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September 30th, 2015

Top Causes of Auto Crashes in PA (2014 Data), A Discussion by a Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer

Pennsylvania auto accident stats 2014_mini

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) issued its annual Crash Facts & Statistics Report for 2014. These reports provide a comprehensive analysis of auto accidents in Pennsylvania.

According to the report, below are the top 5 causes of auto accidents in Pennsylvania in 2014.

  1. Speeding caused over 32,000 auto accidents last year, and of those, 434 were fatal crashes.
  2. Distracted driving caused just under 14,000 auto accidents, of which 49 were fatal crashes.
  3. Improper turning caused over 12,000 accidents, of which 72 were fatal.
  4. Drunk driving caused over 9,600 accidents, of which 188 were fatal.
  5. Proceeding without clearance, i.e., failing to yield the right of way, caused roughly 7,900 auto accidents, of which 69 were fatal.

Other causes of traffic accidents include:

  • careless/illegal passing,
  • tailgating, and
  • drowsy driving.

Related: What Does Limited Tort Have to Do with Your Philadelphia Car Accident?

Distracted Driving & Drunk Driving – Which is More Dangerous?

With increases around the country in the number of distracted driving auto accidents, many studies have likened distracted driving to drunk driving. However, are they in fact, similar, or is one more dangerous than the other?

When comparing the causes of accidents, it’s clear that some actions cause both a high number of auto crashes and a high number of fatal accidents. Speeding and improper turning cause both a high number of accidents and a high number of fatal accidents.  However, some conduct does not cause both a high number of accidents and a high number of fatal accidents. Here’s a look at the numbers in a table.

PA traffic auto accident cause statistics 2014 comparison

Interestingly, the numbers from 2014 indicate a surprising trend when it comes to distracted driving and drunk driving. Even though distracted driving is the second highest cause of auto accidents, it does not result in a correspondingly high number of fatal accidents. Given the data from 2014, distracted driving has a .35% fatal accident rate, whereas drunk driving has about a 2% fatal accident rate. To put it into perspective, this means that for every 1,000 distracted driving accidents, 3.5 will be fatal. For every 1,000 drunk driving accidents, 20 will be fatal.  Clearly, drunk driving is more dangerous in terms of causing fatal accidents.

Related: Philadelphia Auto Accident Insurance Claims Checklist

However, distracted driving accidents are far more common than drunk driving accidents. Based on the numbers, drivers in Pennsylvania are about 45% more likely to be involved in a distracted driving accident than a drunk driving accident.

Given the info, it’s clear that drunk driving causes more fatal accidents than distracted driving. On the other hand, distracted driving is responsible for many more accidents (thousands more). Both are dangerous, but given that drunk driving causes so many fatalities, it is probably the more dangerous behavior. Please practice safe driving. Parents, please take a moment and discuss safe driving techniques with your children, especially teenage drivers.

Page last updated: October 7, 2016