Pennsylvania roadway deaths increased in 2021: PennDOT

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Pennsylvania roadway deaths increased 9% in 2021, according to PennDOT data.

Statewide traffic deaths increased to 1,230 in 2021 from 1,129 in 2020, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced in a news release Wednesday.

The increase is in line with a recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that projected a national increase of approximately 12% in the first nine months of 2021, the release states.

“Safety on our roadways is a shared responsibility,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said in the release. “Whether you are a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist, we can all do our part to prevent crashes and fatalities."

The York County Coroner's Office reported 59 crash-related deaths in 2021, up from 40 in 2020.

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In 2021, fatalities in crashes involving lane departure increased to 596, up from 551 in 2020, accounting for nearly half of highway fatalities across the state, according to the release.

Fatalities in crashes involving impaired driving decreased from 471 in 2020 to 450 in 2021. Although impaired driving fatalities have decreased in the last 15 years, the release states, they still account for more than 35% of fatalities in 2021.

"Buckle up every time you are in a vehicle," Gramian said in the release. "Always cross the road at an intersection or crosswalk. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle. Never drive, ride, or walk impaired or distracted. Let’s work together to reduce traffic deaths, because even one fatality is one too many.”

The state had 182 pedestrian deaths, up from 146 in 2020. Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 15% of fatalities statewide in 2021, PennDOT said. 

“Transportation needs to work for everyone – no matter who you are, no matter how you travel,” Gramian said in the release. “We continue to work with our partners to decrease fatalities through educational outreach, the latest innovations, effective enforcement, and low-cost safety improvements."

A York Township man was awaken by a loud crash when the driver of a SUV blacked out on S. Queen Street and struck a house, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The driver was transported to the hospital walking and talking after being extricated from the vehicle.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Other crash types with notable increases in fatalities in 2021 that were listed in the PennDOT release included:

  • Crashes involving a 16-to-17-year-old driver: 45 fatalities, up from 26 in 2020.
  • Crashes involving aggressive driving: 126 fatalities, up from 91 in 2020.
  • Motorcyclist fatalities: 226, up from 217 in 2020.
  • Crashes involving heavy trucks – 156 fatalities, up from 122 in 2020.
  • Unrestrained fatalities – 378, up from 348 in 2020.

According to national data, driver behavior is a factor in more than 90% of crashes. For this reason, PennDOT focuses on data trends to drive enforcement and education improvements and invests approximately $19 million annually in federal grant funds statewide to support these behavioral safety programs.

— Reach Anthony Maenza at or @atmaenza on Twitter. 

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