Good and Bad News on Pennsylvania Highway Deaths

Car Accident

According to experts, there is good news when it comes to 2012 Pennsylvania highway deaths, but that news comes with a warning. Last year, the state recorded its third-lowest number of fatalities. However, officials say that lawmakers need to make big strides if they want that trend to continue.

Pennsylvania saw its lowest number of highway deaths in 2009 with 1,256, the second lowest number occurred in 2011 with 1,286, and there were 1,310 in 2012.

Transportation officials claim that new requirements for young drivers, which took effect in December 2011, led to a decrease in fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-olds (from 66 in 2011 to 44 in 2012). These requirements include:

  • Increasing the amount of required behind-the-wheel-training
  • Limiting the number of allowed passengers in a teen-driven vehicle
  • Making the failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense

In addition, officials say that Pennsylvania's ban on texting while driving helped reduce car accident deaths. State crash data shows that the number of fatal crashes involving texting decreased from 1,152 in 2011 to 1,096 in 2012.

The report also found:

  • A decrease in drunk driving deaths, from 391 in 2011 to 377 in 2012
  • Increases in fatalities involving drivers older than 65
  • Increases in pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities

Despite the positive trends, officials believe that Pennsylvania lawmakers have to do more. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) suggests that PA legislators:

  • Pass a primary seat belt law, giving police the authority to pull a driver over for not wearing a seat belt
  • Ban talking on a cell phone while driving
  • Reinstate the state's repealed motorcycle helmet law

One official from the GHSA said that, "It's going to be hard for Pennsylvania to keep some of these gains unless they go back and take a look at some of their laws."

Source: "2012 Pennsylvania highway deaths increase." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 2, 2013.