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Pennsylvania Making Some Progress with Drunk Driving Deaths

Goldstein Heslop Steele Clapper Oswalt & Smith Dec. 12, 2021

According to a recent study, the efforts of lawmakers, police and safety advocates are paying off when it comes to reducing the number of deaths related to drunk driving in Pennsylvania. In 2000, 533 people died on Pennsylvania’s roads because of a drunk driver. By 2017, that number had dropped to 314. Overall, the fatality rate in this state has declined by over 41% during those 17 years.

This number is impressive in several respects. Relatively speaking, it put Pennsylvania in the top 10 among states that had reduced their fatality rates due to drunk driving. Overall, Pennsylvania ranked 9th. Pennsylvania also easily beat the national average, as fatality rates have declined by over 18% across the country.

Obviously, the raw number is also impressive; when a state manages to reduce any fatality rate by over 40%, it means that someone is doing something right. The study attributed the decline to the fact that police are much more vigilant about catching and arresting alleged drunk drivers. Moreover, those who are caught drunk driving, particular after they cause an accident, face harsh criminal penalties even for a first-time offense. Finally, some have speculated that the advent of ride-sharing has helped the problem, as people seem more likely to arrange for an Uber or Lyft ride than to call a taxi.

Still, if the 2017 statistics hold, it is likely that over 300 people will lose their lives this year in this state due to drunk driving. This number is unacceptable. While hopefully Pennsylvania’s efforts to prevent drunk driving will continue to have a positive effect, it is also important for victims of car accidents related to drunk driving to remember they may also be able to hold drivers accountable for this irresponsible behavior via a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.