From Boating to Driving, Have a Sober and Safe Independence Day

Independence DayImage by melissaann

KING OF PRUSSIA, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently joined the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC), United States Coast Guard (USCG), and AAA Mid-Atlantic at the Ridley Township Municipal Marina in Ridley Park, Delaware County, to promote driving and boating safety for the Independence Day holiday.

Participants discussed the need to remain vigilant while celebrating Fourth of July festivities; it is vital to remain sober while operating a vehicle or vessel. Alcohol and drug use can impair a person’s judgment and reaction time. Motorists who drive impaired, whether behind the wheel of a car or a boat, not only endanger themselves but their passengers and others on the roadways and waterways.

PennDOT is reminding motorists to celebrate responsibly and never drive impaired. According to PennDOT data, from June 26, 2020, through July 5, 2020, there were 2,591 crashes, resulting in 41 fatalities statewide. Of those crashes, 266 involved impaired driving, resulting in 13 fatalities. Never drive impaired. Take the keys away from a friend or loved one who is impaired to prevent them from driving, designate a sober driver, or use a rideshare app. Motorists should also obey the speed limit, never drive distracted, and always buckle up.

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From July 2 through July 4, PFBC waterways conservation officers (WCO) will participate in Operation Dry Water, a nationally organized effort to conduct enhanced boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement. WCOs are trained to detect signs of impaired boating and conduct sobriety tests on the water. The public is reminded that the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle or any watercraft, powered or unpowered, is .08 percent blood alcohol concentration. In addition, boaters are reminded to wear a life jacket, have a float plan, avoid summer storms that can cause treacherous fast and high-water conditions, designate a sober boater, and consider having no alcohol while aboard a boat since intoxicated passengers are also at risk of injury and falls overboard.

AAA Mid-Atlantic expects a significant rebound in travel this summer. The travel volume for the Independence Day holiday weekend is expected to increase by nearly 50% locally (to more than 660,000 Philadelphia-area residents traveling) compared to 2020, reaching the second-highest travel volume on record for the holiday. And the Great America Road Trip is back, as more than 90% of Independence Day holiday travelers will go by car this year.

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“Optimism coinciding with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and growing consumer confidence are fueling a strong desire to travel this summer as the U.S. takes steps toward putting the pandemic behind us,” said Jana Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “When venturing out, travelers should heed all rules of the road, including never drinking and driving. Impaired driving is 100 percent preventable. If you consume alcohol, marijuana, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive. And if you’re going to drive, then don’t consume these substances.”

To learn more about impaired driving/boating and other PennDOT safety initiatives, visit www.PennDOT.gov/safety.

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