Harrisburg, PA – If you’re celebrating Independence Day on a boat, remember… the same DUI rules that apply on land can also apply on the water.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards gathered today with representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), local police, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at the City Island boat launch to urge safe celebration and responsibility whether on a boat or driving a vehicle during the Independence Day holiday.

The event highlighted strategies and partnerships across the state to decrease alcohol- and drug-related crashes and fatalities, similar boating incidents, and aggressive driving behavior.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, which is why we work closely with other agencies and law enforcement to reduce roadway and waterway crashes and deaths,” Richards said. “Though Independence Day is a time for celebration, we urge Pennsylvanians to designate a sober driver and wear their seat belts throughout the coming holiday, and throughout the year.”

According to PennDOT data, last year there were 273 alcohol-related crashes resulting in 10 fatalities from Friday, June 30, to Sunday, July 9. This marked a decrease in crashes from 2016, when there were 293 alcohol-related crashes and eight fatalities from Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 10. Also, during the holiday period last year, there were 108 drug-related crashes and five fatalities in those crashes, compared to 101 drug-related crashes and four fatalities in 2016.

Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 68 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2017, a decrease from 90 in 2016.

“Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as it does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, and noise on a boat,” said John Arway, executive director of the PA Fish and Boat Commission. “Choosing to consume alcohol while driving a boat puts everyone at risk, including passengers and others in or on the water.

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone operating a boat understands the importance of boat safety procedures, including not drinking while boating,” he added.

Police this year will focus their enforcement efforts on distracted driving, aggressive driving, speeding, and impaired driving during the holiday period. PennDOT representatives will also hold media and community outreach events across the state.

“Troopers will be on the roads across Pennsylvania, on the lookout for impaired and distracted drivers,” said Acting State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick. “We ask all travelers to buckle up and drive safely. If your holiday plans include alcohol, plan ahead for a safe ride home.”

The public can join the conversation on social media by using #drivesober and #NoDUIJuly.  Visit www.penndot.gov/safety for more information on impaired driving and PennDOT’s other traffic-safety initiatives.

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.

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