HARRISBURG – Highway deaths in Pennsylvania dropped to 1,468 last year, which marks the fewest fatalities on commonwealth roads in 14 years, said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. PennDOT reported 1,440 traffic deaths in 1994.
“While we are encouraged to see that these numbers are continuing to decline, we know there is much more that can be done to improve highway safety,” Biehler said. “We urge motorists to avoid life-threatening behaviors such as driving impaired, not wearing a seat belt and driving aggressively. Simply, ‘Drive Safe PA.’”
According to PennDOT, fatalities in aggressive driving crashes decreased significantly to 913 from 971 in 2007.
To be more consistent with how the federal government reports aggressive driving crashes, PennDOT now defines a crash as related to aggressive driving only if at least two aggressive driving behaviors are demonstrated. From 2002 to 2007, a driver only had to commit one aggressive driving act for the crash to be categorized as aggressive driving.
Based on the new definition, PennDOT reports aggressive driving related fatalities to be 141, down from 192 in 2007. Since PennDOT launched its aggressive driving enforcement program in 2006, aggressive driving fatalities have declined approximately 35 percent. Fatalities in crashes in which speed was a factor also have fallen to 261, from 385 in 2007.
“Our law enforcement partners have done a tremendous job of targeting high crash areas,” Biehler said. “Also, we hope motorists realize that speeding, running red lights and tailgating are dangerous behaviors that not only put the aggressive driver at risk, but endanger everyone on the road.”
Fatalities involving young drivers and mature drivers also showed a positive trend. PennDOT reported 64 fatalities involving a 16- or 17-year-old driver compared to 101 in 2007. Fatalities involving a driver over the age of 65 dropped to 259 from 268.
PennDOT also reported fatality reductions in intersection crashes from 339 to 291 last year, as well as head-on crashes from 181 to 160 last year.
Although overall traffic deaths did drop, PennDOT showed slight increases in unrestrained, alcohol-related and motorcyclist fatalities. Unrestrained fatalities increased to 567 from 559 in 2007, while alcohol-related fatalities also rose to 531 from 525. Motorcyclist fatalities moved to 236 from 225.
Earlier this year, PennDOT launched its “Drive Safe PA” program, which encourages motorists to practice safe driving habits. Through Drive Safe PA, PennDOT aims to save at least 100 more lives each year on Pennsylvania roads, with the goal of reducing fatalities to 1,150 or less by 2011.
For more information about Drive Safe PA or what you can do to help spread the word about safe driving, contact the PennDOT Press Office at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org. Visit PennDOT online.