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PennDOT, Safety Partners Kick Off ‘Operation Safe Holiday’, Decorate DUI Tree

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the Allegheny County Safety Partners held a media event to highlight the dangers of impaired driving through the holiday season.

PennDOT District 11 and the Allegheny County Safety Partners teamed up for their annual DUI Tree program, honoring those who lost their lives in impaired driving crashes last year during the holiday season in Allegheny County.

From November 24 through the end of the year, Pennsylvania State Police, along with municipal agencies statewide, will participate in “Operation Safe Holiday”, the holiday season impaired driving campaign. High visibility enforcement efforts such as roving DUI patrols and sobriety checkpoints will be conducted to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities involving an impaired driver. As the night before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest drinking days of the year, there is typically a significant increase in impaired driving crashes surrounding the holiday.

Each year, several high schools throughout the county participate, allowing students to decorate a DUI tree with each tree ornament representing a statistic that occurred last year in Allegheny County.

New this year, the safety partners decorated their own DUI Tree during today’s media event. The tree will remain on display in Monroeville Mall throughout the holiday to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving. During the event, the representation of each decoration was explained, and signs were hung near the tree for mall visitors to view.

The tree was covered with 971 lights representing Allegheny County impaired crashes for all of 2020, with 13 gold bulbs representing fatalities in those crashes. Additionally, 101 red bows represent 2020 holiday impaired crashes, and no red bulbs were placed, as there were no holiday impaired driving fatalities last year.

Six local high schools participating in this year’s DUI Tree program to remind their peers to be safe and responsible drivers are Chartiers Valley, Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Steel Valley, West Allegheny and Westinghouse Arts Academy Charter schools.

The safety partners have been conducting the DUI tree program since 2013 and will continue to bring impaired driving awareness to young drivers.

PennDOT reminds motorists that impaired driving crashes are 100 percent preventable and asks drivers to keep themselves, their families and other motorists safe by designating a sober driver or not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Allegheny County Safety Partners consist of the AAA East Central, Allegheny County Health Department, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Pretrial Services, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania State Police, and the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project.

For more information, visit www.PennDOT.gov/safety.

PennDOT’s media center offers resources for safety organizations, community groups, or others who share safety information with their stakeholders. Social-media-sized graphics highlighting topics such as seat belts, impaired driving and distracted driving can be found online in PennDOT’s Media Center.

For regional updates, follow PennDOT on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PAPittsburgh and join the Greater Pittsburgh Area PennDOT Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/pittsburghpenndot.

MEDIA CONTACT: Yasmeen Manyisha, 412-429-5044 or ymanyisha@pa.gov

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