CBD Changing How We Think About Weed and DUI in Pennsylvania

Medical marijuana is shaking up public opinion about weed in the United States. More and more states are working to legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, throwing a wrench in our understanding of one of the most federally-regulated drugs. Surveys show 64% of Americans now approve legalizing marijuana use.

But with changing regulations around recreational and medicinal pot, there are new concerns about driving under the influence. How can you keep dangerous users off the road? What protocols are in place for DUI? And are those rules appropriate?

Pennsylvania voted to approve medical marijuana in 2016. Since then more than 21,500 people have registered for the program. As the marijuana market grows, different types of products are becoming available. Each of those products affects the body differently, raising some concerns about how to police driving under the influence.

CBD as Medical Marijuana

Pot plants contain hundreds of chemical compounds. The two most well known are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the “high” or psychoactive effects typically associated with marijuana. CBD is not psychoactive, but produces some alternative changes in the body. As a result, many are turning to CBD compounds for medical benefit.

As marijuana is becoming more commercially available, research is pointing to CBD as a cure for various illnesses. Some studies show medical marijuana could have a dramatic effect in reversing the opioid crisis plaguing millions of Americans.

A Natural Alternative to Cure Disease

CBD-based marijuana products are being researched as a natural cure for dozens of illnesses and symptoms commonly treated with prescription drugs, including:

  • Inflammation and chronic pain
  • Anxiety (PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders)
  • Insomnia
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Certain cancers
  • Nicotine addiction and drug withdrawals
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Acne

Seniors and Baby Boomers are turning to medical marijuana and CBD products at a rapid rate, according to marijuana industry leaders. They claim older patients are becoming less hesitant about marijuana because it’s being commercially controlled for consistency. And as more cannabis-infused supplements, creams, sprays, and medications are hitting the market, older generations are shifting toward the natural remedies.  

Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

The first medical marijuana sales in Pennsylvania began in February 2018, following the approval of a program called Act 16. Patients with serious medical conditions now can get their hands on medicinal cannabis products with the recommendation of a state-certified doctor.

Legalization has been life-changing for some patients. One of the first women to buy in Pennsylvania said it helped reduce her son’s seizures from more than 400 per day to fewer than 50. Now even more states are legalizing medical marijuana to treat things like epilepsy. Here’s the full list.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

So how does this play out on the roads? Drivers could be convinced of DUI if they’re found with more than one nanogram of THC per milliliter of blood in their system. But there’s a slippery slope here. Cannabis is stored in fat cells, so users can test positive for marijuana even if they’re not currently under the influence. Frequent users could test positive days, weeks, or even months after the psychoactive effect wears off. As a result, sober users could be at risk for DUI under current law.

CBD marijuana complicates this even further. Because CBD is not psychoactive, people who use only CBD-based products likely won’t test positive. DUI drug tests are meant to detect THC. However, research has shown that CBD affects how the body metabolizes certain compounds. So CBD users who also use marijuana may show higher levels of THC in their system for longer periods of time.

State police are now calling for changes to DUI drug laws, to protect medical marijuana patients. Under current law, patients with prescriptions will be at high-risk for DUI every time they get behind the wheel. In contrast to the strong policing, studies show states where medical marijuana is legal have seen up to an 11% decrease in traffic deaths.

CBD Research

While there are promising correlations between CBD and treating many serious illnesses, researchers warn there is more work to be done before in understanding how CBD affects the body. Right now, there isn’t any long-term data showing lasting effects of using medicinal cannabis. Because marijuana is illegal on the federal level, researchers are very limited in the kind of tests they can organize.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any CBD products for treatment. It can be difficult to understand exactly what’s inside certain products, because they lack any federal regulation. If you’re considering CBD health products, consult a medical professional.

