Pennsylvania Traffic Deaths Rose 6% During 2020

HARRISBURG PA – Although 1,129 people lost their lives during 2020 as a result of traffic-related incidents across Pennsylvania, the death rate was the second-lowest in state history, Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday (April 20, 2021). Those numbers should continue trending downward in the future, they added.

“Even one life lost is one too many,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian acknowledged, as she reaffirmed Pennsylvania’s commitment to move toward zero deaths. “Our biggest priority continues to be safe travel regardless of the mode you use.” It’s looking “to decrease fatalities through educational outreach, the latest innovations, effective enforcement, and low-cost safety improvements,” she said.

Pennsylvania roadway deaths were up about 6 percent in 2020, from the record-lowest total of 1,059 deaths in 2019. This increase is in line with a recently released report from the National Safety Council, the agency reported, which shows preliminary data that estimates national motor-vehicle deaths were up 8 percent.

Within the 2020 statistics, the state indicated:

  • The number of deaths declined in crashes involving drivers age 65 and older. Fatalities in that bracket dropped from 281 during 2019, to 243 in 2020;
  • Also lower during the past year were head-on and opposite-direction side swipes. Those fatalities also decreased from 158 in 2019, to 128 last year; and
  • Deaths in crashes involving distracted drivers went down too. There were 62 fatalities in 2019 crashes involving distracted drivers, compared to 47 in 2020.

On the other hand, four different types of crashes experienced an increase in fatalities during 2020. They involved:

  • Single vehicles run off the road, 506 fatalities, up from 447 in 2019;
  • Local roads, 224, up from 186 in 2019;
  • Motorcycles, 217, fatalities, up from 174 in 2019; and
  • Speeding, 188, up from 162 in 2019.

According to national data, over 90 percent of crashes are caused by driver behavior.

Photo by The Post