LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Thomas William Sheridan Esquire | Mar 4, 2011

Fatalities on Pennsylvania Highways are Increasing

In 2010, 1,324 people died on roads and highways in Pennsylvania, representing a 5% increase over 2009.

Each of these fatal accidents is associated with a family that has lost a loved one. A 5% increase in the number of highway deaths warrants greater attention to highway safety and the cause of accidents.

Of the 1,324 fatalities in Pennsylvania highway accidents last year, 524 were not wearing seatbelts. This accounts for nearly 40% of all fatal accidents on Pennsylvania roads and highways. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimates that the seat-belt use rate in Pennsylvania was 86% last year. If you fail to wear your seatbelt and are involved in an accident, you are at a significantly greater risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries. Seatbelt use is critical to your safety when you are in a car.

Young drivers are also at an increased risk of being involved in fatal accidents. Fatal crashes involving 16 and 17 year old drivers increased by 43% in 2010 with a total of 57 fatalities. Be sure that your young drivers are safe. Do not allow your children to use cell phones while driving. Be sure that young drivers pay attention at all times and obey the speed limit.

Fatal highway accidents involving drivers over 65 years of age decreased by 4% last year, but the total number of fatalities involving elderly drivers was 266. This amounts to 20% of all fatal accidents and is an alarming statistic. The number of fatal accidents involving drivers who were drinking increased to 444 in 2010. Fatal accidents involving drivers who were drinking accounted for one-third of all fatal accidents in Pennsylvania in 2010. Clearly, drinking and driving substantially increases the risk of fatal accidents.

The number of fatal accidents arising from drivers who were speeding or driving aggressively rose by 23% in 2010 to a total number of fatalities of 284. These types of accidents account for 21% of all fatal accidents on Pennsylvania roadways. Speeding and aggressive driving is dangerous and results in a significant number of fatal accident on the Pennsylvania highways.

There were 223 fatal motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania in 2010. This was a 9% increase in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents from 2009. Motorcycle operators are clearly at an increased risk of being involved in fatal accidents on Pennsylvania roadways. Be sure to yield to motorcycles on the road

There were 156 fatal accidents in 2010 involving heavy trucks on Pennsylvania roadways. This was a 15% increase in the number of fatal accidents involving heavy trucks. Heavy truck accidents account for almost 12% of all fatal accidents on Pennsylvania highways. Pennsylvania is consistently in the top five states in the United States with the highest number of fatal truck accidents.

Safe driving is the responsibility of each and every driver on the roadways. Operating a vehicle is a very serious task that requires consistent and complete attention. All drivers need to put down their phones while driving, refrain from texting or emailing while driving, and devote their full attention to the roadway and others on it. Distracted drivers are responsible for a significant number of accidents in Pennsylvania. No one should ever take their responsibility for driving a car lightly. In order to be safe on the roadways, focus all of your attention on driving because your life and the lives of others depend upon it.

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