Where the Valley’s fatal crashes happened in 2018
Despite efforts to prevent traffic deaths across the Lehigh Valley, 47 people died last year in 43 crashes, according to newly released PennDOT data.
And while that may be too many for comfort, both figures marked record lows in the Lehigh Valley over the last 20 years, according to PennDOT data. Nineteen crashes resulted in 21 deaths in Northampton County, while 24 crashes killed 26 people in Lehigh County, according to data on the Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool website. The website’s data stretches to 1999.
The previous lows were set in 2013, when 45 local wrecks killed 48 people. The Lehigh Valley’s all-time high came in 2005, when 81 people died in 77 crashes.
Traffic deaths across the U.S. had been in decline for decades thanks to improvements in vehicle safety, seat belt laws and cultural intolerance for drunken driving. That trend ended around 2016, and experts have blamed the reversal on cheaper gas, a stronger economy and cellphone distractions becoming more common. While Pennsylvania saw its traffic deaths increase by 4.6% last year over 2017, its road fatality figures have been fairly consistent since 2013.
Last year’s fatal crashes ranged from multivehicle pileups on Route 22 to a woman being hit while crossing a city street. They varied from the all-too-common cases of drivers going off the road to freak accidents, like when a part of the Lehigh Tunnel fell and killed a trucker driving through. a red light and hit two other vehicles, according to prosecutors. PennDOT records indicate two people died in the crash, but Lehigh County prosecutors said a third victim died of his injuries four months later.
One person died in the other crash, between a minivan and tractor-trailer.
The problem intersection has shown up on the radars of regional planners, who have dedicated money to improving the corner. While engineers started reviewing the location, they have not yet determined what changes will be made, according to PennDOT spokesman Sean Brown. The PennDOT website and the Lehigh Valley’s Transportation Improvement Plan indicate the early thought is to replace the intersection with an overpass.
The township’s five deadly wrecks tied Allentown for the most in the region, but none of the Queen City’s fatal accidents killed more than one person, according to PennDOT data.
First responders work at a deadly crash last year at the intersection of Route 309 and Center Valley Parkway in Upper Saucon Township.