PennDot: Pa. highway death toll declined in 2011

Posted: March 17, 2012

HARRISBURG - The state's annual highway death toll decreased in 2011 to 1,291 - the second-lowest total on record, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Friday.

The number of deaths in crashes involving a drunken driver declined from 417 to 379 - the lowest figure in more than a decade. Motorcyclist fatalities declined from 223 to 198, and there were fewer crashes involving vehicles hitting trees and motorists veering into oncoming traffic.

But fatalities involving 16-year-old drivers increased from 19 to 29, and the number of vehicle crashes involving trains or trolleys increased from five to six, officials said.

The 2011 total reflected 33 fewer deaths than in 2010 and was 35 more than the record low set in 2009, officials said.

The highest recorded death toll was 2,444 in 1973 - nearly double the figures in recent years, according to PennDot statistics. The department has documented a decline in fatalities over the last 60 years that it attributes largely to safer highways and safer vehicles.

Secretary Barry Schoch said his department had invested $50 million in the last five years to make highways safer. Improvements include installing cable median barriers, putting rumble strips along the edges and centerlines of roadways, and removing obstacles.

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