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Shapiro Administration Highlights Responsible Celebration Ahead Of Independence Day Weekend

06/27/2024

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation, Conservation and Natural Resources, Drug and Alcohol Programs, and Health, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner gathered today in Codorus State Park to urge safe and responsible celebration ahead of the Fourth of July weekend.

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues to encourage Pennsylvanians to keep safety at the forefront this holiday weekend and all summer long,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll. “Whether your plans this summer include hiking, biking, boating, or a backyard barbecue, the department urges motorists to always plan ahead and designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation. Never drive impaired!”

According to Department of Transportation data, in 2023 there were 38 alcohol-related crashes from July 4 through 6:00 A.M. July 5, resulting in two fatalities and 23 injuries.

During the same time, there were 10 drug-related crashes, resulting in one fatality and eight injuries.

Last summer, from June through August, there were 2,375 crashes involving impaired driving, resulting in 116 fatalities and 1,575 injuries.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages 124 state parks and 2.2 million acres of state forest lands that permit recreational activities including boating and all terrain vehicle riding.

Pennsylvania ranks top five in the U.S. for all terrain vehicle crashes, with many of those incidents involving alcohol.

Possessing, selling or consuming alcoholic beverages is prohibited on Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ lands (PDF)​ except at specially designated facilities operated or leased by the department.

The department reminds visitors to practice safe behavior, follow recreation guidelines, and to comply with all posted safety signage.

“Whether in transit to and from our beautiful parks and forests or using a motorized vehicle to spend time in nature, we encourage all visitors to be responsible as we celebrate our independence,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Safety is extremely important when spending time outdoors and we encourage visitors to always practice safe behavior when taking in nature on public lands.”

Over the holiday period, Pennsylvania State Police and local law enforcement will conduct checkpoints and roving patrols as part of the Fourth of July Impaired Driving Campaign.

This effort is funded through the Department of Transportation’s statewide annual distribution of nearly $6 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for impaired driving enforcement.

“State troopers and municipal law enforcement officers remain vigilant for impaired driving behaviors and take a zero-tolerance approach toward motorists found under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris. “Celebrate the holiday safely by staying sober on the roads.”

Data from the Fish and Boat Commission shows that there were 39 boating-under-the-influence arrests in 2023.

Pennsylvania is a boating destination state, and boaters drive to and from their boating location.

When an impaired boat operator gets behind the wheel to drive home, a boating-under-the-influence becomes a driving-under-the-influence.

“Boating while impaired affects judgment and can delay reaction time on the water no differently than if you were driving a car, with the additional risk of drowning,” said Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Comission Director of the Bureau of Law Enforcement Colonel Jeffrey Sabo. “Boating under the influence puts everyone at risk, including passengers and others enjoying the water.”

Besides the dangers of impaired driving, Pennsylvania residents should keep an eye out for other potential health concerns during Independence Day weekend.

“Many Pennsylvanians spend a lot of time outdoors for Fourth of July celebrations; wearing sunscreen helps protect skin from harmful ultraviolet rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin cancer,” said Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Debra Bogen. “Choose sunscreens that are ‘broad-spectrum’ with ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B protection and have a sun protection factor of at least 30. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours if residents are in direct sunlight.”

Additionally, spending extended periods of time outside when the weather is warmer can lead to heat-related illnesses.

Older adults are especially susceptible to the intense heat. For information on preventing heat-related illnesses or identifying heat-related symptoms, visit the Department of Health’s web page.

“Summer is a very active time of year with an increase in social events that present more opportunities for alcohol use, in particular,” said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Dr. Latika Davis-Jones. “For individuals struggling with a substance use disorder or those in recovery, remember your support system, and do not hesitate to use them if needed. If you are alone and cannot access your support system, the Shapiro Administration’s Get Help Now hotline is also a resource that is always available for help.”

Individuals seeking substance use treatment or recovery resources can be connected to local substance use disorder resources by calling the toll-free Pennsylvania Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or by using Treatment AtlasOpens In A New Window, a free, online locator tool to help Pennsylvanians confidentially find substance use disorder treatment that meets their needs.

For Pennsylvanians celebrating at home this weekend, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner has launched a new fireworks safety campaign​ which can be seen across the state.

During today’s event, the Office of the State Fire Commissioner 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 2,000 degrees, as hot as a blow torch. They are the number two cause of fireworks-related visits to the emergency room.

  • Have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water, or hose handy in case of a fire.

  • Never pick up or try to relight fireworks that have not fully ignited.

  • Place any spent or “dud” fireworks in a bucket of water for several hours before throwing them away.

  • Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol or other medications or substances that can impair judgment or the ability to react quickly to an emergency.

  • Wear safety glasses.

  • Know where each firework lands and make sure to clean up spent fireworks. Do not assume that a rocket or other airborne firework has landed safely and extinguished itself.

“Fireworks are capable of causing serious injury or death and must be treated with extreme caution,” said Deputy State Fire Commissioner John “J.C.” Tedorski. “In 2022, Fireworks were involved in more than 10,000 visits to the emergency room. And in 2018, fireworks started 19,500 fires and caused over $100 million in property damage. A few simple precautions can ensure that you are not contributing to these alarming statistics.”

If you have travel plans this holiday weekend, “Know Before You Go” by checking the Holiday Travel RestrictionsOpens In A New Window.

While the Department of Transportation will remove lane restrictions and suspend construction projects wherever possible, the Holiday Travel Restrictions shows interstate restrictions that will be in place during the holiday travel period.

Check conditions on more than 40,000 roadway miles in Pennsylvania by visiting t​he 511PA websiteOpens In A New Window.

The service, which is free and available 24 hours-a-day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 1,000 traffic cameras. Motorists can also see active construction projectsOpens In A New Window.

511PA is also available through a smartphone application for iPhone and Android devices, by calling 5-1-1, or by following regional X alerts accessible on the 511PA website.

To learn more about the Department of Transportation’s efforts to prevent impaired driving or other safety initiatives, visit the ​Department of Transportation’s Safety web page.

For more information about state parks and state forests, visit the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.

For more information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit the ​Pennsylvania State Police website.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, visit the ​Fish and Boat Commission website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark O'Neill - ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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