HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – Fatalities resulting from vehicular accidents has increased over 4% in 2023, and PennDOT predicts that number will only grow before the end of the year.

Current preliminary data projects that deaths on Pa. roadways will increase by 6% by years end.

However, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that traffic fatalities have dropped nationwide in the first half of 2023 by approximately 3.3% compared to data from the same time frame in 2022.

While Pennsylvania is only one of 21 states that has seen an increase in deaths from traffic accidents this year, PennDOT, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are encouraging all Pennsylvania motorists to drive safely and responsibly on our roadways to help “Put the Brakes on Fatalities.”

“The frequency and severity of distracted driving behaviors are higher than ever,” PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton said in a press release. “On average nine people die each day in the United States due to distracted driving, and thousands more are injured. Every time we get into our cars to start the ignition, we must commit to keeping our focus on the road – each and every time with no exception.”

October 10 is “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day”, a day for recognizing a national campaign that encourages all road users to do their part to help prevent traffic fatalities.

To help drivers understand areas of concern regarding safe driving, PennDOT has added a Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool to their website. Data from accidents involving motor vehicles is submitted to PennDOT by police across the state, reviewed for accuracy and displayed on the dashboard.

The data shows that as of July 31, there has been a total of 666 fatalities resulting from vehicular accidents this year, with increases in the number of deaths in accidents involving bicycles, motorcycles and work zones.

Officials say that drivers can help reduce crashes and deaths by always following the speed limit and paying attention while behind the wheel. Drivers can also help save lives by not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as nearly 40% of all traffic deaths in Pennsylvania result from crashes involving an impaired driver.

And while PennDOT is encouraging drivers to evaluate their behavioral safety on the roadways, they are also focusing on infrastructure improvements to reduce deaths and serious injuries. From 2017 through 2022, PennDOT has spent approximately $482 million in Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds on 337 unique safety projects. During that same time period, $50 million in state funds was invested in low-cost safety improvements at over 1,000 locations. These projects were aimed at reducing lane departure crashes by improving centerline, edge-line and shoulder rumble strips as well as adding more curve warnings and cable median barriers and treating areas of high friction surface.