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Officials Warn Of Increased DUI Crashes This Thanksgiving

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Officials are warning people not to drive under the influence this holiday season.

A DUI dedication tree is decked out with lights, bulbs and bows, but they have a deeper meaning.

"You'll see 971 lights. Those lights represent all impaired crashes in Allegheny County in 2020," said Jim Garrity, the AAA East Central public affairs director. "Tragically, you'll see 13 gold bulbs representing fatalities in Allegheny County due to driving under the influence."

The 101 red bows represent the holiday impaired crashes in 2020.

"You're going to see 13% more people traveling this Thanksgiving. Alarmingly, that could be 13% higher numbers than what we see on this tree behind us," said Garrity.

That's why PennDOT and the Allegheny County Safety Partners are warning people to not drive under the influence.

They kicked off their Operation Safe holiday campaign Tuesday at the Monroeville Mall ahead of one of the biggest drinking days of the year.

"There's absolutely no excuse to get behind the wheel impaired, whether that's by alcohol or drugs," said Yasmeen Manyisha, the PennDOT safety press officer. "You're really putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk."

PennDOT also wants drivers to realize drugs are a problem too since 60% of DUI crashes involved drugs in 2018.

Their best advice: stay home or plan ahead.

"If you know you're going to have fun this weekend and you think you may want to have a few drinks, have a friend who is going to be responsible and get you from point A to point B," said Manyisha.

Allegheny County police and local and state police say they'll increase patrols and sobriety checkpoints starting Wednesday to make sure everyone is safe behind the wheel.

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