The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Thursday announced that in 2018 statewide traffic deaths increased to 1,190 from a 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.
Last year, six people lost their lives on roadways in Indiana County, according to records kept by The Indiana Gazette. Already this year, eight people have died on county roads.
“Even one life lost is one too many, and Pennsylvania is committed to moving towards zero deaths,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a news release.
“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 highway deaths increased last year, decreases were noted in single vehicle run-off-the-road crashes (506 in 2017 to 478 in 2018), crashes involving motorcyclists (185 in 2017 to 164 last year), and heavy truck crashes (136 in 2018 to 155 in 2017).
In addition to the 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
• Crashes involving drivers ages 65-74 — 188 fatalities, up from 124 in 2017
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.