The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety — the renowned nonprofit dedicated to “reducing the losses from crashes on the nation’s roads” — recently released a rather disturbing report ranking West Virginia incredibly high for a certain class of motor vehicle accident fatalities.
The motor vehicle accident fatalities in question didn’t involve cars, trucks or even motorcycles, but rather all-terrain vehicles.
Here, the IIHS determined that there were 1,700 ATV rider deaths on public roads throughout the U.S. from 2007 to 2011.
In terms of the sheer number of fatalities during this timeframe, West Virginia came in at number three on the list with 96 fatalities, trailing only Pennsylvania (96) and Kentucky (122). However, when it came to the highest rate of ATV rider deaths, West Virginia actually topped the list with a rate of 105 per 10 million.
Why exactly were the numbers so high for the Mountain State?
According to state law enforcement officials, the high fatality rate can be partly attributed to the fact that West Virginia offers such a diverse range of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom choose to use ATVs as their primary mode of transportation.
However, the predominant factor, they argue, is that state residents — particularly those in rural settings — are simply much more inclined to use their ATVs as stand-ins for automobiles as they are not only cheaper (no tags or insurance, less gas, etc.) to use, but perhaps easier to navigate down the public roads.
It is worth noting that while ATV riders are prohibited by state law from riding along highways and freeways, certain city ordinances do allow them to ride alongside the road.
In light of the above-mentioned numbers — and the fact that alcohol, speeding, and the failure to wear a helmet were all cited as major factors contributing to ATV deaths — West Virginia law enforcement is urging all riders to stay sober when riding, use common sense while behind the handlebars and invest in the proper safety equipment. In addition, they are reminding riders to keep off the public roads as their machines are designed to ride on dirt, not asphalt.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, truck accident or other motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.