Pennsylvania highway traffic deaths plummeted to a total of 1,208 last year. This marks the lowest number since 1928 when record-keeping began.
Although highway deaths decreased overall, there were a few notable categories with significant decreases. Unbuckled fatalities decreased by 16 percent in 2013 to 425. Speeding-related fatalities dropped by 27 percent to 193. Deaths attributed to single-vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes declined by 13 percent to 566 last year.
There were also 35 fewer fatal crashes involving a drunken driver. This was the lowest number of drunken driver fatalities since 1997 when drunken driving data collection began.
“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,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said in a press release. “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.”
Over the last five years, PennDOT has invested $50 million for safety improvements. Within that budget, simple and low-cost measures such as centerline and edge-line rumble strips were executed. PennDOT also invests about $20 million each year in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts.
Despite overall decreases in highway traffic deaths, there were increases in some categories. There was a 12.2 percent increase in fatal crashes involving distracted drivers. There were 178 deaths in head-on or opposite direction side swipe crashes, a 20.3 percent increase from 2012. Fatal crashes involving drivers ages 78 and older went up 12.7 percent.
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