Leading Causes of Car Accidents in West Virginia

August 15, 2023

Vehicle accidents often lead to significant injuries and major property damage for residents and visitors to West Virginia. It is important to examine the leading causes of vehicle accidents so that drivers in this state understand what hazards to look out for, as well as tips for possibly modifying our own driving behavior.


Traditionally, speeding is the leading cause of vehicle accident injuries and fatalities across most states in the US. Unfortunately, West Virginia is not good about publishing vehicle accident statistics beyond stating the number of fatalities that occur each year on the roadways.

Information from the National Safety Council shows that, in 2021, speed was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities across the US, with an average of more than 33 people losing their lives each day as a result of speeding.

Distracted Driving

Information presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that nine individuals are killed every day in distracted driving crashes across the US. There are three basic types of distractions that can affect drivers, including:

  • Visual distractions. This refers to drivers taking their eyes off the road
  • Manual distractions. This involves drivers taking their hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive distractions. This includes drivers taking their minds off of driving

Distracted driving crashes can affect drivers and others in rural and urban areas. Some of the leading causes of distracted driving include sending or receiving text messages, answering phone calls, browsing or posting to social media, sending emails, eating or drinking in the car, reaching for items in the vehicle, and more.

Drunk Driving

Information from responsibility.org shows that 21.5% of all traffic fatalities during a recent reporting year in West Virginia were related to alcohol-impaired driving. Further examining this data, we can see that West Virginia has been on the right track as far as reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths, with a 33% decrease in alcohol-related fatalities from 2010 to 2019.

Importantly, those with a higher blood alcohol content level present much more risk on the roadway. In West Virginia during that same reporting year, nearly 68% of all alcohol-impaired driving fatalities involved drivers with a blood alcohol content level of over .15%.

Following Too Closely

When drivers follow others too closely on the roadway, this significantly increases the chance that a rear-end accident will occur. Drivers must leave enough space between their vehicle ban the vehicle in front of them in order to slow down and stop before a collision occurs in the event the front driver slows down suddenly or slams on their brakes.

Even though rear-end accidents are typically not seen as “severe,” the reality is that these incidents could lead to significant injuries for drivers and passengers. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, speak with an experienced car accident attorney in Martinsburg.

Failing to Yield

Every state has right-of-way laws that drivers must adhere to, and these laws help direct the flow of traffic in areas such as stoplights, highway merging areas, intersections, turning right or left at lights, etc. When drivers fail to yield the right of way, this can lead to an increased risk of accidents with other vehicles as well as incidents with motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.


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