Cities in Pennsylvania With the Most and Least Safe Drivers
No matter where you live, safety is important — especially if you spend a lot of time on the road. Taking the time to learn about the biggest causes of driving-related accidents in your area can help keep you safe when you’re out and about.
Read on to learn more about the 25 safest Pennsylvania cities for drivers — and what you can do to make your city’s roads even safer.
How We Found the Safest Cities
To compile our list of Pennsylvania’s most and least safe cities for drivers, we analyzed county-based statistics in the State Traffic Safety Information for Year 2014 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admission (NHTSA). The counties were ranked based on their traffic fatality rate per 100,000 people, to adjust for population size discrepancies. We then applied those numbers to each county’s largest city or municipality.
How Pennsylvania Ranks Against the Rest of the Country
On par with the national average, Pennsylvania reported around nine vehicle-related fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2014 — 29 percent of which resulted from accidents that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. When we analyzed the state’s 25 safest counties for drivers, we found they averaged seven vehicle-associated deaths per 100,000 people, with only 26 percent being attributed to alcohol-impaired driving. Furthermore, three counties, Northumberland, Warren, and Mifflin, reported no alcohol-related traffic fatalities whatsoever.
Chester is one of Pennsylvania’s safest cities for drivers. And with roughly 34,000 residents, it’s also the most populated city in Delaware County. More than half of Delaware County’s roadway-related fatalities were single-vehicle crashes, and pedestrians accounted for eight of its 26 total fatalities.
- Lower Merion Township
Lower Merion Township is the largest community in Montgomery County, a suburban county situated northwest of Philadelphia. Speeding was a factor in 15 of Montgomery County’s 38 traffic-related fatalities.
Pittsburgh, the second largest city in Pennsylvania and the largest in Allegheny County, is also one of the state’s safest places to drive. According to the NHTSA, alcohol-impaired driving contributed to about one-third of Allegheny County’s 59 vehicle-related fatalities.
- Lebanon Township
Lebanon County is located roughly 30 miles east of Harrisburg, in the Lebanon Valley. More people live in the city of Lebanon than in any other city in the county. In terms of traffic-related fatalities, Lebanon County experienced just eight in 2014, down from 15 in 2010. Motorcyclists accounted for two of these deaths, though helmets were used in both instances.
Famous for the American Civil War battle which took place there, Gettysburg is also earning a reputation as a safe place for motorists. It’s the most populated city in Adams County, which experienced a total of just six traffic-associated fatalities. Additionally, the data shows no motorcyclist or bicyclist fatalities.
Situated along the Ohio River, Aliquippa is Beaver County’s largest community. When it comes to the occurrence of fatal crashes, it’s one of the safest places to drive in the Keystone State. In 2014, nearly 30 percent of Beaver County’s 10 traffic-related deaths involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, though none involved large trucks or pedestrians.
We’re impressed that Philadelphia, the most populated city in Philadelphia County — and in the whole state — is one of Pennsylvania’s safest places to drive. More than 40 percent of Philadelphia County’s 97 total roadway fatalities occurred at or near an intersection. Further, nearly 70 percent of the county’s motorcyclist fatalities showed no helmet use.
Harrisburg is the county seat and the largest city in Dauphin County, which experienced almost 58 percent fewer traffic-associated fatalities in 2014 than it did in 2010. Alcohol was a factor in four of Dauphin County’s 17 vehicle-related deaths, though none of those fatalities were intersection-related.
Sunbury is the most populous place in Northumberland County, which cited a total of six roadway-related fatalities in 2014. Despite not being a dry county, none of Northumberland’s fatal accidents were attributed to alcohol-impaired driving, and all but one were single vehicle crashes.
- West Chester
As a whole, Chester County residents have the highest median household income in Pennsylvania — and they’re some of the state’s safest drivers. The historic city of West Chester is the most populated community in Chester County. Seatbelt use likely contributes to the county’s solid safety record, as more than 70 percent of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities showed proper restraint use. Additionally, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians accounted for less than half of the county’s 34 roadway fatalities.
- Bensalem Township
With a population of over 60,000, Bensalem Township is the largest city in Bucks County. The county is one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties, and now it’s being recognized as one of the state’s safest places to drive. According to the NHTSA, Bucks County reported 44 vehicle-related fatalities in 2014, and pedestrians accounted for eight of those deaths.
