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Poconos Coal

Pa. highway deaths lowest ever

2013 total lowest since recordkeeping started in 1928

Pa highways safer

Pennsylvania roads were a little safer last year.

Transportation officials say the number of highway deaths in the state in 2013 dropped to 1,208.

PennDOT says that's the lowest figure since highway fatality records began to be collected in 1928.

"Though Pennsylvania has made significant progress in reducing highway crashes and deaths, our efforts to ensure that all travelers reach their destinations safely will remain paramount," said PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch said.

"However, our efforts cannot reach their potential if drivers refuse to do their part by observing traffic laws and always using common sense on our roads," he added.

Fatalities in crashes involving a drinking driver were also down significantly-- 342,  down from 377.

That's the lowest number since 1997, when this data collection began.

Not all categories decreased though.

The number of deaths in crashes involving distracted drivers increased to 64, up from 57 in 2012.

The total number of deaths in 2013 included:

* Berks County: 42
* Carbon County: 16
* Lehigh County: 30
* Monroe County: 25
* Northampton County: 18
* Schuylkill County: 23

The department says it has spent $50 million in the past five years on safety improvements.

PennDOT also invests about $20 million annually in state and federal funds for safety education and enforcement efforts statewide.

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