Driving a vehicle requires a tremendous amount of care. Failing to operate a vehicle safely can risk your well-being, the well-being of others, and even damage property. Mistakes made behind the wheel sometimes carry serious consequences.

A 2017 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that West Virginia tied Oklahoma for the ninth-most fatal car crashes per 100,000 people. West Virginia’s 16.7 deaths per 100,000 people was 6.3 deaths per 100,000 people higher than the national number for 2017.

Pickup truck drivers were the most common vehicle involved in these fatal crashes and 61 percent of crashes involved a single vehicle.

How can we get better?

These numbers are saddening but they also show that there is room for improvement. Here are a few things you can do to help reach your destination safely:

  • Wear your seatbelt. Forty-five percent of fatal crash victims were not wearing their seatbelts while the seatbelt status of 20 percent of fatal crash victims was unknown. That’s potentially more than half of all fatal crashes involving no seatbelt use. Wearing a seatbelt increases your chances for surviving a crash significantly and prevents things like ejections from the vehicle.
  • Find a sober ride. As many as 1-in-5 drivers killed in crashes were legally drunk. Avoiding drunk driving is easier than ever with the proliferation of ride sharing apps. You should also plan for a safe ride home in case you have too much to drink during a night out.
  • Be extra cautious on rural roads. Two-thirds of all fatal crashes in 2017 happened on rural roads. Yes, accidents occur on urban roads, but rural roads tend to have less lighting, higher speed limits, and animals like deer crossing the road. Limiting distractions and obeying speed limits, especially night, are two great ways to stay safe on rural roads.

2017 was a deadly year for West Virginia roads. We can use this as an opportunity to learn and improve our driving habits to create a safer environment for all drivers.

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