HARRISBURG – The number of highway deaths on Pennsylvania roads tumbled to a record low last year when 1,208 were recorded, the lowest number since recordkeeping began in 1928, according to PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch.
“Though Pennsylvania has made significant progress in reducing highway crashes and deaths, our efforts to ensure that all travelers reach their destinations safely will remain paramount,” Schoch said. “However, our efforts cannot reach their potential if drivers refuse to do their part by observing traffic laws and always using common sense on our roads.”
While the number of highway deaths dropped in many types of crashes, there were significant decreases noted in unbuckled, speeding and single-vehicle run-off-the-road related deaths. Unbuckled fatalities dropped from 503 in 2012 to 425. Speeding-related fatalities also decreased from 262 in 2012 to 193 last year. Deaths attributed to single-vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes declined to 566, down from 648 in 2012.
Another area where significant numbers were noted includes fatalities in crashes involving a drinking driver, which decreased from 377 in 2012 to 342 last year, the lowest number since 1997 when this data collection began.
“Regardless of the record-low number of highway deaths recorded this year, we must never forget that these aren’t just random statistics, but rather they were somebody’s loved ones,” Schoch said. “With that, we turn our attention to those crash areas where Pennsylvania saw an increase in fatalities.”
Fatalities increased in some types of crashes, including those involving distracted drivers and in head-on or opposite direction side swipe crashes. There were 64 fatalities in crashes involving distracted drivers, up from 57 in 2012. Also, deaths in head-on or opposite direction side swipe crashes increased to 178 up from 148 in 2012.
PennDOT has invested $50 million over the last five years for safety improvements at approximately 4,000 locations. These include low-cost safety measures such as centerline and edge-line rumble strips.
PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.
Fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 75 and older also increased to 142 from 126 in 2012. To help address safe driving in this age group, PennDOT offers information on approved Mature Driver Improvement courses available statewide, a brochure on talking with mature drivers and other safety tips at its highway safety information Web site, www.JustDrivePA.com.