Harrisburg, PA – Traffic deaths in Pennsylvania reached a new low in 2017. PennDOT (The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) says that the number of deaths dropped last year to 1,137, the lowest since record keeping began in 1928, and 51 less than 2016.

This means that our state continues to defy national crash trends by steadily decreasing the number of deaths, while other states’ roadways are actually becoming more dangerous.

The biggest decrease of deaths was in drunk driver crashes, accidents involving pedestrians, and crashes in which people weren’t using their seat belts. This is great news! It means that more people are following the laws and driving carefully.

However, every death means that a person is taken away from their family and friends, and we hope that one day that number can be 0.

So be thoughtful and aware when you drive, don’t text or do other distracting things at the wheel, never drink and drive, and continue to buckle up whenever you get into a vehicle.

“Pennsylvania has continued to defy national crash trends by steadily decreasing the number of deaths on our roadways,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Our biggest priority continues to be getting the public to their destinations safely through educational outreach, the latest innovations, effective enforcement and low-cost safety improvements.”

While the number of highway deaths dropped in many types of crashes, there were significant decreases noted in impaired driver, pedestrian, and unrestrained fatalities. Fatalities in impaired driver crashes dropped from 341 in 2016 to 246 in 2017. Unrestrained fatalities also decreased from 408 in 2016 to 378 last year. There were 150 pedestrian deaths in crashes in 2017 compared to 172 in 2016.

Aside from the year-to- year decline, longer term trends also continue to decrease. For example, compared to 2013, there were 71 fewer total traffic deaths, 203 fewer deaths in crashes involving impaired drivers, and 47 fewer unrestrained deaths.

There were some types of crashes which saw fatality increases in 2017. There were 153 fatalities that occurred in crashes involving drivers aged 75 years or older, up from 132 in 2016. Also, fatalities in red-light running crashes increased to 35 from 28 in 2016. Finally, fatalities in work zone crashes increased from 16 to 19.

The department also recently unveiled additional enhancements to its Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool (PCIT) website, www.dotcrashinfo.pa.gov which uses reportable crash data from law enforcement to assist in reviewing this data. Users can now select a geographic location using a map by using a drawing feature that helps select a specific geographic area, like a public neighborhood, school or other geographic area, so that the map displays the reportable crashes for the selected location.

In addition, from 2013 to 2017, PennDOT has invested more than $395 million in Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds on 458 unique safety projects. During that same timeframe, another $50 million was invested in low-cost safety improvements at approximately 3,600 locations. Examples of low-cost safety countermeasures include centerline and edge-line rumble strips, and signing and pavement markings. PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in federal grant funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.

More information on highway safety and PennDOT’s safety initiatives is available at www.penndot.gov/safety.

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