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Teen crash deaths up in U.S., down in Pennsylvania

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

More evidence today that a rebounding economy might be making our highways and roads more dangerous.

The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that preliminary data for the first half of 2012 shows a 19 percent increase in fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

But good news in Pennsylvania, one of 17 states were deaths among 16- and 17-year-olds declined, possibly owing to the state’s stricter laws for junior licensees.

The national rise follows eight years of decreases, “so we appear to be headed in the wrong direction,” GHSA says. “Despite these increases, deaths are much lower than five and ten years ago. We must be vigilant to get the numbers going the right way again.

“While it is too soon to know for sure what is causing the increase in teen driver fatalities, we suspect the growing economy is playing a role. Additionally, the pace of states strengthening teen driving laws has slowed. We also suspect that distracted driving is contributing. It’s not news that teens are distracted by technology behind the wheel.”

Nationally, the preliminary data show the number of 16- and 17-year-olds who died in crashes in the first half of 2012 was 240, up from 202 in the same six-month period of 2011; Pennsylvania had six such deaths, down from 10 the previous year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in September that preliminary data showed a 9 percent increase in fatalities for all age groups during the first half of 2012, also reversing years of declines.

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highland

The 88-year-old South Highland Avenue Bridge in Shadyside will close for replacement on Monday. Kaitlynn Riely of the Post-Gazette described it thusly in a recent article:

There are bridges that inspire poetry and paintings. The South Highland Avenue Bridge is not one of them.

The thoroughfare, which connects Shadyside and East Liberty with its two lanes and two pedestrian walkways, is an ancient-looking structure covered in rust and graffiti.

It is, to put it plainly, a bridge about which no song has been sung and no book has been dedicated.

Yet soon it will be sorely missed.

shighlandThe project will close South Highland Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue, which runs under it. Bus routes 71B Highland Park and 75 Ellsworth will be detoured. Weekend closures of the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, which passes below the bridge, may be necessary. More details are here.

The project is scheduled for completion in September.

A community meeting on the project will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Ave., Shadyside.

Short-term lane closures are possible on Route 51 between Fidelity Drive and Stewart Avenue in Pleasant Hills and Whitehall starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, continuing to 5 the following morning, during core drilling.

Rehabilitation of a bridge on Prestley Road in Collier will begin March 9, near the Thoms Run Road intersection. At 7 a.m. that day, weather permitting. Prestley Road will be open with alternating one-way traffic controlled by temporary signals from Thoms Run Road to the entrance of Journey Assembly of God and Cavanaugh Landscaping, but closed to through traffic from the church entrance to Route 50. The detour uses Route 50, Millers Run Road and Presto-Sygan Road. Work will conclude in the fall.

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