HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards, along with representatives from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) held a media event Tuesday at the City Island boat launch, urging safe and responsible celebration whether on a boat or driving a vehicle.
“Safety is PennDOT’s most important priority, which is why we work closely with our partners and law enforcement to reduce impaired driving,” Richards said.
“Though Independence Day is a time for celebration, we urge Pennsylvanians to designate a sober driver and wear their seatbelts throughout the coming holiday, and throughout the year.”
According to PennDOT data, in 2018 there were 17 alcohol-related fatalities from Friday, June 29 through Sunday, July 8. This marked an increase in fatalities from 2017, when there were 10 alcohol-related fatalities from Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 9.
Also, during the holiday period last year, there were eight drug-related fatalities, compared to five in 2017.
Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 51 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2018, a decrease from 68 in 2017.
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 Pennsylvania 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 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.
“Troopers will be on the lookout for impaired, distracted and aggressive drivers this holiday,” said State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick.
“All travelers can do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe by remembering to buckle up and ensuring children are in an appropriate child passenger safety seat.”
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.
PennDOT encourages you to always plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation.
Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices.
SaferRide allows users to call a ride service or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.