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PA urges safe driving, boating, fireworks over holiday weekend

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner held a media event at the Fort Hunter boat launch urging safe and responsible celebration ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

PennDOT is working closely with safety partners and law enforcement to reduce impaired driving through the Independence Day holiday weekend with impaired driving education and enforcement running through July 4.

“Safety is PennDOT’s most important priority, which is why we work closely with our partners and law enforcement to reduce impaired driving,” said PennDOT Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa J. Batula. “We urge motorists to plan ahead this holiday weekend, and always, by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation.”

 

According to PennDOT data, in 2020 there were 112 alcohol-related crashes from Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5, resulting in five fatalities. Also, during the holiday period last year, there were 48 drug-related crashes, resulting in five fatalities.

Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 60 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2020, an increase from 45 in 2019.

Pennsylvania is a boating destination state, and boaters drive to and from their boating location. When an impaired boat operator gets behind the wheel to drive home, a BUI becomes a DUI.

“Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water no differently than if you were driving a car, with the additional risk of drowning,” said PA Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer. “Boating under the influence puts everyone at risk, including passengers and others enjoying the water.”

“Our goal is for boaters to begin each trip with a knowledge and appreciation of basic safe boating practices that includes wearing a life jacket and not drinking while boating,” he added.

Over this holiday period, the Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols. This effort is funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution of more than $4.7 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for impaired driving enforcement.

“The Pennsylvania State Police has a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Price, deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police. “Consistent with our highway safety mission, Troopers are trained to look for impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving behaviors; and remain especially cognizant during holiday periods. Travelers can do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe by remembering to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive impaired or distracted.”

For Pennsylvanians celebrating at home this weekend, State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego recommended the following precautions for handling fireworks to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of at least 1200 degrees.
  • Only allow adults to light fireworks one at a time, then quickly back away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire.
  • Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
  • After the fireworks have burned, fully douse them with water before picking them up or disposing to prevent trash fires.
  • Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol, or other medications or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly to an emergency.

“We say it every year because it’s true; fireworks are not toys,” said Trego. “Fireworks are capable of causing serious injury or death and must be treated with care. We also need to realize that as important as it is to protect ourselves during their use, it’s just as important to have a care for those around you. Neighbors who happen to be veterans as well as those with animals often have noise sensitives that we should consider.”

If you have plans for travel this holiday weekend, “Know Before You Go” by checking the “Holiday Travel Restrictions” page at www.511PA.com. While PennDOT will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible, the “Holiday Travel Restrictions” page allows the public to view interstate restrictions that will be in place during the holiday travel period.

The public can check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania by visiting www.511PA.com. The service, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. Motorists can also see active construction projects at www.511PA.com.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

The public can join the conversation on social media by using #DriveSober and #NoDUIJuly.

To learn more about PennDOT’s efforts to prevent impaired driving or other safety initiatives, visit www.PennDOT.gov/Safety.

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

For more information on the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, visit www.fishandboat.com.

For more information on the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, visit osfc.pa.gov.