PennDOT Urges Responsible, Safe Driving

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) encourage all Pennsylvania motorists to take responsibility for safety on our roadways and help “Put the Brakes on Fatalities.”

In 2019, traffic fatalities dropped to 1,059, the lowest since record-keeping began in 1928. In 2020, even with less roadway traffic, fatalities increased to 1,129. In 2021, and in line with trends seen across the nation, traffic fatalities increased again, jumping by about 9% to 1,230.

“Pennsylvania is not alone in seeing an increase in roadway deaths, but that doesn’t make it OK,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “In fact, everyone should find it unacceptable. Many traffic fatalities are completely preventable. We must work together – safety is everyone’s responsibility. We urge all drivers to follow these simple safety steps today and always: pay attention when you are behind the wheel, never drive impaired, slow down, and buckle up.”

Nearly a dozen safety advocates from around the state, including PennDOT, PSP, and PTC, partnered to create a video urging safe driving.

“Troopers are trained to spot dangerous driving behaviors and take a zero-tolerance approach, but we need the public’s help to put the brakes on fatalities,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Robert Evanchick. “If you believe you’re sharing the road with an aggressive, distracted, or impaired driver, do not hesitate to call 911.”

“Driving over the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions is among the leading causes of roadway incidents that become fatalities,” explained PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Since the pandemic, distracted driving is also a factor in many such fatalities. As drivers, we must take ownership of unsafe driving habits by paying attention and slowing down behind the wheel. It’s up to us to turn the tide.”

“Early crash data estimates are showing 2022 traffic fatalities may be down slightly over 2021,” said Gramian. “While this is encouraging news, these numbers are still too high. Even one fatality is one too many.”

Areas of concern within 2022 statewide crash data include pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities, and fatalities in crashes involving distracted drivers.

Whether walking or biking, pedestrians and motorists must share equal respect. Drivers should slow down when approaching a crosswalk or intersection, watch for pedestrians, and be prepared to yield to them. Pedestrians should cross only at a crosswalk and make eye contact with approaching drivers to ensure they will stop before entering the roadway. Both pedestrians and motorists should obey traffic control devices, which help identify who must yield at an intersection.

PennDOT is using data to identify high pedestrian usage routes and promoting infrastructure improvements to enhance pedestrian safety, such as medians, crossing islands, and increased lighting. Traffic signal upgrades are being planned across the state to add pedestrian countdown indicators.

Riders and drivers must also work together to keep everyone safe. Motorcyclists are urged to use common sense by riding sober, obeying speed limits, and allowing enough time to react. Remember to wear all of your gear, all of the time, including reflective clothing and reflective tape on your riding gear to help improve your safety and make you more visible to motorists. Motorcyclists can be hard to see because of their smaller size. Drivers should watch for motorcycles and check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes. Following too closely is a major factor in crashes involving motorcycles. Vehicles should allow at least four seconds of following distance when following a motorcycle.

Drivers are urged to always pay attention when behind the wheel. Research has shown that distraction from cell phone use while driving – either hand-held or hands-free – delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

Anything that causes a motorist to take their attention away from driving, take their eyes off of the road or take their hands off of the wheel is a distraction, including:

  • Eating, drinking, and smoking,
  • Changing the radio station,
  • Talking on the phone, texting, or emailing,
  • Reading or writing,
  • Doing your hair or make up, and
  • Dozing/staring off at something along the side of the road.