In 2018, there were more than 40,000 deaths due to automobile accidents on America's roadways. More than 10,000 of those deaths can be attributed to drunk driving. Unfortunately, people who live in Pennsylvania and other states throughout the country have become accustomed to these high numbers. In fact, many accidents don't even make the news.
The first three months as a licensed driver appear to be more dangerous to teens than the period when they have a learner's permit. In those three months, teens in Pennsylvania and across the country raise their risk for a crash or near-miss by eight times compared to their last three months with a permit. This was the conclusion of a study from the National Institutes for Health and Virginia Tech University.
Most Pennsylvania drivers likely understand the importance of avoiding distractions while driving. However, researchers show that across the country, drivers are still using their phone or mobile device with alarming frequency. When drivers were asked what it is that concerns them about other drivers on the road, more than 40% said that they were concerned about distracted driving. They view it as a national safety issue.
The size, weight and mass of big rigs can lead to some particularly dangerous collisions on Pennsylvania roads. Truck drivers operate their massive vehicles for long stretches of time, which means distraction and fatigue can be overwhelming.
Emergency responders in Pennsylvania and throughout the country put their safety at risk each time that they step out of their vehicles. This is because there is a chance that they could be struck by a distracted driver. According to a recent survey, 19 percent of respondents said that they have put such personnel at risk because of their own distracted driving habits. Furthermore, 80 percent of respondents said that they actually slow down when they see a person tending to an emergency situation.
Despite changes in the law combined with educational campaigns, many Pennsylvanians continue to use their smartphones while they drive. People use their phones to talk, read and write text messages, search social media and engage in many other activities that are distracting.
Accidents in Pennsylvania and around the country involving passenger vehicles that slide underneath tractor-trailers claim about 300 lives each year. Federal regulations require logistics companies to fit rear underride guards to their large trucks, but no such rule exists for side and front underride guards. Bipartisan bills that would mandate the installation of side and front underride guards were recently introduced in both the Senate and the House, and they are supported by a coalition of road safety groups that say their passage could save dozens or even hundreds of lives each year. The bills also bring the rules dealing with rear underride guards up to date.
While the dangers of fatigued driving are well understood, they're often ignored. Virtually all respondents to a recent AAA poll referred to the practice as completely unacceptable. However, almost a third of them also admitted to recently getting behind the wheel while dangerously fatigued. Data like this is especially concerning to road safety when Pennsylvanians move their clocks forward by one hour to mark the beginning of daylight saving time.
America's opioid crisis is hitting Pennsylvania's roadways, according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open. The study found that drivers found at fault for causing fatal two-vehicle crashes were almost twice as likely to test positive for prescription painkillers as drivers who did not cause the crash. The study was released in mid-February.
Distracted driving can be a problem for drivers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country regardless of the driver's age. However, statistics show that it is a major problem for teen drivers. Over 58 percent of accidents involving a teen driver occur because he or she was distracted at the time of the crash. According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, cellphone use was not the main cause of distracted driving.