Car crashes happen for all kinds of reasons and to all kinds of people. Even so, it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with if it’s you or a loved one who experiences it. You might be a responsible driver, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will behave the same way.

Motor vehicle accident statistics reveal where law enforcement may need to concentrate its efforts and where the public needs to put its attention. A recent study from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation found that traffic fatalities increased in 2018. That may seem discouraging, but other statistics taken over the last two decades offer a bit of hope.

What the study found

Though 2018 saw an increase in traffic fatalities — from 1,137 in 2017 to 1,190 in 2018 — researchers say that there is more to the story. Records over the previous twenty years show that 2018 had the third-lowest number of traffic fatalities for that time frame. The highest number of traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania happened in 2002, when 1,618 people lost their lives. Comparing 2018 to 2002 shows a decrease in traffic deaths by 26.5%.

Two counties in Pennsylvania, Lehigh County and Northampton County, actually saw a drop in traffic fatalities in 2018 compared with the previous year. Representatives for PennDOT point out that while they are encouraged by these results, ideally, no one should die in a traffic accident, and that is what they want to accomplish.

Some categories increased

When researchers examined the 20 years of traffic death statistics, though they see a downward trend, they concede that some types of traffic fatalities increased during that time. One of those categories is deaths as a result of distracted driving, which rose by more than double. Another is motorcycle deaths that include a driver from the age of 65 to 74, which rose by half.

Comparing only 2018 to 2017, three kinds of crashes increased. First, impaired driving went from 335 deaths to 355. Next were pedestrian crashes, rising from 150 to 201. Lastly, crashes that include a driver aged 65 to 74 went up from 124 to 188.

How do we do better?

Fortunately, officials will use this data to come up with ways to further reduce traffic fatalities. The vast majority of car accidents are caused by driver behavior and PennDOT says they will continue to fund behavioral safety programs and education initiatives. They also intend to improve existing infrastructure that will decrease traffic fatalities.

Even with all of these efforts, motor vehicle accidents will still occur, unfortunately. If you or someone you care about has been harmed by a negligent driver, there are ways to hold responsible parties accountable.