CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – West Virginia is the eighth most dangerous state for drivers, according to a new study by Esurance, an auto insurance company. The study states that, despite common belief, rural and country roads have a higher chance of fatal car crashes.

The study found that nationwide there was a 13 percent increase in crash fatalities between 2013 and 2017. Although there was a slight dip in crash fatalities between 2016 and 2017, the difference between 2013 and 2017 is more than 4,000 fatalities.

Esurance noticed that the states that topped the list of most fatalities per 100,000 residents were those that had mostly rural roads such as Mississippi, Wyoming and South Carolina.

The following are some of the reasons Esurance believes that rural roads are more dangerous:

  • A lack in police officers to patrol the roads in order to prevent drunk driving, distracted driving and other driving violations.
  • Speed limits are higher than city roads.
  • There are fewer street lamps or traffic lights.
  • There’s a greater chance of coming across livestock or wild animals on the road.
  • Roads might be unpaved or have massive potholes and there’s usually not a shoulder to pull over onto.

In West Virginia, 28 percent of roadway fatalities were due to speeding and 13 percent were due to distracted driving.

West Virginia might be one of the most dangerous states for drivers, but they also rank high on the list of states that are the most improved for driving safety.

States ranked by percentage increase or decrease in fatalities from 2013 to 2017

States that have become less safe for driversPercentage increase in fatal crashesStates that have become more safe for driversPercentage decrease in fatal crashes
Alaska+54.3%New Hampshire-25.6%
Washington DC+45.2%North Dakota-25.1%
Oregon+32.9%New York-17.4%
Rhode Island+26.9%West Virginia-6.9%
Colorado+26.2%South Dakota-6.7%
South Carolina+22.2%Oklahoma-5.4%

Esurance said that new traffic laws contributed to a few of the state’s decreases, including Montana and New York. In contrast, states that have become less safe could have contributing factors like increased speed limits and lack of resources for law enforcement.

Those interested in the full study and to learn more about the study here.