The Bike Sharing Movement That’s About to Hit Philly

The city of Philadelphia has recently opened the door to a new wave of transportation – dockless bike sharing. Soon, bike sharing companies will be popping up in Center City and eventually will take over their new home, our sidewalks. Bike Sharing companies, such as LimeBike and Spin, offer tourists and local residents the opportunity to freely hop on and off bicycles. New trends such as dock-less bikes allow for a fresh burst or urban mobility and transportation, similar to what Uber and Lyft did a few years ago. Dockless bikes have taken off in buzzing metropolises such as Washington, D.C, Seattle, and Dallas. It’s fair to say, it’s only a matter of time before these bikes hit the streets of Philly.

These app-driven transit options are a convenient way to hop around the city because they allow users to hop on and off anywhere including residential areas and busy pedestrian pathways in the center of the city. Investors around the country are pouring money into scooter and bike startups. Limebike has emerged as one of the top bicycle sharing companies at the moment, the bikes unique green color and cheap prices are what make it such a standout. Service typically starts at one-dollar for a 30-minute ride. It was founded in January 2017 and raised 12 million dollars in funding. Each bicycle is equipped with GPS units and 3G connectivity.

Global Takeover

Lime Bike Expansion Across the USA

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Limebikes first location launched at The University of North Carolina in June 2017 and has since broadened to cities across the US. The expansion is so rapid they can’t seem to keep up with demand – on their website you can “vote” to bring Limebike to your city or college campus.

Bike-Sharing Backlash

These distributions of bikes around many cities seem to have happened overnight across the nation. This has caused a lot of backfire from locals due to their scattershot manners and random placements. Unlike other bike rentals such as Indego, a Philly based bike sharing company that has fixed docking locations, new bike share companies have created what some may argue as chaotic addition to Urban landscapes that interferes with public space.  According to the Philadelphia bicycle injury lawyers at Anapol Weiss, bike accidents occur in areas of high traffic and according to Pennsylvania law, bicyclists over the age of 12 are not required to wear helmets. This can be a recipe for disaster because an increase in bicycles in the city maximizes the chances for bicycle-related accidents.

The biggest concern around cities right now is where the dockless bikes will be stored and how they will be collected around certain areas in the city. Many believe that the tiny streets in the dense parts of Philly can cause this to be a problem. It seems like the only ideal place with ample room to park a bike would be near intersections or by stop-signs — a place where most bicycle accidents generally occur. The real danger is the fact that once the bike is abandoned on the street, the person who docked it there is no longer responsible for its whereabouts. As a result, they have no incentive to ensure it won’t fall over or get in the way of pedestrians or even other bikers.

Do You Think Dockless Bike Sharing Will Benefit Philadelphia?

Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise in Philadelphia

According to new data, motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania are higher than they have been in three years. It’s a well known fact that motorcycles are inherently less stable, less visible and offer less protection than a traditional motor vehicle. They are a popular and an economic means of transportation in the city of Philadelphia, the meandering roads and narrow city streets make motorcycles a practical choice to get around. Knowing the trends and being aware of road dangers, fatality rates and taking safety precautions can help keep riders safe.

According to the Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyers at Anapol Weiss, motorcycle accidents commonly occur when:

  • Motorcycle parts malfunction
  • Passenger vehicle drivers fail to see motorcyclists
  • There’s roadway hazards, including loose gravel, construction zones or standing water that prevent motorcycles from maintaining balance
  • Motorcyclists or cars engage in reckless behavior that causes an accident

A Look at the Most Recent Motorcycle Statistics in Philadelphia:

  • In 2016, there were 3,454 motorcycle accidents.
  • Across most age groups and all vehicle accidents, 3 out of 4 drivers in crashes were male
  • 192 of these accidents were fatal
  • 174 deaths were drivers, while 18 were passengers
  • 3,321 riders were injured
  • Total motorcycle crashes increased 1.2% from 2015
  • Fatal motorcycle accidents increased 7.3% from 2015
  • Of those deaths, 49% were not wearing a helmet

According to Data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “A total of 4,976 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2016 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.”

