The fifth most populated state in the country, Pennsylvania logged 101.1 billion car miles in 2017. All those miles create a ton of risk for drivers in the Pennsylvania roads.
In 2017, there were 128,188 reported car accidents in Pennsylvania, which was the 12thlowest total since 1950 (when crashes were first reported). In 2017, their fatality rate of 1.12 per hundred million vehicle miles of travel was the lowest ever recorded since the department started keeping records of it in 1935.
Pennsylvania drivers have always ranked as one of the better driving states in QuoteWizard’s best and worst driving states study. They came in at number 38 on our list in 2018, making PA the 13th best driving state in the country. And how do PA cities compare to the rest of the country? Allentown and Philadelphia rated among the best driving cities in the country, while Pittsburgh wasn’t far behind at 49th worst driving city.
East vs. West Pennsylvania: Who Drives Better?
The social make up of East vs west in PA is hard to quantify when it comes to driver quality. The eastern part of the state is home to more populated cities, which tend to present more risk on the roads. However, we’ve seen Pittsburgh rank worse than both Allentown and Philadelphia in our national driver study. You’ll see more cities from eastern PA on both lists, but you’ll be surprised to see western PA cities ranking high on the best and worst lists.
To rank Pennsylvania cities on overall driver quality, we compiled over 100,000 data points from QuoteWizard users in Pennsylvania. We compared overall incidents counts for accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, and citations in 2018. We then calculated the rate of incidents across each city. Below are rankings of the top 20 worst driving cities with the highest rate of incidents, and the top 20 safest driving cities with the lowest rate of incidents.
Worst Driving Cities
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The worst driving city in PA is a western PA town! About 30 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh, Irwin takes the top spot when it comes to frequency of incidents in the state. Tucked between highway 30 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Irwin sees quite a bit of traffic heading east from Pittsburgh. Westmoreland County, where Irwin resides, accounted for 3,245 crashes in 2017. This was 2.5% of the entire state’s accidents.
Sandwiched between three intersecting highways (322, 30 and 282), there are plenty of high traffic points in Downingtown to produce high rate of incidents. It’s a smaller city of about 8,000, likely dealing with a high volume of drivers commuting between Lancaster and Philadelphia. Chester County had 4,777 accidents in 2017, 3.7% of all Pennsylvania crashes.
Phoenixville is another Chester County near the top of PA's worst driving cities. Unlike it’s fellow Chester County city Downingtown, Phoenixville doesn’t have any major highways passing through. It leads some to wonder if the bad driving habits of Phoenixville are an isolated issue.
Like Downingtown, Ephrata is situated between three intersecting highways (322, 272, and 222). However, highway traffic isn’t the only problematic traffic in town. It’s unfortunate to see Ephrata, which resides in the heart of Amish country, so high on the list. Sharing the roads with vulnerable horse and buggy drivers can cause confusion. LancasterOnline reports 189 injury-causing crashes involving horse and buggies from 2008 to 2017, four of them fatal.
Just north of Lancaster, Lititz is another fellow Lancaster County city among the worst drivers in the state. Lancaster Country accounted for 5,822 crashes (4.5% of all Pennsylvania crashes), giving the county one of the highest accident totals in the state.
A smaller town of around 14,000 residents, Pottsville is home to the safest drivers in Pennsylvania. The rural roads and minimal traffic through the intersecting highways make it an idea place for safe driving habits to flourish. Pottsville resides in the heart of Schuylkill county, which accounted for 1,367 car crashes – 1.1% of all PA car crashes in 2017.
Just on the other side of the Susquehanna river from fellow safe driving city Wilkes-Barre, Kingston takes runner up for safest driving city in Pennsylvania. Being a fairly small borough of 12,800 people with only one intersecting highway keeps the traffic down and the drivers safe. Kingston resides in Luzerne county which had 3,604 car accidents in 2017, 2.8% of all crashes in the state.
Down the Susquehanna river you’ll find another safe driving city in Middletown. It’s 10 miles away from another safe driving city in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Turnpike that helps make Irwin a bad driving city also passes through Middletown. But Middletown apparently bucks the trend of the Turnpike being home to bad drivers. Dauphin county had 3,457 car accidents in 2017, accounting for 2.7% of the state total.
Sunbury is the third city on our best driving list that sits next to the Susquehanna, which begs the question – what are they putting in the water? Perhaps there is a calming effect the Susquehanna river has on its nearby residents. Northumberland county was responsible for 703 car crashes in 2017, just .6% of crashes in PA.
Sitting right on the New Jersey / Pennsylvania state line, Stroudsburg rounds out the top five safest driving cities in the state. Stroudsburg is in Monroe county, which neighbors Luzerne county, home to fellow safe driving cities Kingston and Wilkes-Barre. Monroe county totaled 2,546 accidents, 1.9% of state-wide accidents in 2017.
We used 2018 incident stats with more than 100,000 data points from QuoteWizard users across Pennsylvania. To quantify overall driver quality for comparison, we compared incident counts for each city with its frequency of users. The final rankings are determined by cities with the highest rate of incidents (accidents, speeding tickets, DUI, and citations).