Imagine if a tornado ripped through the whole state of Pennsylvania, causing millions in property damage, injuring more than 82,000 people and killing more than 1,200. Officials would declare a state of emergency. There would be government studies commissioned to determine how we could be better prepared. Memorials would be held every year. And yet, this is the toll we see annually as a result of traffic crashes on Pennsylvania roads.
A comprehensive report by PennDOT outlines the profound and wide-ranging effect that Pennsylvania car accidents have on individuals and communities. Of the nearly 375,000 people involved in collisions last year, approximately 1,200 were killed and 82,000 suffered some type of injury that was treated by emergency responders or at local hospitals. Of those who were injured, about half suffered minor injuries. Approximately 12,500 suffered moderate injuries, 26,000 suffered injuries of unknown severity and more than 3,000 were deemed "major."
Both alcohol and speed-related deaths fluctuated slightly between 2014 to 2015. There were 333 alcohol-related crashes reported in the state in 2014 compared to 345 the following year. Speed-related crashes were tallied at 312 in 2014 and dropped top 302 in 2015. Whether this signifies any significant trend is unclear, but we do know motor vehicle deaths nationally saw the biggest two year jump in 50 years in 2015 and 2016. That's according to preliminary data from the National Safety Council. As TechCrunch reported, more than 40,000 people died last year in auto accidents.
Part of this is due to the fact that we've seen a slightly improved economy in recent years, which has driven more people to the roads. However, the increasing role of distraction can't be overstated, as the percentage of people with smartphones has more than doubled between 2011 and 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
More often than not, Altoona car accidents are the direct result of driver negligence, which is a motorist's breach of duty to operate the vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. Take for example the recent crash in Cambria Township. A 65-year-old Indiana woman was killed in a Pennsylvania car accident that investigators believe was caused by a driver ignoring a stop sign. The crash occurred at the intersection of Routes 219 and 422, one that has reportedly been the site of numerous deadly collisions since it was realigned several years ago, according to The Tribune Democrat.
The damage inflicted is obviously most acute for those who were directly involved in the crash and their loved ones. But the truth is we all pay a price, as the recent report reveals. The total economic losses due to traffic crashes in 2015 was $1,103 for every man, woman and child in Pennsylvania. That included:
- $7.8 billion in costs for deaths
- $4.3 billion in costs for major injuries
- $1.2 billion in costs for moderate injuries
- $308 million in costs for minor injuries
- $203 million in costs for property-damage-only crashes
- $198 million in costs for crashes with unknown injuries
In terms of the types of vehicles involved in these cases, passenger cars were overwhelmingly most common, followed by light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles, heavy trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, commercial buses and then school buses. In terms of fatal crashes, passenger cars and light trucks still held the top spots, though motorcycles came in at number three.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a highway traffic accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you and your family deserve.