Although there has been a shallow decline in the number of deaths throughout the years, new observations show 2016 hit an 8 year high for both motorcycle vehicle crashes and passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Driver Involvement in Alcohol Related Crashes

According to the most recently released national data, in 2016 motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers to total drivers compared to drivers in other vehicles. Drunk drivers on motorcycles accounted for 7.7% of total crashes.

  • 26% of fatally injured motorcyclists had a Blood Alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit (0.08%)
  • 37% of drivers were above the legal limit in single vehicle crashes
  • 47% of motorcycle drivers were killed at night or in the early morning hours (9 p.m – 6 a.m) and had BAC’s at or above the legal limit

Motorcycle Type and Engine Size a Variable Factor

According to the report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it’s possible there is a direct correlation between engine size and motorcycle accidents. A look at the numbers reveals 33% of motorcyclists killed in 2016 had engines larger than 1,400 CC. This is compared to 9% in 2000 and less than 1% in 1990.

The majority of fatal motorcycle accidents across the nation in 2016 occurred on a Touring bike with an engine larger than 1,400 CC. Among the fatally injured, 96% of touring bike drivers were 30 or older. Additionally, 84% of standard bike riders were 30 and over.

engine type and motorcycle type a variable factor in accidents

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In 2017, there was 845,977 registered motorcyclists on the road in Pennsylvania. Motorcycles are a cost efficient and enjoyable form of transportation. It’s unfortunate that these accidents are inevitable on the streets of Philadelphia. However, wearing a helmet, avoiding riding at night and using proper safety gear that keeps you visible and safe can greatly contribute to staying safe on the roads. In addition, traveling at safe speeds and using proper turn signals can benefit all pedestrians, bicyclists and cars on the road. Practicing safe and responsible riding will keep Philly roads safer.

 

Crashes Involving Hand-held Phones On The Rise In Pennsylvania

Research from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that the number of fatalities involving Pennsylvania drivers using hands-free or hand-held phones has climbed in recent years. This data shows that drivers who used hand held devices are in more accidents than those who use hands free. This is because hands free devices give the driver more control over the wheel and place more emphasis on focusing on the road.

This numbers also places emphasis on current Pennsylvania phone laws that do not prohibit the use of handheld cell phone use behind the wheel.
Hand held crashes are much more common all over the country and place drivers is a more vulnerable, distracted state. According to the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Anapol Weiss and data reported by PennDot, every day at least three people die from car accidents in Pennsylvania and there are approximately 15 crashes reported per hour. They explain negligence, such as driving while talking on the phone or texting is directly related to the high number of traffic accidents each year in both Pennsylvania urban and rural areas.

Counties in Pennsylvania with the most amount of hand-held crashes and fatalities include:

Pennsylvania Counties With Hand-Held Crash Stats 2016

A Closer Look at the Data

  • Allegheny had one hand-held related fatal accidents and 632 crashes
  • Montgomery had two hand-held related fatalities and 396 total crashes
  • Philadelphia had only one hand-held related fatality and 336 total crashes

Luckily, these types of crashes are generally “fender-bender” crashes that involve very minor injuries. Although the fatality rate for hand held crashes are low, it still doesn’t mean they’re safe. Hand-held or hands-free car accidents can be extremely dangerous, costly, and can cause major traffic delays. A closer look at the data shows an increase in  hand-held phones and hands-free phone accidents every year:

Hands free phones statistics 2016

Hand Held Phone Statistics Pennsylvania 2016

Pennsylvania Cell Phone Laws

Conventional wisdom and the Pennsylvania texting-while-driving  ban prohibits any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write a text message while your vehicle is in motion:

  • Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.
  • Defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.
  • Institutes a $50 fine for convictions under this section.
  • Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.

The state of Pennsylvania currently does not prohibit the use of hand-held phones but does prohibit IWCD’s (Interactive Wireless Communication Device). An IWCD prohibits reading, sending or surfing the web on your phone and includes wireless phones, portable or mobile tablets and computers. Having a ban on hand-held phones can positively impact collision rates according to a study conducted in 2012 by the University of California, Berkeley. The study analyzed driving accidents in California during the first four years California’s hand-held ban was in place.

