Though less motorists died in highways crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2007, a rise in aggressive driving has taken its toll, along with vehicles leaving the roadways as the second highest incident of road-related deaths in Pike and Wayne counties.


Though less motorists died in highways crashes on Pennsylvania roadways in 2007, a rise in aggressive driving has taken its toll, along with vehicles leaving the roadways as the second highest incident of road-related deaths in Pike and Wayne counties.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has released its 10-year report on highway deaths showing that 1,491 motorists died in 2007, compared to the 1,525 that died in 2006.

“Anytime that Pennsylvania experiences a drop in the number of highway deaths, it's good news,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. in the report. “The sad news is that there are far too many people still dying in highway crashes. More tragic is the fact that aggressive driving continues to be the number one killer on our roads,” Biehler said.

In 2007, aggressive driving played a role in 971 fatalities in the state, up from 913 a year earlier. Over the past five years, aggressive driving has killed 4,640 motorists with the majority of those deaths coming in 2005 when 1,019 motorists were killed due to the actions of aggressive drivers, the report found.

Non-fatal crashes on Pennsylvania roads rose to 130,564 from 128,342 in 2006. In spite of the increase in crashes in 2007, this is the third lowest number in more than 50 years. Aggressive driving played a role in 74,887 of those crashes.

Aggressiveness

Aggressive driving includes such behaviors as speeding, running traffic control devices and careless lane changes. Speed-related highway deaths across the state climbed to 734 last year from 663 in 2006.

“These statistics show that aggressive driving continues to jeopardize the safety of all drivers,” Biehler said. “I'm urging drivers to act responsibly and do the right thing when operating a motor vehicle — your life and the lives of those you share the road with are at stake.”

Biehler also offered a warning to would-be aggressive drivers that with more than 338 municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police working together through the Smooth Operator Program to stop aggressive driving behaviors, it's only a matter of time before they see those familiar red and blue lights in their mirrors.

Region

In Pike County, between 1997 and 2007, 46 fatalities occurred due to aggressive driving behavior. The most were in 2005, adding up to nine. In Wayne, 57 people lost their lives due to uncontrollable actions of others. The most lives lost were in the year 2002, with 10 people dying on Wayne County roadways.

Off Road

Single vehicle running off the road and into objects, like trees and pole crashes make up the largest fatalities in both counties.

In Pike County, 75 people died from their vehicles running off the roadway. Sixty-four died from hitting fixed objects after leaving the roadways; and 44 died from striking trees.

In Wayne, less died from running off the road, 72; 65 died from hitting fixed objects off the roads; and 38 died from hitting trees.

Though both counties lost 10 lives due to heavy truck accidents in the last ten years, Wayne county takes the prize in alcohol-related crashes on the roadways. Between 1997 and 2007, 42 people died in Wayne, with Pike reporting only 32 deaths in ten years.

Ages

When it comes to the age of those involved in vehicle crashes, those over 65 lost more lives then their young-counterparts — under 17 years of age.

In Wayne County, 24 seniors citizens ages 65 and over died; 13 died between the ages of 56 and 75; with 11 over the age of 75 lost their lives in accidents.

Junior drivers, ages 16 to 17 lost six lives in the last ten years, with two 16-year-olds and four 17-year-olds.

In Pike, 23 drivers over the age of 65 was reported killed in the last 10 years. Thirteen drivers ages 65 to 74 years of age lost their lives on Pike roadways; and 11 over the age of 75 were killed.

Twenty junior drivers died in the last ten years, with 10 of them between 16 and 17 years of age; three were 16; and seven were 17.