PA Highway Fatalities Gain in 2010

Fatalities on Pennsylvania roads increased in 2010 to 1,324 after a 2009 low of 1,256. It seems like a minor increase when you consider that millions of people drive hundreds of millions of miles on Pennsylvania roads every day. So the number 1,324 seems like such a small percentage of total drivers, but every death leaves loved ones hurting and friends and family with pain and questions. So it is no surprise that Pennsylvania officials strive to prevent every fatality and make the roads as safe as possible for licensed drivers and passengers.

Deaths in crashes on Pennsylvania highways climbed to 1,324 in 2010, an increase of 68 from the year before, according to Acting PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E.

Fatality statistics are not simply numbers; they represent the many families that suffered the loss of loved ones on Pennsylvania roads last year. Although there is nothing we can do or say to ease the pain of losing a loved one due to a crash, we will continue to look for the best ways to keep highway travelers safe.

While still too high, modern highway deaths are still well below those reported 20 and 40 years ago. In 1990, there were 1,646 traffic deaths in Pennsylvania. In 1970, there were 2,255 fatalities.

Unbuckled fatalities increased to 524 last year, up from 451 in 2009. The seat-belt use rate in Pennsylvania was 86 percent last year.

Fatalities in crashes that involved a 16- or 17-year-old driver increased from 40 in 2009 to 57 last year. Highway fatalities involving 65-year-old and older drivers dropped from 276 to 266 in the same time period.

Alcohol-related deaths increased from 442 in 2009 to 444 last year. Fatalities in work zones dropped to 21 in 2010 from 23 a year earlier.

Speeding-related and aggressive-driving related deaths also increased last year. Speeding-related deaths jumped from 231 in 2009 to 284 last year while aggressive-driving-related deaths increased from 130 to 168.

Motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths also increased last year. Motorcyclist deaths rose to 223 in 2010 from 204 a year earlier, and bicyclist fatalities increased from 16 to 21 in that same time period.

Operating a vehicle is a responsibility that requires our full attention and nobody should ever take that responsible lightly. Multi-tasking is fine at home or at the workplace, but never while driving — your life and the lives of others depend on your full attention.


With the small percentage of deaths compared to total number of drivers, and the small increase on the overall number from 2009 to 2010 it’s easy to ignore the gain. There should be no concern, unless it were to happen again for 2011. If we find ourselves with another gain of PA fatal accidents for 2011 and start pushing the rate to closer to the 1646 from 1990 do we then begin to question budget cuts and roadway conditions? Only time will tell.