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Roads and bridges still face problems in Pennsylvania

There are a great many factors that go into keeping Pennsylvania's motorists safe. Or, in the alternative, there are lots of things that can go wrong, cause an accident and leave a driver injured or worse, dead.

A new study from the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission evaluated issues related to transportation in the state for 2015. The report found that many things are going well in Pennsylvania, and that the state has made improvements with driver safety.

Drunk driving deaths in 2013 were the lowest since the state began tracking that statistic back in the 1980s. There has also been a decline in distracted and drowsy driving deaths. Considering we drive more miles today than in the past, this is good news, but as the family of anyone killed in this type of crash, even one death is too many.

Other problems for Pennsylvania drivers remain. Bridges in the state still have a high rate of structural problems, with 35 percent of bridges in towns and municipalities classified as structurally deficient, and that number has been going up.

While structurally deficient does not mean the bridge is in danger of collapse, it does mean it has maintenance issues that need to be dealt with to prevent a catastrophic failure. In a state like Pennsylvania, that has thousands of bridges, this is a complex and expensive issue.

And as all motorists in the state recognize, there are a lot of bad roads in the state. In fact, 8,821 miles have been rated as "poor." Poor road condition is more than an inconvenience, with deteriorated surfaces and pot holes potentially leading to blowouts and loss of control for the unsuspecting driver.

With all of that needed road repair, the state needs to improve the safety of worker, as work zone crashes have increased. But seat belt usage has improved, but it is not a primary law, which would all stricter enforcement and could save another 52 lives per year. That may not sound like a lot, unless you are one of the 52.

Pennlive.com, "5 things to know about a new report on Pennsylvania's roads, bridges and transportation system," Christian Alexandersen, February 19, 2015

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