A look at the most common causes of car crashes in Pennsylvania

Drunk driving, speeding and distracted driving rank among the top causes of general auto accidents and fatal car crashes in Pennsylvania.

In 2014, over 120,000 car crashes occurred throughout Pennsylvania, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Some of these accidents may have happened due to factors beyond the control of drivers, such as dangerous road designs or vehicle defects. However, the majority involved errors or dangerous behaviors on the part of motorists. As a result, it's crucial for drivers in Pottsville to understand and avoid the most risky and prevalent of these behaviors.

Drunk driving

Drunk driving is a widespread problem in Pennsylvania and a common factor in fatal accidents. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2014, over 45,000 people in the state were arrested for driving under the influence. The same year, 345 people lost their lives in alcohol-related accidents. These deaths represented over one-quarter of all fatalities that occurred that year in Pennsylvania car crashes.

A bill that currently awaits Gov. Tom Wolf's signature could help address this issue. Fox News reports that the bill would require all first-time offenders convicted of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of at least .10 percent to use ignition interlock devices for a year. This could help reduce recidivism and give motorists further reason to refrain from driving under the influence. Still, even if the bill succeeds, drunk driving may still cause a sizable number of accidents, injuries and deaths each year.


In 2014, speeding was the most common contributing factor in general and fatal accidents in Pennsylvania, according to PDOT data. Over one out of four crashes were speed-related, as were more than one out of three fatal crashes. Overall, 434 people lost their lives in these accidents.

As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains, speed is an especially common factor in serious accidents for a few reasons. A driver who is traveling faster has less effective reaction time and less control over his or her vehicle. Additionally, at higher travel speeds, the amount of energy that must be dispelled in a crash is higher, which raises the risk of vehicular damage and serious injury.

Distracted driving

In recent years, distracted driving has also grown into a prevalent cause of accidents in Pennsylvania. In 2014, this was the second most common contributing factor in accidents in the state, per the DOT; over 13,900 accidents involved distracted drivers. Since distraction can be difficult to identify or establish, this figure might even underrepresent the true number of distraction-related crashes.

Enforcement of distracted driving has improved in Pennsylvania in recent years. The Pocono Record states that citations for this reckless habit doubled from 2012 to 2015. Unfortunately, many drivers may still go uncaught, and inattentive driving may be increasing. In Monroe County, for instance, incidences of distracted driving increased over 200 percent during the same three-year period.

Seeking recourse

Given these common car accident causes, many people who suffer injuries during auto accidents in Pennsylvania may have grounds to make personal injury claims. If another driver's negligent actions were the primary cause of an accident, a victim may be able to recover damages to address medical costs, emotional suffering and more. For further information, victims may want to consider discussing the situation and their options with an attorney.