What Are the Most Dangerous Roads in West Virginia to Watch Out For?
Driver negligence is the biggest cause of car crashes and truck accidents in West Virginia. That includes things like texting while driving, speeding, and following vehicles too closely. However, poor roadway design and difficult terrain can also be factors leading to crashes.
The hills and country roads of West Virginia can make it a particularly dangerous place to travel at times. Knowing which West Virginia roads and highways are the most dangerous will alert you to drive more defensively on these road sections and help keep you safe.
A study conducted in 2022 investigated the most dangerous roads in West Virginia. Below are some highlights of that study, commentary, and where some of the most dangerous stretches of road and highway are.
The Deadliest Mile in West Virginia – I-77 Near Camp Creek
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one mile of road in West Virginia claimed more lives from 2000 to 2019 than any other. It’s on I-77 in Mercer County near Camp Creek.
Like many WV roads, this section has an enormous cliff on one side and a big drop-off on the other. It’s also steeply graded. Despite efforts at adding safety features like reducing the speed limit and adding flashing lights, 11 people died on this single mile from 2000 to 2019.
There is a major curve here that’s well-marked with sharp turn signs. It’s also not very far from the border with Virginia. Sharp curves and interstate traffic, especially out-of-state truckers, create a dangerous situation. WV residents quickly get used to driving on curvy mountain roads, but out-of-state drivers may not have experience and speed too quickly around curves.
Other Dangerous Stretches of Roads and Highways in West Virginia
Below are some of the other most dangerous stretches of road in West Virginia.
I-64 Between Scott Depot and Nitro, WV – Exits 40 and 45
This section of Interstate 64 saw 22 fatalities between 2000 and 2019. That’s over one death a year.
Recent Google Street images show that this section of the road is undergoing expansion. According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, they plan to finish this expansion section in the fall of 2024. Their eventual goal is to give I-64 six lanes from Charleston to Teays Valley, as well as add more westbound lanes from Nitro to St. Albans.
US-60 – St. Albans to South Charleston, WV
There were 22 fatal crashes on US-60, from around St. Albans to South Charleston, West Virginia, between 2000 and 2019, making it one of the most dangerous stretches of roads in West Virginia. As car accident lawyers based in Charleston, WV, we know firsthand how dangerous this stretch is. Fortunately, I-64 provides an alternate route.
Here’s a detailed list of other dangerous roads and intersections in the Charleston, West Virginia area.
I-81 Between Exits 8 and 13 – Martinsburg, WV
This section of highway runs by Martinsburg and is close to the Virginia border. The combination of city traffic, large trucks, and swiftly rising grades make the road dangerous. What makes this road even more deadly is truckers speeding through the area. In fact, fatal truck accidents are on the rise in West Virginia and throughout the country.
All of I-81 in West Virginia is quite dangerous despite being so short. There are a lot of blind curves and animals that surprise drivers. Even though it’s only 26 miles long, this section of road is often in the news for rollover accidents.
WV-16 Between Cross St. and Maxwell Hill Road in Beckley
This section of road in Beckley saw 23 deaths and 22 fatal accidents in 2000-2019, and it’s easy to see why. The road rapidly narrows down from four lanes to two and goes through several blind curves through the middle of town. There are also several awkward places where cars have to merge in and out.
Unfortunately, despite good signage, widening this road would be incredibly difficult. There are many businesses close to the sides of the road. There’s no room to add more lanes without tearing down buildings.
The Worst Maintained West Virginia Roads
Although not always mentioned in the context of car accident fatalities, Jakes Run Road near Core from Rt 7 to McCurdysville, WV, and Mileground, Morgantown (US-119) have been cited among the worst-maintained roads in West Virginia, which could contribute to its hazardous conditions (Reddit).
Special Dangers on West Virginia’s Rural Roads
Most fatal crashes happen on rural roads than on interstates nationwide, and West Virginia rural roads are especially dangerous. There are several reasons for this:
- Poor design compared to interstates and city roads
- Seatbelt use is lower
- People are more likely to speed
- Further away from medical help
- Poor visibility
- Poor safety features like shoulders and guardrails
- Water problems like washouts or flooding
- Farm equipment on the road
- Increased chance of rollovers because of greater curves
Of these, speeding and not wearing a seat belt are the top causes of fatal accidents. Just by buckling up and slowing down, you increase your chances of survival on any road. Also, from a compensation standpoint, crashing while speeding or not wearing a seat belt will lower your chances of winning and the amount of compensation you could get.
Why are West Virginia Roads so Dangerous?
West Virginia is known for two things that make our roads especially dangerous. First, we’re deep in the Appalachian Mountain range, so the terrain is curvy and difficult to drive on in places. West Virginia is the mountain state! Another factor is the coal, logging, oil and gas industries are important to West Virginia’s economy. Unfortunately, that also means more large truck accidents and work injuries.
We’re also a wet state. According to the National Centers for Environment Information, places in West Virginia can get between 3’-6’ of precipitation each year and it rains or snows at least a third of the year.
The wet conditions and difficult terrain also make it hard and expensive for state and local governments to upgrade or repair the roads and bridges. According to the Annual Highway Report published by Reason magazine, here’s how our road system stacks up:
- 30th best highway system in the nation
- 8th worst state for traffic
- Top state in spending per mile for road maintenance
- 3rd in capital and bridge costs per mile
- 49th worst in structurally deficient bridges (21% are deficient)
- In the bottom 20 for interstate pavement condition
- In the bottom 5 for rural arterial roads
Despite heavy investment in the road system, our roads and bridges are still suffering especially on more rural roads. There’s no simple solution to this considering the state is already spending the most per mile than any other state. It’s tough to build here!
These findings underscore the importance of exercising caution while driving on West Virginia’s roads. As an organization committed to the well-being of our clients and community, we stress the significance of being informed and prepared.
Understanding the risks associated with these dangerous roads and adopting safe driving practices can significantly reduce the likelihood of accidents. Always prioritize safety by staying alert, respecting speed limits, and being mindful of weather conditions that can affect road safety. Together, we can work towards safer travels across West Virginia’s beautiful landscape.
Free Consultation With a Top-Rated WV Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured in a West Virginia auto accident, we encourage you to call one of our top-rated accident lawyers for a free and confidential consultation. Our toll-free number is 877-943-9378 (WEST). There is also No Fee unless and until you recover compensation.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.