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PennDOT report: 2018 fatal crashes up from 2017 record low

Regional News

According to a report released by PennDOT Thursday, 1,190 people died on Pennsylvania roadways in 2018. 

It’s a slight uptick from 2017’s all-time record low, but the increase isn’t as simple as it may appear. 

“There might be one fatal crash, but maybe you had three fatalities in that,” said Fritzi Schreffler, PennDOT spokesperson. 

Other stats in the report are a little more straightforward. 

“Motorcycles, heavy trucks, single-vehicle crashes off the road — we’re really happy about those numbers going down, but the ones that have increased for us really aren’t a surprise,” Schreffler said. 

Crashes involving senior drivers, impairment, and pedestrians were all up from 2017. 

“A driver in a vehicle at nighttime won’t see a pedestrian until they’re right on top of them,” said Officer Kevin Roland, Lower Paxton Township Police Department. 

Roland said Lower Paxton Township’s numbers are mirroring statewide trends. 

“Most of the time, the pedestrian crashes occur at night in hours of darkness, and they usually occur mid-block, they’re not occurring at intersections,” Roland said. 

There’s no direct statistic for distracted driving, but with 90 percent of fatal accidents attributed to driver behavior, according to PennDOT, Schreffler said it’s a big problem. 

“We don’t have a separate flag — so to speak — that we can check off to say how many of these were texting while driving…I think it’s probably grossly underreported,” Schreffler said. 

Distracted driving may be a faceless killer in the 2018 report, but Schreffler hopes one day that will change. 

“I think it’s going to take a law, a primary law, especially because a secondary law means they have to do something else before they get pulled over,” she said. 

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