Fatal Bus Accidents in West Virginia
West Virginia has a population of 1,844,128 with 19,827 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in millions. In 2015 there were 246 fatal crashes with 268 deaths as a result. This translates to 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people or 1.35 deaths per 100,000 VMT. This number is one of the highest in the country. The national averages are 10.9 deaths per 100,000 people, and 1.13 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.
Across the country, there was an 8 percent increase in fatal bus and truck crashes in 2015 over the previous year. Fatalities increased by 26 percent since the low in 2009. However, the number of deaths is still lower than 2005, when the total fatalities were 5,231. The same trend happened with injuries in bus crashes.
The number of reported injuries reached a low in 2009 followed by a 62 percent increase between 2009 and 2015, the most recent reporting period. This information was collected and reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as well as through the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Fatal Crash Data
Of all fatal crashes reported in West Virginia in 2015, 59 percent (157) were the result of single vehicle incidents, and 41 percent (111) were due to multiple vehicle crashes. 147 drivers died because of reported blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08%.
There were 99 occupant deaths due to being unrestrained. It is important to note that city buses typically do not provide seatbelts. Buses are designed for the safety of occupants without the need for these devices in buses that are usually operating at low speeds. The majority of deaths in bus accidents occur to drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved in the accidents.
Most fatal crashes in 2015 occurred in rural locations. Those who died in rural accidents was 190 which is equal to 71 percent of these incidents. Fatalities that occurred in urban crashes totaled 78 equaling 29 percent. The state has a large network of highways and interstates and has 87 miles of West Virginia Turnpike.
The number of deaths on rural roads is often higher than those on city streets. There are several reasons for this. The speeds traveled on rural roads are often higher, and when an accident happens at a high rate of speed, it is more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities. Rural roads may be more poorly lit than other roads and are less likely to be properly cleared when there are severe weather conditions. Additionally, emergency medical attention takes longer for those who are hurt in rural areas, which can cause more serious injuries or fatalities.
Drowsy driving may be a contributing factor in some bus crashes. Traveling long distances or for long periods of time can make driving more dangerous. Drowsy drivers are more likely to make mistakes or misjudgments behind the wheel which can lead to deadly accidents.