The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is reporting a decline in highway deaths. The numbers in 2011 were the second lowest on record. 1,291 people were killed in crashes on Pennsylvania roads last year. That number is 33 fewer than in 2010.
Fatal crash statistics improved in several areas. There were fewer alcohol-related deaths along with declines in motorcycle and bicycle fatalities. DUI-related fatalities fell from 417 to 379. That number was the lowest in more than a decade. Motorcycle deaths dropped from 223 to 198 and bicyclist fatalities dropped from 21 to 11. Head on collision deaths dropped to their lowest level in a decade.
Erin Waters of PennDOT says there was an area of concern. Fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers rose from 19 to 29. She says that’s an area where they want to continue emphasizing safety and get that number back down. PennDOT has two new tools, the texting ban and new teen driver law. The teen driver law took effect in late December, the texting ban took effect earlier this month.
Waters says PennDOT invests about 20 million dollars in state and federal funds each year, educating people on safety and helping police enforce the laws. She says the state also focuses on safety improvements to roadways, including center and edge line rumble strips. She says those have reduced some of the crashes involving people crossing over roadways or running off a road and striking a tree.