Their study found:

  • Traffic deaths dropped 22%
  • Death among hands-free drivers dropped at a similar rate
  • Deaths blamed on drivers using handheld phones went down and by 47%
  • The number of physical injuries in the state declined overall and the ban ultimately resulted in less distracted drivers on the road.

Although hand held phone laws are not currently implemented in Pennsylvania, a closer examination of the facts can demonstrate that any phone activity behind the wheel is dangerous and can result in a yearly increase in accidents and fatalities.

Pennsylvania Winter Driving Safety

From 2011 to 2015, Pennsylvania was considered one of the top five deadliest states for winter car accidents. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pennsylvania had an average of about 83 fatal car accidents during the winter months, topping the list at number three.

Causes of Winter Accidents

Unfortunately, 25% of these fatal Pennsylvania car accidents involve out-of-state drivers. The reason behind this? Weather conditions that out-of-staters have never seen before. And although fatal winter accidents can be caused by a number of factors, the main culprit is the weather. In fact, 1 out of 5 car accidents occur during inclement weather. The following are the leading causes of winter accidents on the road.

Poor Visibility

During the winter months blizzards, hail, heavy snow, rain and fog can reduce visibility on the roads and increase the risk of an accident. In addition, snow pile up on the road can make it harder for drivers to see traffic signs, pedestrians, vehicles and other objects along the road.

Slippery Roads

Sometimes the causes of car accidents on the road are also caused by things we can’t see. When it rains or temperature drops down, roads can be come slippery with black ice. Black ice on the road forms from light freezing rain or snow that has melted and re-freezed.

Car Condition

Steering through harsh weather is already tough enough, but having a vehicle that’s not equipped to do so is detrimental. If you car has worn out or bald tires, your risk of getting in an accident from the road conditions are increased since your tires have poor traction. Broken headlights or taillights, defroster fans, and windshield wipers can all effect how you navigate through winter weather.

Excess Snow

That’s right, snow itself can cause major winter accidents. Snow or ice left on vehicles can fly off and cause serious injuries or damage to yourself or others on the road. In fact, you can be fined you up yo $1,000 in Pennsylvania if ice and snow projecting off of your car injures someone or causes damage.

How to Avoid Winter Accidents

So what can you do to protect yourself and other drivers on the road while traveling during wintertime? Now that you know the causes, here are some winter safety tips to follow to prepare for and avoid deadly winter accidents:

  • Get your car serviced regularly
  • Clear the snow of off your car before heading out on the road
  • Always carry a winter emergency kit in your car (i.e. shovel, ice scraper, gloves, extra blankets)
  • Never head out on a big trip without a full tank of gas
  • Don’t break, speed up or swerve to avoid black ice – instead, keep calm and keep your steering wheel straight
  • Use your fog lights for low visibility conditions
  • Be alert and cautious at all times

Preparing your self and your vehicle for winter is going to decrease your risk of accidents and keep you safe in any weather!

Highest Ranking Holiday For Crashes In Pennsylvania

With the holiday season approaching, the number of cars on the road increase due to people traveling to and from home to celebrate. Which means a higher chance of car crashes and fatalities. But which holiday is most likely to cause an accident on the road?

For folks in Pennsylvania, it’s Thanksgiving. Which makes sense, since over 50 million people in the U.S. will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving this year. Making this year’s Thanksgiving travel volume the highest it’s ever been since 2005, as reported by AAA.

According to PennDOT, there were a total of 18,449 crashes and 213 fatalities just over the holidays in 2016. Of those, 4,500 crashes and 54 fatalities occurred surrounding Thanksgiving alone.  So how does that stack up to other holidays? Below are graphs courtesy of PennDOT that represent the ranking in descending order, of total crashes and fatalities,  for each holiday period.

pennsylvania holiday crash statistics

Unfortunately, the majority of these holiday-related crashes involve alcohol. In fact, alcohol-related car and pedestrian accident fatalities accounted for 32% of all Pennsylvania fatalities that occurred during holiday weekends in 2016.

