Pennsylvania Traffic Deaths Are Up While National Trend is Down

April 15, 2024

According to Pittsburgh’s Post-Gazette, from 2022 to 2023, traffic deaths declined nationally 3.6% from 2022 to 2023, but rose in Pennsylvania.

After declining to a record low in 2019, traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania increased in 2020 and 2021, before decreasing by 4% in 2022 to 1,179 deaths. However, early estimates indicate 2023 fatalities may be up again.

Pennsylvania Traffic Deaths Are Up While National Trend is Down 

Truck crashes accounted for a significant portion of the traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania, with the state ranking among the highest in the nation for truck crash deaths in 2022.

There are several key reasons for the rise in truck-related deaths in Pennsylvania:

Increase in Truck Accidents

Pennsylvania was among the states with the highest number of truck accidents in 2022, ranking 4th in the nation with 10,000-12,000 truck accidents, of which 4,000-5,000 caused injuries and 250-300 were fatal.

Equipment Failures

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the mechanical integrity of truck components plays a critical role in ensuring road safety. Each year, numerous truck-related accidents are attributed to failures in key vehicle systems, such as brakes, wheels, tires, and steering mechanisms. These malfunctions can dramatically increase the likelihood of accidents, underscoring the importance of regular maintenance and thorough inspection routines. Additionally, incidents often arise from improperly loaded cargo which can shift unexpectedly, causing drivers to lose control. Mechanical issues, whether due to wear and tear, faulty parts, or poor maintenance, are significant contributors to the overall risk posed by commercial trucking on public roads.

Driver Error

Driver error remains one of the predominant causes of truck accidents. This category encompasses a range of unsafe practices and mistakes, including failure to check blind spots, sudden or unexpected lane changes, and tailgating. Distracted driving, whether due to electronic devices, eating, or other activities, further compounds these risks. Fatigue is another critical factor, as it can impair a driver’s reaction time, decision-making capabilities, and overall alertness. Speeding or driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions also contributes significantly to accidents by reducing a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or stop in time. Comprehensive training and strict adherence to driving regulations are vital to mitigate these risks.

Road Conditions

Truck accidents are notably influenced by road conditions. Issues such as construction zones, slippery surfaces due to weather, and poorly marked roads can pose serious hazards, particularly if not adequately signposted. Truck drivers, given the size and handling characteristics of their vehicles, must be especially vigilant and adjust their driving speed to accommodate these variables. Failing to do so significantly increases the risk of mishaps. Ensuring that traffic signs are visible and that road work zones are clearly marked can help in reducing these types of accidents, as can educating truck drivers on the importance of adapting their driving style to current road conditions.

Aggressive Driving by Other Vehicles

While much focus is placed on the behavior of truck drivers, the actions of passenger vehicle drivers also contribute significantly to truck accidents. Maneuvers such as cutting off trucks in traffic, lingering in blind spots, or making risky passes can create dangerous situations that may lead to collisions. These actions are often motivated by impatience or a lack of understanding of the spatial needs and maneuverability of large vehicles. Educating the driving public about safe interaction with trucks, including maintaining safe distances and passing safely, is essential for reducing these preventable incidents.

At Matzus Law, We Can Help

Because traffic fatalities nationally have been increasing in Pennsylvania while declining nationally, if you or a loved one has been involved in a truck-related accident, you should contact Matzus Law as soon as possible.

At Matzus Law, we have the experience and expertise to guide you through even the most serious truck accident. When you work with Matzus Law, we can change the horizon on what can be a long path to justice,

Contact us today to learn more about how Matzus Law can help.


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