Virginia. NOAA data shows that there are 1.32 flood-related deaths per 10,000 square kilometers of land in the state, which is the highest rate in the nation. Floods and flash floods can rapidly inundate roads and intersections, catching motorists by surprise and resulting in a traffic-related fatality. In many other situations, motorists misjudge the depth of floodwater on the street and attempt to ford it with their vehicles, which are quickly swept up and away.
Although other roadway and driving hazards like drunk and distracted driving are certainly an issue in West Virginia, the correlation between floods and fatal accidents is too prominent to write off as a coincidence.
How You Can Keep Safe on West Virginia Roads
At Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC, we want all people throughout West Virginia to stay safe and sound whenever they get behind the wheel. To hopefully make this goal a reality, we have compiled some helpful road and driving safety tips here that everyone should know and practice.
- Driving in inclement weather: When the weather is rough, you should slow down to below the posted speed limits and to whatever rate feels safest. Ice, snow, and rain will all muddle up road conditions and make it difficult to come to a complete stop. Slowing down gives you more time to steadily apply the brakes and stop safely.
- Do not cross standing water: As the NOAA data shows, floodwater and standing water are serious hazards in West Virginia. Never try to drive through standing water that you cannot clearly see through to the bottom and accurately gauge its depth. As a general rule, if the water looks to be more than a few inches deep, it should be avoided. Standing water is problematic also because it can flood your engine and stall your vehicle, even if you successfully cross it.
- Check weather forecasts: You can get weather updates for your travels across West Virginia by dialing 511 and connecting with the National Weather Service. Use this service before you depart for any trips that could send you through inclement weather and plan your route accordingly.
- Never distract yourself while driving: As the driver, you must never engage in distracting behavior. Never write or read a text message behind the wheel. Don’t eat when driving and only take a sip of water if you’re stopped in a parking lot or the side of the road. Beware hands-free electronics that are meant to make calling and texts “safe and easy,” too. Many people are just as distracted when using a wireless speaker as they are picking up the phone and talking normally. Speaking of talking, you should also limit the conversations you have with passengers.
- Only drive sober: It is always the right time to advocate for sober driving again. No matter how many times we are all reminded that drunk driving is extremely dangerous and irresponsible, drunk driving deaths continue to be an issue across the nation. Don’t let yourself be one of the people who makes this terrible mistake. Never drive after having any alcohol, including “just one drink.”
- Stick to the speed limits: Another good reminder is to always obey posted speed limits, no matter what other cars around you are doing. Speed limits are carefully calculated based on typical road and traffic conditions along a street or highway. Traveling faster than a posted speed limit increases your risk of crashing into another driver and your risk of losing control of your vehicle around turns and bends. Follow the speed limits – they are for everyone’s benefit!
Protecting Your Family from the Unexpected
Of course, just because you were in a car accident doesn’t mean you were the one who caused it. No matter how safe and mindful you drive, there is always a risk of encountering – and being hit by – another motorist who is not taking safety as seriously. Because the threat of negligent, distracted, speeding, and drunk drivers is constant, you need to take steps to constantly protect yourself and your family from the consequences of a car accident as best you can.
The simplest form of protection you can get is a good auto insurance policy. You should work with your insurance provider to find a policy with the best coverage levels that you feel comfortable affording.
You should also improve your auto insurance by purchasing an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy. UM/UIM insurance will provide damages from your own auto insurance provider if you are hit by a driver with no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages. This policy upgrade can also provide for hit-and-run accidents because a driver who cannot be identified, such as someone who illegally flees the scene of a crash before exchanging information and waiting for first responders, is technically considered to be the same as an uninsured motorist.
A Trusted Local Name in Injury Claims
We hope that this discussion will help you stay safer on West Virginia’s roads. If you are ever in the unfortunate situation that a negligent driver hits you, then please know that our lawyers can help you explore your legal options and possibly file a claim against that driver and their insurance company. We have been helping restore families after bad accidents since 1931, so you can count on Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC to deliver experienced and effective legal counsel when it matters the most.
Call us at (304) 713-2014 or contact us online for a free consultation. Be sure to ask about our contingency fee agreements.