During this upcoming holiday season, many drivers will be coming through West Virginia to visit relatives and friends. Also, interstate freeways are busy any time throughout the year with commercial truck traffic carrying goods to other parts of the country. Any time someone from out of town is driving in an unfamiliar state, the risks of an accident may increase.
In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 332 people were killed in accidents on West Virginia roads. Many of these could have been related to out-of-state travelers, including any of the 46 fatalities involving large truck accidents that year.
Risks of holiday travel
According to USA Today, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve are three of the top holidays for traffic accidents. This is largely because many people travel to see loved ones during the holidays. Fall and winter weather conditions also account for a large portion of accidents. Drinking and driving is another common cause of holiday accidents, especially around the new year.
As pointed out by IAMAT, visitors to an unfamiliar state may be at an increased risk of causing an accident due to the following reasons:
- Fatigue from jet lag or driving long hours
- Distractions, especially when consulting a GPS device or texting on the road
- Disregarding state driving laws, especially speed limits
- Becoming lost or disoriented on unfamiliar roads
- Unfamiliarity with driving a rental car
It may be sobering to learn that the top cause of injuries and fatalities for travelers is car crashes.
Trucking industry dangers
Accidents involving out-of-state drivers are not limited to road trippers, of course. Commercial trucks from around the country are more commonly seen than out-of-state license plates on passenger vehicles. Commercial truck crashes occur on a regular basis in every state. The common factors surrounding truck accidents are much the same as those involving other vehicles - distracted driving, speeding and truck driver fatigue are some of the most prevalent. Truckers may also have difficulty navigating roads they are unfamiliar with or maneuvering through highway construction.
In WDAM News, a few veteran truckers discussed their concerns about interstate travel while paying their respects to a fellow truck driver who had been killed in an accident. A trucker from West Virginia said that they always have to look out for drivers who weave in and out of lanes and try to reach their destinations too quickly. Drowsy driving is still a problem with many truck drivers, but federal regulations now allow truckers to get more sleep and to stand up to trucking companies that try to push them too hard to reach distant destinations.
West Virginia residents who are injured by an out-of-state driver may wish to get in contact with a personal injury attorney. They may not know what to expect about filing a claim against someone who does not reside in the state, and an attorney may be able to advise them on the best procedures.