HARRISBURG – With the excitement of the holiday season, PennDOT and Pennsylvania State Police are reminding motorists to celebrate safely.
Whether they are traveling five minutes or five hours, revelers should never drink and drive and they should be alert for changing weather conditions.
“This time of year brings happiness and hope for an exciting new year, and we just want to remind everyone to be safe,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “By driving safely and being attentive to road conditions, you can help ensure that this holiday season will be one to remember.”
One of the primary safety messages during the holiday season is to never drink and drive. Those who drink and drive could be caught in state and local police DUI enforcement operations now through the New Year’s holiday.
During last year’s Christmas driving period, from Dec. 22-25, police responded to 1,647 crashes that resulted in 14 fatalities. Of those, 252 crashes and 10 fatalities were alcohol-related. During the New Year’s holiday, from Dec. 29-Jan. 1, there were 1,219 crashes and 15 fatalities, including 211 crashes and nine fatalities involving alcohol.
To promote safety on the roadways, State Police Commissioner Jeffrey B. Miller said troopers will take part in Operation C.A.R.E.’s “National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend” during the Christmas holiday driving period. C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort, is a national program aimed at reducing crashes on interstate highways during holiday periods.
“This is a wonderful time of the year,” Miller said. “Stay calm and use common sense on the roads. Your only goal should be to arrive safely at your destination. By speeding or engaging in other reckless driving behavior, you put yourself and others at great risk. You have very little to gain and so much to lose.”
Holiday travelers are urged to pay attention to weather forecasts, as conditions can change quickly across parts of Pennsylvania. Motorists can visit PennDOT’s new traveler information Web site at www.dot.state.pa.us or call the department’s road condition hotline at 1-888-783-6783 (toll free) or 717-783-5186 (out-of-state callers) for updated interstate road conditions and closures. PennDOT urges motorists to drive in a manner appropriate for conditions, since nearly half of all crashes for the two holidays last year occurred where wet road conditions were reported.
PennDOT also encourages drivers to always buckle up, avoid aggressive driving, take frequent breaks during long trips and pack an emergency travel kit.
Motorists are also reminded that state law requires headlights to be turned on when wipers are in use, and vehicles must be cleared of snow and ice.