Fatal Crashes Tripled in Beaver County in 2017
After a five-year trend that showed a decline in fatal auto accidents in Beaver County, the number of people killed in car accidents tripled in 2017.
According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation information released this spring, there were 17 people killed in car accidents in 2017 — up from five in 2016. This number was the highest since 2012, when 19 people died in crashes.
PennDOT traffic engineers have not been able to gather any hard evidence as to what caused the sharp increase in fatal accidents last year. However, officials said that more than 94 percent of car accidents are the result of behavioral issues.
There was also little common ground in each of the crashes, as they occurred in 12 different municipalities. Two involved alcohol, three involved motorcycles and four involved distracted drivers. Only one was due to wintery weather. Four involved aggressive driving and speeding.
The fact that these accidents have so little in common with each other suggests to traffic engineers that the spike in crash deaths last year may have been an anomaly.
Continued emphasis on traffic safety
While the steep increase in deaths last year is alarming, public officials say the true test of whether there’s significant cause for concern will be the 2018 numbers upon the end of the year. Future data will help the agency determine how it should proceed.
One RAND study, though, indicates the sudden jump in deaths in Beaver County could be a microcosm of a larger issue across the United States. The study, titled “The Road to Zero,” indicates the total number of deaths, miles driven and deaths per 100,000 people nationwide have been decreasing for some time, but that trend began to shift in 2015 and accelerated upward in 2016. The authors aim to develop a strategy that will achieve zero motor vehicle crashes by 2050 through educational programs, new laws and additional enforcement, assisted by advanced technology in vehicles.