West Virginia’s one-of-a-kind landscape presents several challenges for motorists, especially as travel season draws near and the roads become busier statewide. The unpredictability of interstate travel in West Virginia roads have racked up the total fatality rate way past 1200 accidents with 11 fatalities in 2018. According to more recent statistics, the state’s accident rate is a sobering 14.7 per 100,000 vehicles.
A large percentage of these accidents are reported to happen on just 3 main routes through the Mountain State— I-81, Route 33, and I-79 are reported to be the most dangerous roads in West Virginia.
3 Most Dangerous Roads in WV
While only 26 miles long, Interstate 81 in Berkeley County connecting Virginia to Maryland is in the news often reporting tractor trailer rollovers thanks to numerous blind curves, sharp turns, and the occasional deer popping into the roadway.
Interstate 79 is a main artery that more or less splits the state in half, running 160 miles north from Charleston through Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown before exiting West Virginia and working its way through Pennsylvania all the way to Erie. Due to the regular congestion of traffic from commuters, travelers, and commercial trucks—particularly around Morgantown and Clarksburg—accidents are extremely common on this highway.
Then there is U.S. Route 33 – stretching over 248 miles – with its unsavory reputation for road fatalities. It’s known for so many deadly drop offs and dangerous curves that some of them have their own name – like the infamous “Dead Woman’s Curve” (which even has its own novel!). Runaway trucks have been known to smash into incoming cars, killing the unsuspecting drivers almost instantly. It’s rare, but it can—and does— happen.
Out Of State Travelers & Commercial Truckers
In most cases, West Virginia residents are acutely aware of the perils of their roads and know how and where to exercise caution. However, this may not always be the case with long-distance truckers and drivers from outside the region who have no idea what they’re getting into. They simply plug in the GPS tracking system and follow the system.
It isn’t uncommon for some truckers to ignore mandatory stopping points – often placed near dangerous drop off points. These stops are required so that air-brake equipped trucks don’t lose their ability to check their speed on long descents. Around “Dead Woman’s Curve” for example, there have been witnesses who have seen vehicles break through the safety rails and plunge down several hundred feet off the side of the mountain because they were simply going too fast and couldn’t make the turn.
How to Stay Safe
So what are the things that you can do to stay safe? Here are a few tips that can help you minimize the chances of being involved in an accident on West Virginia roads:
Life is hectic, and we often feel like we’re fighting the clock. However, speeding and distracted driving are the most common causes of automobile accidents nationwide. Slow down. Get off your phone. Pay attention to not only your own vehicle, but also the other vehicles around you as well as the road conditions. Wet or icy roads can be especially dangerous when combined with the twists and turns common to WV roads.
Learn About Your Car
Make sure you understand your car and how it handles. All vehicles are equipped differently and handle turns and changing conditions differently, so familiarize yourself with your car so you are prepared for how it will react if you need to stop or turn quickly. Anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive, and now intelligent lane-assist and other state-of-the-art safety features take some getting used to, so take some time and make sure you are comfortable with your vehicle’s equipment and ability.
Learn How to Recover from a Skid on Slippery Roads
The icy cold and wet weather of winter adds an additional element of risk on windy mountain roads, so it’s good to understand how to recover from slides and skids and regain control of your vehicle. Here’s an excellent guide prepared by AAA to handle slippery roads and avoid fatal accidents.
In Case of Emergency – Call for Help
Accidents happen to even the best of drivers, many times because of someone else’s negligence. If you are involved in an automobile accident, call 911. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Remove yourself from immediate danger, and wait for the police and emergency services to arrive.
Help for Car Accident Victims
At Mountain State Law, we advocate for the victims of car accidents throughout the road systems in north central West Virginia. If you’ve been involved in a car wreck, motorcycle accident, or commercial vehicle collision and you think the driver may have been using their cell phone or performing another unsafe activity that caused them to be distracted, call our team for a free consultation.