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Deadliest Car Accidents in Pennsylvania

We’ve researched over 15 years of data to find Pennsylvania’s deadliest roads. Here’s what we discovered.

If you live in the state of Pennsylvania and are worried about getting into a car accident, you’re not alone. As these car accident statistics reveal, living in a densely populated city greatly increases your chances of experiencing or witnessing fatal car accidents. In Pennsylvania, densely populated cities include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

To give you some insight into the available data, we’ve mapped out 15 years of Pennsylvania fatal car accident data below.

Legend:

skull and crossbones on red background 10 worst 1-mile stretches of road in each county with the most cumulative deaths for that county

red dotAny fatal car accident from 2004-2019

Fatal car accidents in Pennsylvania

During the 15-year span between 2004 and 2019, there were 31,342 fatal car accidents in all of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia County and Allegheny County were the most dangerous counties, with a combined 10,934 fatalities.

The safest counties during that timeframe were Forest, Sullivan, and Cameron, with 41, 30, and 25 fatalities, respectively. That is to say, these counties had the lowest numbers of fatal car accidents for this time period.

Densely populated areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are more dangerous when it comes to fatal car accidents. The two cities totaled 1,704 fatalities over the 15-year period. During the 2004 to 2018 timeframe, deadly car accidents in Philadelphia and Pittsburg accounted for 5% of all fatalities throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania.

map of Pennsylvania car accident fatalities 2004-2018

chart Pennsylvania car accident fatalities 2004-2018 ranked by most dangerous county

Additional observations

While looking at the data, here are a few things we found that are worth making note of:

  • The majority of fatal accidents occur in heavily populated areas containing multiple intersections—for example, cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
  • Speed is the leading cause of fatal car accidents. In fact, in 2019, speeding resulted in 29,978 crashes overall and 385 fatalities, according to the 2019 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics Report.
  • Drinking and driving was the second most common factor associated with fatal car accidents. In 2019, drinking and driving was the cause of 8,180 crashes and 141 fatalities.
  • Distracted driving is another leading cause of fatal car accidents. According to the Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics Reports we reviewed, distracted driving refers to any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Examples of distracted driving include texting, eating, grooming, talking to passengers, etc.
  • Holidays like Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July, and Memorial Day can be especially dangerous times for driving. Surprisingly, in 2019, Christmas and New Year’s were just about tied for the least dangerous holiday (in terms of the number of overall crashes), and the most dangerous period was the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Sources:

  • https://data-usdot.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/fatal-motor-vehicle-accidents?geometry=-79.197%2C39.793%2C-70.062%2C41.254
  • https://www.penndot.gov/TravelInPA/Safety/Pages/Crash-Facts-and-Statistics.aspx