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Fatal DUI crashes high in West Virginia

WHEELING, W.Va. -- West Virginia is once again at the top of a list most states wouldn't want to be on.
The mountain state came in fourth in the nation for drugged driving fatalities and deaths as a result of alcohol.
The study was done by a site called drugtreatment.com. The group analyzed an 18-year span using data from the national highway traffic safety administration.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger says that while they do have a lot of DUI arrests, the fatalities related to drunk driving are few in the city.
The chief says many of the county sheriff's departments see more of that, and like the study says, that's basically because of the rural roads.
The group found rural states charted high for drivers with the highest blood alcohol content levels in fatal accidents, noting the lack of public transportation, distance from the bar to the car, and road conditions.
"When you have to negotiate curves, your speed is higher, especially when you're not in the city," Schwertfeger said. "Then your chances of crashing, especially under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are certainly gonna go up."
Schwertfeger says the city of Wheeling doesn't handle a lot of fatal crashes that involve alcohol or drugs, but he says he does see a problem with drug and alcohol abuse.
Schwertfeger says he believes more education may be needed about the negative effects, but also says there are a lot of questions as to why.
"I don't know the answer to that, but it does seem to be, especially narcotics," he said. "It seems to be a bit more of a problem than other areas. And when I say here, I mean the state of West Virginia."
The chief says that although they don't see a lot of deaths caused by drivers under the influence, they do still take an active role in preventing these types of accidents.
"We do a lot of different campaigns, not only drunk driving, but red light enforcement, Target Red, distracted driving, seatbelt, we have a lot of campaigns, three in July, and drunk driving is a large part of that," Schwertfeger said.
South Dakota and North Dakota lead the way in fatalities related to drugs and alcohol.

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