There were 1,310 people killed in crashes on Pennsylvania roads last year, the third-lowest number on record and 24 more than in 2011. Areas of highway safety, toughened by laws Governor Tom Corbett has signed, also saw reductions in fatalities and crashes.
PennDOT data from police reports also shows that there were 124,062 crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2012, a decrease from 125,322 in 2011 and fewer than the 144,542 Pennsylvania crashes 15 years ago.
“While highway fatalities increased last year, we’re encouraged that historically, deaths on our roadways are trending downward. However, our highway safety mission will continue,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “Each life lost on our highways is someone’s relative or loved one, and we keep that in the forefront of our minds when we pursue engineering, education and enforcement tactics aimed at keeping our roads safe.”
Following the December 2011 implementation of increased driving safety requirements for young drivers, signed into law by Corbett, fatalities in crashes involving a 16- or 17-year-old driver decreased to 44, 22 fewer than in 2011 and significantly fewer than the 133 such fatalities 15 years ago. The law increased behind-the-wheel training requirements, placed a limit on the number of passengers a young driver can transport and made not wearing a seat belt a primary offense for young drivers.
Corbett also signed into law a ban on text-based communication while driving, which went into effect in March 2012. PennDOT crash data shows that crashes involving drivers using phones decreased from 1,152 in 2011 to 1,096 in 2012. There were eight fatalities in those crashes and 57 fatalities in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2012.
PennDOT has invested $50 million over the last five years for safety improvements at about 4,000 locations. These include low-cost safety measures such as centerline and edge-line rumble strips; curve-related treatments; sight-distance and intersection improvements; and removing frequently hit trees and other fixed objects. PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.
Fatalities in crashes involving a drinking driver decreased from 391 in 2011 to 377 in 2012, the lowest number in more than 10 years. There were 57 fatalities in crashes involving distracted drivers, a decrease from 59 in 2011.
Twenty-five fewer people died in hit-guiderail crashes last year, with 137 such fatalities in 2012 and 162 in 2011. Fatalities in running-red-light crashes declined from 33 in 2011 to 21 in 2012.
Though many fatal crash categories saw fewer fatalities in 2012, there were increases in some areas. Fatalities in crashes involving drivers 65 years-old or older increased from 244 in 2011 to 276 in 2012. Pedestrian fatalities increased to 168 in 2012 from 149 in 2011, and motorcyclist fatalities increased to 210 from 199 in that time period.
The lowest number of traffic fatalities ever recorded in Pennsylvania occurred in 2009, when there were 1,256 fatalities.
For more information on PennDOT’s safety initiatives, visit www.JustDrivePA.com.