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Why Do Car Accidents Happen?

Posted in Car accident on June 27, 2022

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. Though these accidents may occur in limitless scenarios, some causes of West Virginia car accidents are more common than others. Being aware of the top causes of car accidents in your state and city can help you be on the lookout for warning signs that you’re about to get into a collision, such as a reckless or distracted driver. The following are some of the leading causes of auto accidents based on crash statistics in West Virginia.


Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents. Speeding refers not only to exceeding the posted speed limit but driving at an excessive speed for the conditions. Drivers have a responsibility to reduce their speeds for safety reasons, such as in inclement weather or a work zone. A speeding driver often cannot stop in time to prevent a collision when there are changing roadway situations, such as another driver suddenly stopping or a child darting into the road.

Drivers who speed or race each other are also more likely to lose control of their motor vehicles. West Virginia is home to scenic, winding roads – which can become deadly when there’s a speeding driver in the other lane. Even going a few miles over the speed limit can exponentially increase your likelihood of being in a crash, as well as sustaining serious or life-threatening injuries. Always drive the posted speed limit and be sure to reduce your speed in dangerous road conditions.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the deadliest driver behaviors in West Virginia. Despite public awareness efforts, distracted driving continues to pose a threat to all drivers on the road. People readily associate distracted driving with cell phone use, but actually it encompasses any activity that takes your attention from the road. Some examples include:

  • Eating/drinking
  • Playing with the radio
  • Perusing social media networks
  • Texting
  • Looking at the navigation system

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving killed 3,142 people in 2020 – accounting for 8 percent of all fatal accidents. The NHTSA reports that reading a text takes about five seconds. Traveling at speeds of 55 miles per hour, you could travel the length of a football field during this time – all while not paying attention to your surroundings. Always keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on driving.

Driving Under the Influence

Drunk driving accidents claim thousands of lives and lead to even more injuries each year. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 144 drivers with blood alcohol concentration levels above the legal limit of 0.08 percent were killed in West Virginia in 2020. Operating under the influence does not apply to just illegal drugs or alcohol – even people who take prescription medications that alter their judgment may be guilty of negligence if they cause a crash.

Drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs commit gross negligence that can have serious consequences – not only for themselves but for everyone with whom they share the road. Driving while drunk or impaired can interfere with a driver’s judgment, decision-making, reaction times, alertness, physical strength and reflexes. In addition, drunk drivers are more likely to behave recklessly behind the wheel, such as by racing or driving the wrong way.

Breaking Traffic Laws and Roadway Rules

Too many drivers in West Virginia are guilty of violating traffic laws and roadway rules. A driver may break the law for many reasons, such as trying to get to a destination faster or in a bout of road rage. Other drivers negligently or unintentionally break the rules, such as young, inexperienced and incompetent drivers. Common traffic offenses that result in car accidents are:

  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Failing to leave enough following distance (tailgating)
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Merging on top of another driver
  • Making an illegal turn or U-turn
  • Motorcycle lane-splitting

Any type of traffic infraction, big or small, can increase the odds of a car accident. Traffic laws are in place in West Virginia for a reason – to keep all road users safe and prevent harmful accidents. If a driver breaks the rules and causes a crash, he or she will be liable for the damages.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is significantly underreported, but is a factor in numerous car collisions and truck accidents in West Virginia each year. Driving drowsy is classified as the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue, which can be attributed to medications, lack of sleep, sleep disorders, shift work or alcohol.

Drowsy drivers have been compared to drunk drivers in terms of the threat that they present to others on the road. A drowsy driver does not have the facilities to properly pay attention to the road or react to potential crash risks. Truck drivers are especially likely to drive while tired due to odd sleep schedules, long solo and overnight drives, and medical conditions such as sleep apnea.

Inclement Weather

West Virginia sees its fair share of inclement weather, from ice and snow to freezing rain and torrential storms. Even high winds can cause car accidents by impacting a car’s control. Inclement weather conditions are a common cause of auto accidents. In West Virginia, 146 single-vehicle car accidents were reported in 2020. Many of these accidents were caused by poor weather that made the driver lose control of his or her vehicle.

Keep yourself safe in inclement weather by staying home if a bad storm is in the forecast. If you must drive in inclement weather, prepare your vehicle by checking your tire pressure, windshield wipers and lights. Reduce your speed and prepare to come to a stop at a moment’s notice. If you’re driving through fog, use your low beams to prevent your headlights from reflecting off the fog. In rain or snow, use your normal headlights and windshield wipers.

If you get injured in a car accident in West Virginia, contact a car accident attorney at Manchin Injury Law Group for a free consultation. We can help you determine the cause of your collision. Call now.