WEST CHESTER, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), West Chester University, West Goshen Police Department, Pennsylvania DUI Association, AAA Mid-Atlantic, and victim’s advocates Roseann and Richard DeRosa held an event yesterday at West Chester University to promote safe driving during the Labor Day holiday.
“As friends and family gather to celebrate the end of summer, we want everybody to make it home safely. Driving impaired often has fatal consequences – and it’s completely preventable,” said PennDOT Safety Press Officer Krys Johnson. “There is no excuse for anyone to drive drunk or impaired by drugs. When you’re planning your Labor Day celebrations, plan for a sober drive home.”
During the holiday period, which runs through September 4, 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.
When Roseann and Richard DeRosa lost their daughter, Deana Eckman, five 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.
A bill named after their daughter, Deana’s Law, 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.
“There are no words strong enough to describe the pain of losing your child,” Roseann 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 2022, there were 347 crashes and seven fatalities in the Philadelphia region during the Labor Day travel period beginning on Friday, September 2, and running through Monday, September 5. Of those, 40 crashes and three fatalities were impaired-driving related.
To help make smart choices related to impaired driving, PennDOT encourages motorists to:
- Before drinking, plan a safe and sober ride home.
- Don’t let someone get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking.
- If you’re hosting a gathering, ensure all your guests have a sober ride home.
- If you see an impaired driver, call 911. And always wear your seat belt – it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.
Considering how busy the summer travel season has been, AAA anticipates this trend will continue for the Labor Day holiday weekend, making it one of the year’s busiest travel weekends.
With increased traffic expected on local roadways, AAA urges motorists to put safety first while behind the wheel.
“As the summer driving season approaches its end with the Labor Day holiday weekend, AAA urges motorists to remember that increased traffic means an increase in the chance for crashes,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs Jana Tidwell. “When behind the wheel, motorists should focus completely on the task of driving – buckle up, obey posted speed limits, monitor safe following distances, avoid distractions, and never drive impaired. Everyone deserves to get to their holiday weekend destination safely.”