One-quarter of Warren County residents live in Warren, which is its county seat in addition to being the most populated city. Although even one is too many, Warren County experienced just three traffic-related fatalities in 2014 — none of which were due to alcohol-impaired driving.
- State College
College towns aren’t typically known for their safe drivers, but State College is an exception. Not only is it home to the greatest number of people in Centre County, it’s also a safe place to drive. Of Centre County’s 12 vehicle-related fatalities, three were motorcyclists — including one instance where no helmet was used — and two were pedestrians.
Reading residents will be glad to hear that they live in one of the Keystone State’s safest cities for drivers. Home to nearly 90,000 people, Reading is the most populated city in Berks County. Five of the county’s 33 vehicle-associated fatalities resulted from accidents that involved at least one driver with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.
Scranton has a lot going for it. It’s the biggest city in Lackawanna County, the setting for NBC’s popular sitcom, “The Office,” and it boasts a pretty safe driving record. Lackawanna County reported 17 traffic-related deaths in 2014, with almost 60 percent resulting from single vehicle accidents.
Johnstown lies in the southwestern part of rural Cambria County. It’s home to approximately 20,000 people, which makes it the county’s largest city. Like the other cities on our list, we congratulate Johnstown for its safe drivers. Of Cambria County’s 13 vehicle-related fatalities, 10 involved a roadway departure. There were also no pedestrian or cyclist fatalities, according to the data.
It’s no longer home to the massive steel producing company that shared its name, but Bethlehem is still the most populated city in Northampton County. Plus, it’s one of Pennsylvania’s least dangerous cities for drivers. Motorcyclists and pedestrians accounted for roughly one-third of the county’s total traffic-associated fatalities, though all of the motorcyclist fatalities did occur with helmet use.
Approximately 20 miles east of Pittsburgh lies Murrysville, the most populous city in Westmoreland County. The NHTSA reports that Westmoreland County experienced 35 total roadway-related fatalities in 2014, the vast majority of which resulted from single vehicle accidents.
York is the county seat and the most populated city in York County. Speeding was a factor in almost half of York County’s crash fatalities, and alcohol-impaired driving contributed to nine of the county’s 45 vehicle-related deaths. Additionally, just under half of the passenger vehicle occupant fatalities involved improper seatbelt use.
More Cumberland County residents live in Carlisle than any other city in the county. It’s one of Cumberland County’s oldest, most historic towns, and a safe place for drivers. All together, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists accounted for seven of the county’s 25 roadway fatalities.
Indiana locals have a lot to be proud of. Not only can they boast that they live in the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World” and Indiana County’s biggest city — they can also brag that they’re safe drivers. In 2014, nine total vehicle-related fatalities were reported in Indiana County, and alcohol-impaired driving was a factor in three of them. The county was free of any pedestrian, motorcyclist, or other cyclist fatalities.
- Blair County
Over 35 percent of Blair County locals live in Altoona, making it the county’s most populous city. Altoona’s downtown offers pedestrian-friendly streets and a central bike path, which could be one reason it’s on our list. Down from 20 in 2010, Blair County cited 13 roadway-related deaths in 2014, and none of those fatalities involved either pedestrians or cyclists.
Despite being one of the state’s fastest growing counties, Lehigh County is one of the least dangerous for drivers. Residents of Allentown, Lehigh County’s biggest city and the third most populated city in the state, also deserve kudos for their safe driving. About 40 percent of the county’s 37 traffic-related fatalities involved just one vehicle.
The historic, driver-safe borough of Danville is home to roughly one-quarter of Montour County’s citizens — making it the most populated city in the county. As one of the state’s geographically smallest counties, Montour County reported just two vehicle-related deaths in 2014.
Situated along the Juniata River, Lewistownis one of the Keystone State’s safest cities for drivers. It’s the largest city in Mifflin County, which experienced five roadway-related fatalities in 2014. None of them were attributed to alcohol-impaired driving.
Which Counties in Pennsylvania Have the Least Safe Drivers?
The Keystone State’s 10 least safe counties for drivers reported an average of 28 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2014 — which is approximately 3.6 times higher than the state’s safest counties. At 30 percent, the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities among the most dangerous counties for drivers was slightly higher than the state average, but it was lower than the national average of 31 percent. And, despite the less-than-perfect record, half of the 10 least safe counties had zero pedestrian fatalities, and all of them had zero cyclist fatalities. All in all, though the chance of being involved in a fatal accident in these counties is greater than it is in the state’s safest counties for drivers, these last 10 counties still offer plenty of positive attributes.