PennDOT Says Traffic Deaths on the Rise

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced that in 2018, statewide traffic deaths increased to 1,190 from the record low of 1,137 in 2017.

Last year was the third-lowest number of highway fatalities recorded and overall fatalities continue to trend downward. 

“Even one life lost is one too many, and Pennsylvania is committed to moving towards zero deaths,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “Our biggest priority continues to be safe travel regardless of the mode you use, and we continue to work with our partners to decrease fatalities through education and outreach.”

While the overall number of statewide highway deaths increased last year, decreases were noted in single vehicle run-off-the-road crashes, crashes involving motorcyclists, and heavy truck crashes. Fatalities in single vehicle run-off-the-road crashes dropped from 506 in 2017 to 478 in 2018. Motorcyclist
fatalities also decreased from 185 in 2017 to 164 last year. There were 136 fatalities in 2018 crashes involving heavy trucks compared to 155 in 2017.

In addition to the statewide year-to-year decline, longer-term trends also continue to decrease. For example, compared to 2014, there were five fewer total traffic deaths, 37 fewer deaths in crashes involving impaired drivers, and 56 fewer fatalities in single vehicle run-off-the-road crashes

The following crash types saw fatality increases in 2018 Crashes involving drug- or alcohol-impaired drivers – 355 fatalities, up from 246 in 2017; Crashes involving pedestrians – 201 fatalities, up from 150 in 2017; and Crashes involving drivers aged 65-74 – 188 fatalities, up from 124 in 2017.

Fatality statistics in 2018 for District 10 are as follows:

Armstrong: 9 fatalities, 56% of which were not wearing a seatbelt; 44% of which were alcohol related deaths

Butler: 18 fatalities, 33% of which were motorcyclists, 67% of which involved a 65+ year old driver.

Clarion: 8 fatalities, 63% of which were speeding crashes, 63% of which involved impaired drivers.

Indiana: 10 fatalities, 30% of which involved impaired drivers.

Jefferson: 5 fatalities, 80% of which were not wearing a seatbelt.

According to national data, over 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver behavior. For this reason, PennDOT focuses on data trends to drive enforcement and education improvements and invests $18 million annually in federal grant funds statewide to support these behavioral safety programs.

In addition to behavioral safety, PennDOT focuses on infrastructure improvements to roadways to further reduce fatalities and serious injuries. More than $470 million in Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds has been invested on 356 unique safety projects from 2014 to 2018. During that same timeframe, another $50 million of state funds was invested in low-cost safety improvements at approximately 3,000 locations. Examples of low-cost safety countermeasures include centerline and
edge-line rumble strips and signing and pavement markings.

For more information on reportable crash data, visit PennDOT’s Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool (PCIT) website, or for additional information on the department’s highway safety initiatives, visit