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PennDOT, Safety Partners Highlight Traffic Safety During Memorial Day Across Southeast Pennsylvania

King of Prussia, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), TMA Bucks County, Bucks County District Attorney, Newtown Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, and AAA held an event today at the Newtown Police Department to outline regional driving safety efforts during the Memorial Day holiday.

“As we approach Memorial Day weekend, a day to honor our nation’s heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we want to remind everyone to be safe,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said. “Everyone should enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, but please do it without putting yourself and others in danger by getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

With an increase in travelers in the summer months, typically, there is an increase in drunk-driving arrests and deaths, starting with the Memorial Day weekend.

That is why motorists are reminded to plan ahead if they will be celebrating.

“If you plan to drink, have a sober driver to take you home or consider using a rideshare program,” Weintraub said. “If it is your turn to be the designated driver, do not consume alcohol and take the role seriously.”

“If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure all your guests have a sober ride home and don’t let them get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. Drunk driving is one of the deadliest and most often committed crimes, yet it’s one of the most preventable,” Weintraub said.

According to PennDOT data, in 2020, there were 310 crashes and three fatalities in the Philadelphia region during the Memorial Day travel period beginning on Friday, May 22, running through Monday, May 25. Of those, 27 crashes and three fatalities were impaired-driving related.

As a result, state and law enforcement agencies unveiled their plans to reduce crashes over the weekend, which runs concurrently with the national “Click It or Ticket” mobilization, a seat belt awareness campaign that ends June 5.

Police said they would focus on people who drive dangerously, such as speeding. In addition, they will look out for seat belt violations and drivers who text or commit other careless acts behind the wheel. The state’s legal blood alcohol limit is .08, so watch that beer or alcohol intake unless you’ve arranged for a way to get home safely, they added.

Police also noted the “move over law” in which drivers must give disabled vehicles and first responders a wide berth.

Under the law, drivers approaching an emergency response area who are unable to safely merge into a lane farther away from the response area must "pass the emergency response area at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing."

What happens if you break the law? It’s a $500 fine for the first offense, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 for third and subsequent offenses, police said.

“We honor those who have sacrificed their lives during the Memorial Day holiday,” said Newtown Police Chief John Hearn. “Let us return the favor while driving a motor vehicle.”

The members of the Newtown Police Department had an important message for community members:

  • Multi-tasking is good at times – but NOT when you’re driving. Don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving.
  • Slow down! Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.
  • Wear your seat belt!
  • Don’t operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Arrive safely!

“Memorial Day is always a good predictor of what’s to come for summer travel,” said Jana Tidwell, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “In the Philadelphia region, nearly 466,000 locals will travel for the holiday, with 424,000 locals (or 91%) going by car, causing delays more than double regular traffic patterns. Though people are overdue for a vacation, safety should remain a top priority. AAA urges those traveling to buckle up, obey the rules of the road, eliminate distractions, and move over for emergency vehicles rescuing stranded motorists at the roadside.”

Motorists can check conditions on major roadways by visiting or downloading the 511PA mobile application. 511PA, 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.

For a complete list of construction projects impacting state-owned highways in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, visit the District 6 Traffic Bulletin.

MEDIA CONTACT: Krys Johnson, 610-205-6797

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