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[Study] The Deadliest Stretches of Road In Pennsylvania

Deadliest Roads in Pennsylvania

The Situation

In 2017, 1,083 fatal crashes occurred in Pennsylvania – leading to 1,137 deaths overall.

At Dallas W. Hartman P.C., Attorneys at Law, we wanted to find out where exactly these fatal crashes were occurring – and if there were any stretches of road where they occurred more frequently.

With the help of data visualization firm 1Point21 Interactive, we analyzed three years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to map out sections of road in Pennsylvania with the highest amount of fatal crashes.

We used data from 2015-2017 to find roads and highways with 4 or more fatal crashes within close proximity and mapped them out accordingly.

In all, we found 82 total segments across the state with at least 4 fatal crashes in those three years, accounting for 465 crashes and 513 total fatalities.

[Interactive Map] The Deadliest Roads in Pennsylvania, 2015-2017

*Zoom in and hover over each section of road to reveal more information.  If viewing on a mobile device, rotate device for best experience. 

The Deadliest Road is in Philadelphia

According to our data, the deadliest stretch of road in Pennsylvania is a section of Roosevelt Road, centralized in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of Philadelphia. Spanning nearly 11 miles, this segment of Roosevelt Road had more fatal crashes (26), deaths (30), and alcohol-involved fatalities (7) than any other road that we identified in our study.

The 25 Deadliest Road Stretches in PA

Passing through Pennypack Park and the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, this stretch averaged about 38,000 vehicles daily in 2016 – a high amount of traffic, but not exceedingly high, compared to other highways and arterials in the state. Why so many deadly motor vehicle crashes occur on this particular stretch of road is something that should certainly be investigated further.

The Deadliest Road Stretches in Pennsylvania: Top 50

Rank City Road Name Length Crashes Fatalities Alcohol Involved
1 Philadelphia Roosevelt Bl 10.99 26 30 7
2 Philadelphia Delaware Ex 29.33 16 16 3
3 Mechanicsburg American Legion Mem HW I-81 20.36 14 17 3
4 Bensalem Street Rd 14.30 14 15 2
5 Easton State Route 33 10.78 10 14 3
6 Philadelphia Schuylkill Ex 4.96 10 12 1
7 Pittsburgh Ohio River Bl 17.82 10 12 0
8 Washington I-70 31.74 9 11 0
9 Philadelphia Broad St 7.21 8 9 1
10 Kinzers Lincoln Hw 9.55 8 9 0
11 Chester Vietnam Veterans Memor HW 6.15 8 8 4
12 Breinigsville US-222 7.04 7 11 1
13 Philadelphia Lehigh Av 1.24 7 7 0
14 Bristol Paper St 3.19 7 7 0
15 Philadelphia Bustleton Av 5.79 7 7 2
16 Coolbaugh Township Sterling Rd 5.84 7 7 1
17 Bethlehem Lehigh Valley Thruway 12.90 7 7 1
18 Glendon Sr 0078 Sh 15.22 6 8 3
19 Pittsburgh Penn Lincoln Py 3.67 6 7 2
20 Warminster County Line Rd 2.30 6 6 3
21 Butler Pittsburgh Rd 8.63 6 6 1
22 Stroudsburg Keystone Shortway Hw 11.79 5 8 1
23 Philadelphia Torresdale Av 1.91 5 7 3
24 Philadelphia Henry Av 3.05 5 7 1
25 North Versailles Lincoln Hw 3.97 5 7 1
26 Chester Second St 1.15 5 6 2
27 Hazle Township Can Do Ex 1.37 5 6 1
28 Philadelphia Woodhaven Rd 2.98 5 6 3
29 Linden Sr 0220 Sh 3.83 5 6 0
30 Dauphin William Penn Hw US-22 5.68 5 6 1
31 Philadelphia Whitaker Av 1.54 5 5 0
32 Philadelphia Aramingo Av 1.87 5 5 0
33 Scranton Main Av 2.10 5 5 1
34 Harrisburg I-83 2.30 5 5 2
35 Philadelphia Castor Av 2.52 5 5 0
36 Philadelphia Second St 2.56 5 5 1
37 Butler Benjamin Franklin HW 2.67 5 5 3
38 Philadelphia Kelly Dr 2.76 5 5 1
39 Philadelphia Lindbergh Bl 2.96 5 5 0
40 Harrisburg Paxton St 3.05 5 5 1
41 Erie Peach St 3.78 5 5 0
42 Export Freeport Rd 4.53 5 5 1
43 Kinzers Old Philadelphia Pk 10.21 5 5 0
44 Effort State Route 115 5.70 4 6 2
45 Prospect Benjamin Franklin Hw 1.28 4 5 0
46 New Tripoli State Route 309 1.85 4 5 1
47 Myerstown Cumberland St 2.97 4 5 1
48 Harrisburg Wm B Lentz Hw US-22 5.38 4 5 2
49 Hummelstown Hershey Rd 5.61 4 5 1
50 Philadelphia Eleventh St 0.52 4 4 1

