HARRISBURG, Pa. — South Central Pennsylvania saw its first freeze of the season Wednesday morning. With snowy and hazardous road conditions on the horizon, a new report puts the Commonwealth among the top deadliest states for winter driving accidents.
A MoneyGeek analysis looked at data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It ranks Pennsylvania fifth in the nation for the number of fatal winter driving accidents.
According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), 51 fatal crashes happened in snow, sleet, slush, freezing rain or on icy roads last year.
However, the majority of crashes statewide occur under no adverse conditions. In 2020, there were 1,129 fatal crashes on Pennsylvania roadways—a nearly seven percent jump from 2019. A PennDOT spokesperson tells FOX43 that most of these crashes are preventable.
“By and large, driver behavior contributes to the majority of crashes,” said Dave Thompson, PennDOT District 8 Press Officer. “Over 90 percent of crashes are attributed to driver error or driver behavior such as speeding, tailgating, running red lights and stop signs.”
Winter Driving Tips
- Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
- AAA recommends the following tips while driving in snowy and icy conditions:
- Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.
- Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
- Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
- Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.