Officials provide tips for celebrating the Fourth of July safely

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), State Police, Fish and Boat Commission, and Office of the State Fire Commissioner urged residents to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend safely and responsibly.

PennDOT has partnered with law enforcement agencies to help reduce impaired driving through the Independence Day holiday weekend through education and enforcement.

“Safety is PennDOT’s most important priority, which is why we work closely with our partners and law enforcement to reduce impaired driving,” said PennDOT Acting Executive Deputy Secretary Melissa J. Batula. “We urge motorists to plan ahead this holiday weekend, and always, by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation.”

According to PennDOT, in 2020 there were 112 alcohol-related crashes from Friday, July 3 through Sunday, July 5, resulting in five fatalities. Also, during the holiday period last year, there were 48 drug-related crashes, resulting in five fatalities.

Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 60 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2020, an increase from 45 in 2019.

“Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water no differently than if you were driving a car, with the additional risk of drowning,” said PA Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer. “Boating under the influence puts everyone at risk, including passengers and others enjoying the water.”

Over the holiday weekend, State Police and local law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols.

“The Pennsylvania State Police has a zero-tolerance approach toward driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Price, deputy commissioner of operations for the Pennsylvania State Police. “Consistent with our highway safety mission, Troopers are trained to look for impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving behaviors; and remain especially cognizant during holiday periods. Travelers can do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe by remembering to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive impaired or distracted.”

Safety tips

For those celebrating at home this weekend, State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego recommended the following precautions for handling fireworks to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

• Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, which can burn at temperatures of at least 1200 degrees.
• Only allow adults to light fireworks one at a time, then quickly back away.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or garden hose handy in case of a fire.
• Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.
• After the fireworks have burned, fully douse them with water before picking them up or disposing to prevent trash fires.
• Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol, or other medications or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly to an emergency.

“We say it every year because it’s true; fireworks are not toys,” said Trego. “Fireworks are capable of causing serious injury or death and must be treated with care. We also need to realize that as important as it is to protect ourselves during their use, it’s just as important to have a care for those around you. Neighbors who happen to be veterans, as well as those with animals, often have noise sensitives that we should consider.”

If you have plans to travel this holiday weekend, you can keep up to date with traffic and road conditions at 511PA.com.

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