As Pennsylvania continues to reopen, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania State Police are reminding Pennsylvanians to celebrate responsibly ahead of the Independence Day holiday.
“While social distancing is still encouraged, when you do travel please drive safely,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Though Independence Day is a time for celebration, we urge Pennsylvanians to designate a sober driver and wear their seat belts throughout the coming weekend, and all year.”
According to PennDOT data, in 2019 there were 241 alcohol-related crashes, resulting in seven fatalities, from Friday, June 28 through Sunday, July 7, 2019. Additionally, there were 93 drug-related crashes, resulting in 11 fatalities, during last year’s Independence Day holiday driving period.
Pennsylvania was recently selected to receive a $35,000 grant from Responsibility.org and the Governors Highway Safety Association. The grant funds are for the Pennsylvania DUI Association and will be used to train an additional 20 Drug Recognition Experts. Impaired driving enforcement goes beyond checking for alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also work to identify motorists impaired by illegal drugs and prescription medication, or some combination of these. A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is a law enforcement officer trained to identify people whose driving is impaired by drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. DRE’s receive special training in addition to the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) training that all new law enforcement officers receive. There are nearly 225 trained DRE’s across Pennsylvania.
Over this holiday period, the Pennsylvania State Police and local municipal agencies will conduct impaired driving enforcement details. 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.
“Troopers have zero-tolerance toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick. “As more Pennsylvanians begin to travel again, it is imperative to remember that the most important steps we can take to keep ourselves and our passengers safe on the road are to buckle up, slow down, and never drive while impaired or distracted.”
PennDOT encourages you to always plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation. The public can join the conversation on social media by using #DriveSober and #NoDUIJuly.