Philadelphia Had the Highest Number of Deadly Roads

The city of Philadelphia, in general, dominated this list, with 24 deadly segments of road – more than a quarter of our list. Altogether, these segments combined for 155 total fatal collisions, leading to 167 deaths – nearly a third of all deaths in our analysis. Aside from the top ranking segment, other deadly Philadelphia roads include:

  • A 30-mile long stretch of I-95 that runs from Philadelphia into Trenton, ranked second overall with 16 crashes and 16 fatalities.
  • A segment of I-76 running adjacent to the University of Pennsylvania. Nearly five miles in length, this portion of highway had 10 fatal crashes and 12 deaths – ranking sixth overall.

Please Note: It might be logical to conclude that the highest accidents numbers would occur in the highest populated areas, like Philadelphia. And this is true in some cases. But in this study, we factored in the road lengths as well in our ranking system. Some of the featured areas might surprise you!

City of Harrisburg Ranked #2

Harrisburg had the next highest amount of dangerous road segments. Despite having a population roughly 30 times less than that of Philadelphia, the state capital was the location of 5 deadly segments, totaling 22 fatal crashes leading to 23 fatalities.

Interestingly, the two deadliest segments in Harrisburg run almost parallel to each other within close vicinity of the Harrisburg Mall. Each accounted for 5 crashes leading to 5 deaths – one being a 2.3-mile stretch of I-83, the other being a 3-mile segment of Paxton Street south of the highway.

Pittsburgh Had Two Dangerous Segments – Both in the Top 20

Although Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-most populous city, had only two segments in our analysis, they were among the most dangerous in our list.

The deadliest segment in Pittsburgh is a vast stretch of Ohio River Blvd that spans nearly 18 miles, from the Conway borough all the way to Bellevue. This segment ranked seventh overall on our list, accounting for 10 fatal crashes, leading to 12 deaths. For perspective, even though Philadelphia had more deadly segments, only three of them ranked higher than this stretch in Pittsburgh.

The other deadly segment is a 3.7-mile portion of I-376 that spans roughly from the Liberty Bridge to Schenley Park, accounting for 6 collisions leading to 7 fatalities. This is a notable segment that runs through the Pittsburgh Technology Center, the rapidly developing hub for all things high-tech in the city. With more than 1,000 people working at the 48-acre site, a correlation may exist between the location and the high number of collisions.

Other Notable Roads

Other notable deadly segments of road found in smaller cities within the state:

  • Mechanicsburg – 14 crashes, 17 deaths – this 20-mile stretch of I-81 runs from Carlisle to Harrisburg, cutting directly through Mechanicsburg, a tiny borough with a rough population of 8,900. This seemingly small stretch of highway east of Harrisburg is responsible for 14 total crashes leading to 17 deaths – ranking third overall on our list.
  • Bensalem – 14 crashes, 15 deaths – spanning 14 miles, this segment of Street Rd ranked fourth overall. Running through Warminster, Southampton, and Bensalem, this major arterial road accounted for 14 deadly collisions – leading to 15 fatalities.
  • Easton – 10 crashes, 14 deaths – an 11-mile stretch of PA State Route 33, this segment north of Easton ranked fifth overall with 10 crashes and 14 deaths.
  • Washington – 9 crashes, 11 deaths – although this segment of I-70 ranked ninth overall with 9 fatal crashes and 11 deaths, these all occurred across 31 long, looping miles of highway – a relatively low density of crashes and fatalities compared to other segments in our list.

Data and Methodology

Our study used fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS program for the years 2015 – 2017 (2018 data is unavailable at this time).  Road data came from the Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access open data portal.

To identify deadly stretches, we used GIS software and applied 2.5-mile buffer around each crash.  Crashes with overlapping buffers where grouped into segments that ran until the encountered a section with no other crashes.

*Related Study* – For more Pennsylvania data and safety information, view our recent study about the Deadliest Intersections in Allegheny County.

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