Pennsylvania has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous states in the Northeast to drive in. Contrary to what some may believe, many accidents happen on quiet roads. Driving on familiar roads could lead a driver to pay less attention, and that can cause car accidents.
Pennsylvania motorists may already be aware of the increased safety provided by running headlights at all times, even during clear daylight hours. Further proof continues to come in, as numerous studies indicate that daytime running lights reduce the risk of a car accident. Indeed, some studies have noted that using headlights during daylight hours could reduce the number of crashes by as much as 10 percent. Perhaps more interesting, though, are the types of accidents that might be avoided by drivers putting on their headlights.
Pennsylvania residents often take to the roads in the fall to view the state's impressive foliage, attend football games or visit friends and family members, but driving conditions can be unpredictable at this time of year and traffic conditions often change quickly. Heavy rains can make fall roads treacherous when water pools on top of accumulated summer dust and oil, and drivers in states like Pennsylvania with mountainous and wooded terrain should be especially vigilant as fog can descend rapidly and impede visibility.
Until recently, drivers in Pennsylvania had only their eyes to rely on when checking blind spots during lane changes. However, crash avoidance technology now supports motorists with warnings about objects if they forget to look or fail to see another vehicle. Automatic warning systems that detect drifting out of a lane or objects in a blind spot have cut down on some accidents, according to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Even though drowsy driving may not have the same reputation as drunk driving, it can be just as deadly. The Centers for Disease Control report that drowsy drivers in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country are responsible for up to 6,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents every year.
Last year, many Pennsylvania motorists drove more thanks to cheaper gasoline prices and job growth. However, the National Safety Council says that the increase in vehicle miles traveled last year cannot fully explain why there were so many car accident deaths. While vehicle miles traveled increased by 3 percent in 2016 over the previous year, car accident fatalities increased by 6 percent.
Pennsylvania residents may be aware that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has referred to his company's Model S luxury sedan as the safest car ever made, but testers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety may not agree with him. The IIHS is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from the auto sector to conduct accident reconstructions and safety tests, and they recently rated six full-size sedans. The Toyota Avalon, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Lincoln Continental all received the institute's highest marks for crashworthiness, but the Tesla Model S did not.
Pennsylvania residents may be looking forward to driverless car technology. However, safety advocates are asking Congress to take its time and enact legislation before the vehicles are allowed on the road. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety alliance says that automakers should be required to certify the safety of their vehicles before being allowed to test them and that there should be fewer cars allowed on the road for test purposes.
In a study that examined children's deaths in motor vehicle accidents from 2010 to 2014 by state, Pennsylvania had one of the lowest percentages. The study looked at fatalities among children under the age of 15. It found that more than 60 percent of these fatal crashes happened on rural roads and that in 20 percent of the deaths, children were not restrained or were restrained improperly. In 13 percent, children were in the front seat when they should not have been.
Pennsylvania drivers might want to be more careful on the road in light of the news that traffic fatalities are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015, deaths from motor vehicle accidents increased compared to the previous year after declining since 2007. The trend appears to have continued in 2016. Furthermore, distracted driving is increasing faster as a cause of those accidents compared to other causes such as drunk or fatigued driving.