So if you’re planning to travel this holiday reason, remember to drink responsibility and keep an eye out for drunk drivers on the road. You can help avoid drunk driving accidents and other serious Pennsylvania car accidents this holiday season by following these steps:

  • Always have a designated driver if you plan to drink alcohol
  • Watch out for motorcyclists and other vehicles sharing the road with you
  • Don’t text and drive or engage in any other distracted driving activities
  • Be alert and obey all traffic laws
  • Make sure you and all of your passengers are buckles up at all times
  • Give yourself enough time so that you are not driving in a hurry

The holidays are for celebrating, spending time with loved ones, and enjoying delicous foods – they’re not for car accidents. So take the right steps to prevent car accidents and keep you and your family safe this holiday season!

Deer Crashes On The Rise In Pennsylvania

Deer mating season is here, so your chances of being involved in a deer-related crash is at it’s highest. Fall and early Winter is considered to be peak mating season for deer, so be extra cautious of your surroundings while driving between October and December.

Deer Crash Statistics

According to State Farm’s annual deer claim study, Pennsylvania ranked #3 in the country for deer-related car accidents. That means that every time you get behind the wheel in Pennsylvania, there is a 1 in 67 chance of hitting a deer.

statefarmdeercollisionstatistics

The top 10 states at risk for hitting a deer include:

  1. West Virginia
  2. Montana
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Iowa
  5. Wisconsin
  6. South Dakota
  7. Minnesota
  8. Wyoming
  9. Michigan
  10. North Dakota

The highest state at risk is West Virginia, with 1 in 43 chances and Hawaii -not surprisingly – being the lowest risk state with 1 in 6,823 chances of hitting a deer while driving.

Under Pennsylvania state law, car accidents involving deer are considered not-at-fault accidents, and insurance companies are not legally allowed to increase policyholders’ premiums. But US drivers still spent an average of $4,179 on insurance claims for deer-related accidents across the country in between July 2016 to June 2017.

How To Avoid Deer-Related Collisions

According to statistics, deer collisions are more likely to occur around dawn and dusk. Daylight savings time ends in November, which will put more drivers on the road during peek deer activity hours. Drivers should be careful to remain alert and focused on the road especially during the early morning and late evening hours. Some other tips for preventing deer-related crashes altogether include:

  • Slow down and pay attention to all road signs (i.e. speed limit, deer crossing)
  • Wear a seat belt at all times
  • Avoid distracting activities while driving like texting or eating
  • If you see a deer on the side of the road, proceed with caution and be on the lookout for other deer crossing the road
  • Break to avoid hitting deer, but do not swerve

What To Do If You Do Hit A Deer

If you are involved in a deer collision, pull over safely and turn your hazard lights on. Document the incident so that you have all the necessary information if the collision results in injury or property damage.

If you hit a deer and it survives, stay away from the animal be cautious for any sudden movements as deer are unpredictable. However if the deer dies after a collision, The Pennsylvania Game Commission encourages drivers to report the incident as soon as possible to local authorities. You can also call the PA Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD to remove the deer from the road and prevent other motorists from any further danger.

You may not think that it could possibly happen to you, but taking the necessary precautions to avoid a deer-related accident is your best bet to stay safe.

 

A Closer Look at Drunk Driving in Pennsylvania

Drunk driving is never a good idea, and it rarely has a positive outcome. Drinking alcohol impairs judgment and delays your cognitive abilities, so adding driving to the equation is a recipe for disaster. Not only do you put yourself at risk, you put others at risk as well. Even though it seems like a no brainer to avoid drinking and driving, it continues to happen across the United States every single day.

