Irwin-area drivers are Pennsylvania’s worst, survey finds
Irwin-area motorists have the dubious distinction of being No. 1 in Pennsylvania — as the state’s worst drivers.
Drivers in the Irwin ZIP code were rated the worst drivers in any “city” in the state, based on data from QuoteWizard.com customers surveyed in 2018 about the number of accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations they have received. The questions were part of QuoteWizard’s process for seeking auto insurance quotes for customers.
With 28,000 motorists navigating the four-lane Route 30 through the western end of Westmoreland County each day, the No. 1 ranking does not surprise Junior Astudillo, manager of Lenhart’s Service Center Tire Pros on Route 30 at the top of Jacktown Hill, North Huntingdon.
“Route 30 is terrible, but the people driving it are crazy,” Astudillo said. “They weave in and out of lanes and drive too fast.”
All municipalities included in QuoteWizard’s recent best and worst drivers survey had a minimum of 200 quotes, said Adam Johnson, content editor for QuoteWizard, a Seattle-based insurance comparison site LendingTree bought last year for more than $300 million. Although Irwin is a borough, for purposes of QuoteWizard’s survey, it is a “city” that encompasses the Irwin 15642 ZIP code, which includes North Irwin, North Huntingdon, the Herminie area in Sewickley Township and parts of Penn Township. Johnson did not say how many quote samples came from motorists with an Irwin ZIP code.
“We looked at the total number of incidents from residents with an Irwin address and compared it with the total number of quotes to get a rate of incidents. Irwin had the highest rate of incidents among cities in Pennsylvania,” Johnson said.
North Huntingdon police, which track the number of reported crashes each year, said there were 313 last year, a 21% drop from 399 reported crashes in 2017.
But to Bill Fix, whose family has operated Fix’s Body Shop along Route 30 in North Huntingdon for more than 45 years, it comes down to distracted drivers giving the area a bad rap — particularly those using cellphones to talk and send texts.
“The bottom line is there’s too much texting and cellphone calls. There’s not an intersection you pull up to where you don’t see it … people texting and talking on the phone,” said Fix, whose business also runs a tow truck service.
As if Route 30 was not bad enough in the Irwin-North Huntingdon area, drivers in the Jeannette 15644 ZIP code — which covers from Adamsburg to Jeannette and a large swath of Penn Township — ranked as the 15th-worst drivers in the state. PennDOT estimates 29,000 vehicles travel that stretch of Route 30 daily and the area also sees about 8,000 motorists daily on Route 130.
Monroeville ranked 13th in the survey, with New Kensington at No. 19 for Pennsylvania’s worst drivers.
The Tribune-Review in 2017 analyzed five years of PennDOT crash data and found Route 30 had more severe accidents than any other roadway in Westmoreland County since 2012. The major east-west highway across the county saw a total of 1,960 accidents — including 55 severe ones — in the five-year period, which was the highest count in both categories.
Westmoreland County accounted for 3,245 crashes in 2017, which was 2.5% of the state’s accidents, according to QuoteWizard.
If you are looking for the safest drivers in Pennsylvania, you have to go east, where the first six cities rated as having the safest drivers are in eastern and central Pennsylvania. West of the Alleghenies, Connellsville was rated as the city with the seventh-best drivers. Indiana was at 18.
In terms of drivers statewide, Pennsylvania rated 12th. Michigan has the best drivers, according to QuoteWizard.
Maine, with its brutal winters, has the worst drivers. A drastic rise in traffic citations and fatalities is to blame for Maine’s jump from seventh-worst last year to worst overall in 2018.
PennDOT is in the preliminary engineering and design phase of a $100 million overhaul of Route 30 from the 10th Street intersection in Irwin to Route 48 in North Versailles to improve safety and better manage rush-hour traffic. The plan proposes various “jug handles” and traffic signals for easier and safer turns.
The lack of turning lanes creates backups in some areas, which result in motorists switching lanes to avoid backups, Astudillo said.
“Most of the accidents (on Route 30) are due to the drivers. You can’t really change people” with safety improvements, Astudillo said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .