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Wrong-way driver pleads guilty in fatal accident

A head-on crash in Pennsylvania's O'Hara Township left a 31-year-old man dead on Feb. 24, 2013. The driver who caused the accident pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide associated with drunk driving on Feb. 25. His attorney said the driver wished to spare the dead man's family from going through a lengthy trial.

The accident occurred on Pennsylvania Route 28 around 12:30 a.m. when the 64-year-old Penns Hill resident was heading south on northbound 28 starting at the Highland Park exit. The driver continued traveling southbound and was seen by another motorist as he narrowly missed hitting his vehicle. The driver of that vehicle pulled off the roadway to avoid an accident. A third vehicle was unable to avoid being hit. Black box data showed the wrong-way driver slowed his vehicle from 52 to 33 mph. The driver of the vehicle hit by the wrong-way driver, a resident of Indiana County, died from injuries suffered in the crash.

Pennsylvania hit-and-run crash kills 1

A 2 p.m. crash on the 700 block of Route 56 in Kiski Township on Feb. 13 occurred when a 34-year-old man attempted to turn left in an SUV into a parking lot and crossed a small car's path. After the crash, the SUV's driver fled the scene on foot into the woods. Police captured the man a couple hours later in Apollo. Authorities delayed dismissal for some Apollo-Ridge School District students because of the search and road closure.

Officials transported the car's 61-year-old driver to a local hospital where a hospital representative stated he died. The accident also injured the SUV's passenger and seriously injured the car's passenger. The SUV's driver refused treatment. However, police took him to a hospital for examination after handcuffing him, and they got a warrant to test his blood alcohol content.

Drunk driving accident and fatality rates

Social attitudes toward drunk driving have changed in recent years, but Pennsylvania residents may be dismayed to learn how prevalent this dangerous behavior remains. Statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that more than 10,000 fatalities occurred around the country in 2012 in car accidents attributed to impaired driving. The annual cost of alcohol related accidents is estimated to be close to $60 billion by the safety agency.

The death toll from drunk driving accidents in 2012 represented more than 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in that year. More disturbingly, data reveals that over half of the children under the age of 14 who lost their lives on the nation's roads in 2012 were traveling in a vehicle with an intoxicated individual behind the wheel.

Doctors and parents may be responsible for measles outbreak

In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States largely due to large scale vaccination efforts. However, a rapidly spreading measles outbreak has 2015 on pace to become the worst year for the disease in two decades. As of Feb. 6, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 120 people in 17 states and the District of Columbia have been infected. Medical experts believe one reason for the sharp rise in measles cases is young, inexperienced doctors who are slow to recognize symptoms of a disease they have never seen. People who are infected with measles are extremely contagious for four or more days prior to becoming symptomatic with pink eye, fever and a distinct rash. However, the symptoms are also common to other ailments, which makes measles difficult to diagnose.

Another primary cause for the spike in infections is a movement of parents who refuse or delay vaccinations for their children, believing vaccines cause autism and other harmful conditions. The movement has caused the number of parents who refuse vaccinations for their children to double in the last seven years, leaving some communities more vulnerable to the disease. For example, many California counties now fall below the 92 percent vaccination threshold considered essential for maintaining herd immunity.

Distracted driving accident facts

Performing secondary activities while driving such as talking on a cellphone, texting or eating can lead to car accidents in Pennsylvania. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around nine people are killed each day in the United States in crashes that involve a distracted driver. What's more, about 1,153 people are injured every day in distracted driving accidents.

Driving distractions that can lead to an accident may be visual, manual, cognitive or a combination of the three. Because texting requires that a driver use their eyes, mind and hands all at once, texting while driving is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. Although they are meant to help drivers, in-vehicle technologies like navigation systems can also be highly distracting.

Allegedly fatigued driver strikes pedestrian

Early this week, a man was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for hitting and killing a jogger with his car in Pennsylvania. The Carbon County man was observed driving erratically around noon on the day he allegedly struck and killed the jogger.

After hitting the jogger, his car crashed into a utility pole. The driver claimed to have been en route to a doctor when he was said to have fallen asleep at the wheel. The judge in the case believed that the killing was unintentional, but stated that a sleepy driver has an obligation to pull over instead of endangering others by continuing to drive. The district attorney stated that the death was not an accident but was the result of a deliberate decision to continue to drive while impaired.

How car accidents cause whiplash

Whether injuries are detected immediately or observed days or weeks later, whiplash can play a significant role in practically any type of car accident that may occur in the Philadelphia area. Whiplash is a general term used to describe injuries to the neck, often resulting in the strain or sprain of neck muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues.

When a vehicle collision occurs, these ligaments and tissues supporting the vertebrae may become torn or separated, typically causing some type of pain or discomfort that can be either temporary or life-changing should symptoms linger. This type of injury commonly occurs in car accidents, especially rear-end collisions. It is the back-and-forth whipping action that frequently results in neck trauma. However, the symptoms of whiplash may not be immediately evident following an accident.

Pennsylvania Marine killed in fiery collision

A 27-year-old Marine died in a fiery, four-vehicle crash in Pennsylvania on Jan. 2. The accident occurred in Susquehanna County at approximately 4:20 p.m.

Authorities said the Marine was in his 2013 Dodge Durango at a stop sign on Route 3004 when he was struck from behind by an International truck whose driver failed to stop as he descended a hill. The impact slammed the Dodge into a 2013 Kenworth tractor-trailer in front of it. The Kenworth then rear-ended another tractor-trailer. The Dodge and the International truck both caught fire.

Drugged driving and car accident rates

As many Pennsylvania drivers know, drugged driving is hazardous to the driver and other motorists. While the number of drugged drivers is lower than those using alcohol alone, drugs are used at a significant rate by drivers in certain age groups. In 2009, 18 percent of drivers who died in accidents used at least one drug before driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Making drivers aware of the dangers and using surveys such as Monitoring the Future may help to reduce the number of drug-related crashes.

Young drivers are most affected after using drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an analysis of records shows that 23 percent of drivers killed in an accident were under 25. A 2010 MTF survey concluded 12 percent of high school-age teenagers reported using marijuana before driving.

Head-on crash in Pennsylvania injures 5

A Dec. 21 traffic accident involving an Amish buggy and an SUV left five people injured in Harrison Township, authorities stated. A third vehicle nearing the Marsh Creek Road accident site ran off the roadway trying to avoid the collision.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, the Potter County incident occurred around 7 a.m. That is when the horse-drawn carriage, which was carrying five people, collided with a GMC pickup truck driven by a 62-year-old man. Purportedly, the GMC truck had been traveling south on Marsh Creek Road when it entered the northbound lane attempting to pass a Chevrolet Silverado and collided with the northbound buggy. The head-on collision caused both the buggy and the GMC truck to flip, and it was the Chevrolet Silverado that left the roadway trying to elude them, authorities reported. The Chevrolet driver was a 51-year-old Mills man, authorities said.

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