Enjoy your holiday weekend, but remember to be safe on the road, too. Memorial Day weekend is an especially dangerous weekend for driving on Pennsylvania roads. Data from prior years shows a marked increase in car-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities across the state during this holiday weekend from Friday afternoon-Monday evening. For example, in 2015, the state police were called in to investigate over 700 accidents. Out of these accidents, there were 13 deaths and almost 250 injuries. The majority of these accidents were alcohol-related. On top of investigating accidents, the state police made over 450 DUI arrests and cited over 1,000 people for not wearing their seatbelts. Over 300 adults were cited for not having children in proper safety seats, too.
Summer driving is just around the corner! As you drive to go on vacation, visit family and friends, and enjoy outdoor gatherings, are you being safe while driving, too? According to national statistics, the months of July and August are two of the months that are most highly correlated with car accidents and car-related deaths. Additionally, teenage drivers are especially at risk for accidents during these months, too.
Did you know that rainfall, no matter how light, can significantly influence your chances of being in a fatal accident? According to reports from the American Meteorological Society, which studied over 125,000 fatal car crashes in the 48 continguous states, they found that wet roads (no matter from rain, sleet, snow, or hail) increased the risk of a fatal accident by about 34% across the country. Even when the rain was light, the risk increased by over 25%. The study utilitized advanced data techniques, including targeted use of high-resolution radars, that had not been used in such a large-scale study before. For Pennsylvania in particular, a fatal crash appears to be almost 13% more likely to occur during any form of precipitation as opposed to when the roads are dry.
PennDOT periodically partners with other organizations to hold events aimed at community outreach and safety. Recently, they held an event in partnership with several other organizations in Lycoming County to raise awareness about bicycle safety. This event, which was a bike rodeo, focused on bike safety and helmet use in an effort to address Bicycle Safety Month. Children who attended this event learned about PA's bicycle laws and general safety tips. Some children received a free helmet, and there was a bicycle course set up at the event for participants to ride through. PennDOT data from 2017 reflects a high number of bicycle accidents across the state, including over 1,000 crashes. These crashes resulted in nearly 100 significant medical injuries and over 20 deaths. Hopefully, these outreach programs will reduce these statistics in the coming years.
- Always, always, ALWAYS wear a helmet.
- Make sure your bicycle is in good working order, including the tire pressure, brakes, and reflectors.
- Wear reflective and bright clothing any time you're riding.
- Respect cars on the road and leave room! Be aware of their blind spots, including car doors potentially opening towards you.