Slow Economy and Other Factors Result in Steep Decline in West Virginia Fatal Traffic Accidents

totaled_car.jpgAs hard as this economy has been on all of us, it may have one unexpected benefit: it reduced the number of fatal traffic accidents across the nation to a 61-year low.

The results came from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data of 2010. West Virginia accidents declined 12% from the previous year. Other states had healthy declines as well, such as Nebraska (15%), Montana (14%), Mississippi (8.4%), South Carolina (9.4%), and Utah (3.3%). At first, it was believed that photo radar and automatic ticketing may have been responsible, but there is no evidence showing a correlation between these new devices and the drop in fatal traffic accidents. Here in West Virginia, use of photo radar is prohibited.

Instead, the lingering effects of a poor economy may be responsible. Fewer cars on the road going to work — the fewest since 1949 — means fewer cars to get into accidents. At the same time, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood suggested that there were other factors at work. First, cars in general are safer due to greater improvements in crash avoidance technology. Second, many roads are safer due to improved signs and lighting, and third, more drivers are choosing to wear their seatbelts and to refrain from driving after drinking. Even so, one could argue that those changes have been taking effect for a number of years, and by themselves would not result in such a steep drop in fatalities. The only way to know for certain is to wait and see if the percentage remains low after the economy picks up steam.

While it is encouraging to hear that traffic fatalities are down across the nation, and significantly in West Virginia, it is still often too dangerous on the road. West Virginia has several scenic routes where it becomes easy for the driver to lose focus on the road. Mix that with alcohol, or other poor conditions, and you have an accident that is serious, if not fatal. Operating any vehicle on the road, whether a car or a motorcycle, is a privilege and a responsibility that every driver should take seriously. Yet when you get in an car accident through no fault of your own, you need to know your options.

If you or your loved one has been in a car accident, you should hire a West Virginia car accident attorney to represent you. An experienced attorney would investigate the scene as quickly as possible after the accident, preserve all necessary evidence, and interview witnesses. Once your attorney is able to obtain the evidence, you would file a negligence lawsuit against the one you believe was responsible for the accident. You would claim that he or she had a duty to operate on the roadway as safely as possible. He or she breached this duty by driving carelessly (after drinking alcohol, talking on a cell phone, and more). The breach caused your injury, and your damage was anything from a stiff neck to a shattered leg or spine. In a negligence suit such as this, if you are successful, the usual award is “damages,” a monetary award meant to cover medical bills and pain and suffering. We at the Wolfe Law Firm have been representing car accident victims for more than two decades. If you were just in a car accident and need help, contact our firm today.