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West Virginia ranks poorly in recent seat belt study

If you happen to be driving a car in West Virginia, buckle up: according to a recent study, West Virginia has the nation's seventh-highest death rate involving accidents and violence at 19.8%, compared with the national average of 12.4%. The state also rated poorly on seat belt use and non-fatal motor vehicle injuries.

The authors of the report advocate for enforcement of various research-based injury prevention policies to lower car accidents, and West Virginia has taken heed: starting in July, texting while driving will become a primary offense. Talking on a cell phone will be a secondary driving offense until July 2013, when it elevates to a primary offense. Law makers declined to pass a bill to make seat belt violations a primary offense, however.

The report comes during a national initiative to improve seat belt use. Earlier in May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched the Department of Transportation's (DOT) 2012 "Click It or Ticket" seat belt enforcement mobilization effort.

The "Click It or Ticket" campaign, running May 21 to June 3, includes both advertisements and traffic citations. NHTSA data shows that more than three million seat belt citations have been issued nationwide during the annual crackdowns over the past five years. Despite these efforts, NHTSA studies show seat belt use among drivers at only 84 percent for 2011.

While seat belts can help reduce injuries, they cannot prevent accidents caused by negligent drivers. If you were in an accident caused by another driver's failure to drive safely, an attorney can help you prepare a claim or lawsuit and obtain the recovery you deserve.

Source: The Marietta Times, "W.Va. 7th in death rates for accidents, violence," May 23, 2012

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Stephen P. New, Attorney at Law
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