Pennsylvania drivers are bad, but so is enforcement

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Apparently, Pennsylvania drivers are just the worst.

(Dating a born-and-bred northern New Jersey guy, I’m often privy to this particular gripe. His list of expletives crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge often rivals Colin Firth’s delightfully British rant from “The King’s Speech.”)

But maybe it’s not our fault. A study released Wednesday by WalletHub indicates that Pennsylvania is the second-most lenient state when it comes to risky driving behaviors. The Commonwealth ranked poorly on DUI prevention and penalties and reckless driving penalties.

Arizona is considered the strictest state, and South Dakota came in dead last.

According to previous data compiled by WalletHub, a free credit score monitoring company, Pennsylvania is pretty lenient on DUIs, too. Unlike in other states, DUIs don’t become felonies in the Commonwealth, and there is no adminsitrative license suspension.

In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 10,550 alcohol related crashes in the state, a number that decreased from 11,041 in the previous year.

When it comes to speeding and reckless driving, Pennsylvania doesn’t use automatic speed cameras, and drivers don’t have their licenses suspended when they are convicted of reckless driving. (Which, by the way, carries only a $200 fine, among the lowest in the nation.)

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transporation, speeding, drinking while driving and distracted driving collectively accounted for more than 55,000 crashes in 2014, resulting in more than 600 fatalities.

One WalletHub analyst said reckless driving and weak enforcement go hand-in-hand.

“When drivers know that penalties are close to nonexistent in a certain area, risky behavior increases,” Jill Gonzalez told Metro via email.

So while Pennsylvania’s drivers are considered among the worst in the nation, we’re not entirely to blame.

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