Take Me Home Safely - WV Ranks 47th in Survey

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Sep 07, 2010 in Car Accidents

An annual study of the nation's roads was released this week, and West Virginia did not fare well in an important category. With 1.83 highway fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles, the state's roads were the third most dangerous in the country. On average, the rate was 1.253 fatalities, and the lowest rate, in Massachusetts, was 0.67.

The survey ranked the states' road conditions, expenditures and traffic congestion, among other factors. West Virginia's overall ranking was 30, down three spots from the year before. The rankings are based on car accident and other accummulated data from 2008, the most recent year for which totals are available.

The state's worst ranking was in "narrow rural lanes." The category measures miles of state roads with lanes less than 12 feet wide. National design standards state that 12 feet is the narrowest a lane can be for drivers to see far enough ahead to drive safely. Nationally, about 9.62 percent of state roads had narrow lanes. West Virginia's roads, ranking 48th, had just over 35 percent. 

While the country's overall road conditions improved in 2008, researchers suggested that the lousy economy was reflected in disbursements and administrative costs. West Virginia spent just $7,746 per mile on maintenance disbursements, the second lowest in the country. Nationally, the average was just shy of $23,000 per mile. In administrative costs, West Virginia ranked sixth, spending less than 44 states.

Yet another disturbing ranking is in the state's "deficient or functionally obsolete bridges." Following the highway bridge collapse in Minneapolis in 2007, the federal government mandated bridge inspections every two years. States receive federal funds to repair bridges rated "deficient." More than 36 percent of West Virginia's bridges were found deficient, compared to the 23.72 percent national average. The state was more than 15 percentage points lower than Rhode Island, which ranked 50th.

The state's economic woes have dictated funding cuts, and if these results reflect the consequences they are dire indeed. The one bright spot in a state where, it seems, the roads are ripe for accidents? You're extremely unlikely to get stuck in traffic in West Virginia's urban areas.

Resource: Reason Foundation "19th Annual Highway Report" 9/2/10

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