Let’s Talk Numbers

Over 1.5 million people are arrested every year for DUI’s in the US. Just last year Pennsylvania saw a total of 19,518 DUI arrests. And over the last decade there was a whopping 53, 721 DUI arrests in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city. But sadly, for some people DUI arrests are not a threatening enough consequence to stop people from hopping behind the while again after a night of drinking. What people fail to realize is that deciding to drink and driving can not only land you in jail, but it can also land you and others involved in the hospital or worse – the morgue.  

2016 was said to be one of the worst years ever for drunk driving deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is an average of 30 people dying per day from a DUI-related accident. And unfortunately, about 10% of these fatalities were non-drinking drivers, passengers or innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported 10,256 drunk driving-related crashes in 2016. Of those, 297 of them were fatal.

The Good News

 Alcohol-related crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania have been trending downward since 2011. Companies like Lyft and Budweiser have been a part of that change, even teaming up last year to reduce drunk driving by distributing over 80,000 free ride vouchers to Lyft users. To keep the momentum going this year, Budweiser’s new campaign “Give a Damn. Don’t Drive Drunk.” is providing Lyft users with $20 round-trip rides credits to use during weekends and holidays across 10 states, including Pennsylvania.

So, How Can You Help?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a multimillion-dollar company to make a difference. You too can help reduce drunk driving by taking the following precautions:

  • Before drinking, always choose a designated driver, whether it be a non-drinking friend, taxi or calling a rideshare service like Lyft and Uber
  • Don’t let your loved one’s drive after drinking – offer to drive, take their keys away, or help them find a safe ride home
  • If you’re attending a special event somewhere and plan to drink, book a hotel or make arrangements to sleep over
  • Never get in a car with someone who has been drinking
  • Always buckle-up (to protect against drunk drivers on the road)
  • Report drunk drivers on the road if you suspect one

And most importantly, don’t drink and drive! Educate yourself and others on the dangers and consequences of drunk driving. The Pennsylvania State Police even offer free workshops or schools, community organizations, and businesses to raise awareness about drunk driving.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so taking the necessary precautions to avoid drunk driving can avoid jail time, injuries and death.

Pennsylvania Driver Involvement in Crashes by Age and Sex 2015

The Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes in Pennsylvania

Each year in the United States, the economic impacts of motor vehicle (MV) crashes total billions of dollars. More than property damage, these costs include medical and other related costs, lost productivity in the workplace, legal costs, and more.

Statistics reveal that in the state of Pennsylvania alone, the economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes was $14,121,634,477. That year, there were 127,127 traffic crashes reported that resulted in the loss of 1,200 lives, and 80,004 more being injured.

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, 2015), alcohol involved crashes account for nearly a quarter of all crash costs in the U.S. In Pennsylvania, Alcohol involved crashes accounted for approximately 8% of all crashes. These crashes were 4.5 times more likely to result in a fatality than those not involving alcohol. In all, 29% of those killed in crashes were a result of alcohol involvement.

 

Injury severity also increases with alcohol involvement. Drinkers not only experience distorted perception and judgment; slower reaction times also result. This is especially of concern, as drinking drivers tend to speed, and neglect other safety considerations, including seat belt and helmet use.

A study by Zhao, Zhang, and Rong (2014) found that drinking drivers were affected in these ways and others, including attitude, vigilance, and reaction to the environment. Additionally, speed was significantly higher in drinking drivers group as they were more impulsive and sensation seeking.

Prevention Reduces the Cost of Car Crashes

The best way to reduce the cost of MV crashes in the state is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Additionally, lessening the likelihood of severe injury or death if and when a crash does happen is also important. For example, consistently using safety belts and car seats is one way of doing this (CDC, 2013).

Strategies for preventing crashes include:

  • Graduated driver licensing
  • Ignition interlocks for those convicted of driving while intoxicated
  • Sobriety checkpoints

 

Resources

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812013
http://www.penndot.gov/TravelInPA/Safety/Documents/2015_CFB_linked.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/statecosts/pa-2015costofcrashdeaths-a.pdf