Pennsylvania winters can be a bad time for car accidents, what with ice and snow causing tires to lose traction and cars to spin out of control. Regardless of the weather, though, everyone is expected to practice safe driving. There are a few tips to stay safe on the road.
Safety advocates have warned that the changing of the clocks may make Pennsylvania roadways more dangerous. As Daylight Savings Time begins across the United States, the time change may introduce disruption in sleep patterns that could contribute to drowsy driving and other risks on the roads, warns the American Automobile Association. While the clock reset takes place at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday to minimize disruption, the AAA said that the time change could disturb the sleep-wake cycle. At the same time, the clock change accompanies some of the other risks that come along with the winter season.
Pennsylvania drivers will be interested in the slight decrease in fatalities from traffic accidents for the second year in a row. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities fell 2.4% in 2018, after significant increases in 2015 and 2016.
Some Pennsylvania drivers are wary of sharing the road with teens, especially because they are inexperienced and may have a tendency to drive more erratically. Indeed, the higher car insurance rates paid by teens and their parents reflect their higher likelihood of involvement in a crash. However, inexperienced drivers like teens have to develop their skills by driving, and practicing behind the wheel is often the best way to build their skills. Part of that practice includes learning to observe safe driving practices while operating a vehicle, of course.
Passing an accident scene where firefighters, police or emergency medical technicians are working is an inevitable part of Pennsylvania driving. These first responders face a heightened risk of injury or death when working on the sides of roads because of distracted drivers. A poll sponsored by the National Safety Council and Emergency Responder Safety Institute identified driver behaviors that create hazards for people responding to accident scenes.
Truckers in Pennsylvania should know that the transport and material moving industry is high among the list of industries impacted by sleep deprivation. In a study from Ball State University that involved some 150,000 working adults in the U.S., 41% of respondents in this industry claimed to sleep less than seven hours a night.
Road rage incidents are becoming alarmingly common in Pennsylvania and around the country. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that the number of fatal accidents involving angry and aggressive drivers rose from just 80 in 2006 to more than 450 in 2015, and a study conducted by the advocacy group Trace indicates that incidents involving drivers brandishing firearms at other road users have more than doubled since 2014.
Crashes involving large trucks have particularly high stakes for other drivers of smaller passenger vehicles on Pennsylvania roadways. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that in 2017 alone, 4,102 people died in truck crashes. A full 82% of these victims were other drivers, passengers in other cars, pedestrians or motorcyclists. The size and weight of large trucks mean that they are a much greater threat to people in smaller cars or no vehicles at all. While any truck crash can lead to catastrophic injuries, some types of crashes were more likely to be deadly.
Many reckless, impatient and distracted drivers in Pennsylvania run red lights and, as a result, collide with pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers. Many of these crashes are fatal. Nationwide, 939 deaths arose from red light-running crashes in 2017, which was a 10-year high. The period from 2012 to 2017 saw a 30% increase in such deaths according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has some statistics on drunk driving crash deaths in Pennsylvania and the U.S. For 12 years in a row, from 2006 to 2017, the annual number of drunk driving fatalities exceeded 10,000. In 2017, there were 10,874 drunk driving fatalities reported. In addition, 28% of the motorcyclists who died in 2017 were drunk: a higher percentage than is found among car and truck drivers.