The holiday season may look different this year, but those who are traveling are reminded to do so safely.
That's the message from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in regard to helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and also reminding drivers the importance of safe driving and seatbelt use. The reminders come ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the holiday season.
“We can all do our part to prevent crashes and fatalities by designating a sober driver and always wearing a seat belt,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “This holiday season may look a little different, but no matter how far or near you travel, traffic safety is always important.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Operation Safe Holiday kicked off on Nov. 16 with the “Click It or Ticket” Thanksgiving enforcement mobilization that will run through Nov. 29.
State police and local law enforcement will be on the lookout to ensure drivers and front-seat passengers are buckled up and that children are secured in properly installed child safety seats.
In Pennsylvania, children under 4 must be properly restrained in approved child safety seats. Children under 2 must be secured in a rear-facing car seat until they outgrow the maximum weight and height limits designated by the manufacturer. Booster seats are required for children ages 4 to 8 to keep them protected in the event of a crash.
Operation Safe Holiday continues with the holiday season impaired driving campaign that begins on Nov. 25, and runs through New Year’s Day. Law enforcement will conduct impaired driving enforcement details, with zero tolerance toward drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol.
According to PennDOT data, there were 1,175 crashes resulting in 31 deaths during the same period in 2019.
“DUI is a serious crime that puts Pennsylvanians at risk every day, but it is also 100 percent preventable,” said Major Bruce Williams, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “(The state police) and its local law enforcement partners have zero tolerance toward driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Drivers are also reminded to obey Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop, or disabled vehicle. The goal of the Move Over Law is to protect law enforcement, emergency medical providers, and other first responders when responding to crashes.
Motorists can check conditions on major roads by visiting www.511PA.com. 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day and provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. 511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional Twitter alerts accessible on the 511PA website.
The holiday seat belt and impaired driving enforcements are funded through PennDOT’s statewide annual distribution from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For more information on PennDOT’s highway safety efforts visit, www.PennDOT.gov/safety.
The public can join the discussion on social media using the hashtags #PASafeHoliday and #BeSafePA.