KING OF PRUSSIA, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, Delaware State Police, Pennsylvania DUI Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), AAA Mid-Atlantic, and victim’s advocates Richard and Roseann DeRosa, held an event today at the Walt Whitman Bridge in South Philadelphia to promote safe driving during the Labor Day holiday.
During the holiday period, which runs through September 5, local and state law enforcement will target impaired drivers through enforcement details. Motorists found driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or over will be arrested.
“Impaired Driving is a national concern that continues to impact the lives of our communities. Delaware State Police remains committed to making Delaware’s roadways safe by increasing public awareness of the law and strengthening enforcement efforts,” said Sergeant India Sturgis, Director of Public Information for Delaware State Police.
MADD is proud to support law enforcement working to keep roads safe at the end of a very busy summer. “Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants everyone to be safe and have fun this Labor Day weekend and to plan ahead for a non-drinking driver every time plans include alcohol. With so many options available – rideshare, taxis, public transportation, or a friend or family member who chooses not to consume alcohol – there is never any excuse to drive impaired. If you are the non-drinking driver, please follow the speed limits to help keep our roads and communities safe for everyone, and make sure you and all your passengers buckle up,” said Deborah D’Addona, MADD Victims Services Specialist.
When Richard and Roseann DeRosa lost their daughter, Deana Eckman, four years ago to a drunk driver on his sixth DUI, they swore they would fight to change state law so no other family would suffer at the hands of a repeat DUI offender.
Governor Tom Wolf signed “Deana’s Law,” a bill named after their daughter that sets tougher penalties for serial DUIs. The law requires consecutive sentences for people convicted of third and subsequent DUIs and increases prison sentences for the offenders. The new law takes effect in November.
“There are no words strong enough to describe the pain of losing your child,” Rosann DeRosa said. “Deana’s death has left a wound in our lives that will never fully heal. What happened to her and our family could have happened to anyone. We are incredibly grateful that Deana’s memory will better protect Pennsylvanians from those who repeatedly and wantonly drive under the influence.”
According to PennDOT data, in 2021, there were 362 crashes and three fatalities in the Philadelphia region during the Labor Day travel period beginning on Friday, September 3, running through Monday, September 6. Of those, 34 crashes and one fatality were impaired-driving related.
“Whether you are traveling in or just passing through Pennsylvania, driving under the influence is 100% preventable,” said Major Robert Krol, Director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “Troopers throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are trained to look for impaired driving behaviors and, consistent with our highway safety mission, have a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
To help make smart choices related to impaired driving, PennDOT encourages motorists to:
- Plan ahead for a sober driver if you plan to use an impairing drug;
- Don’t let friends get behind the wheel if they’re under the influence of drugs;
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol or other substances will be used, it’s your job to make sure all guests leave with a sober driver; and
- Always wear your seat belt – it’s the best defense against impaired drivers.
AAA expects the Labor Day holiday weekend travel volume will return to near pre-pandemic levels, like the Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday weekends earlier this summer. That means one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
In its annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports nearly all drivers (94%) disapprove of drinking and driving; however, 6% admitted to having done so in the past 30 days. AAA urges everyone to celebrate the unofficial end of summer safely.
“As the summer travel season draws to an end with the upcoming Labor day holiday weekend, AAA urges motorists to remember that increased traffic means an increase in the chance for crashes,” said Jana Tidwell, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “No one should ever get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.”
For more information on PennDOT’s highway safety efforts, you can visit www.PennDOT.pa.gov/safety.
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