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State Leaders Reinforce Safety For July 4th Celebrations

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- PennDOT, state police, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner joined forces Thursday to urge Pennsylvanians to be responsible this Fourth of July weekend.

State leaders are asking people to stay sober when behind the wheel of a car or a boat.

"Driving while intoxicated, even if you think you're just buzzed, is never the best decision whether you're in a car or on a boat. You can be arrested for DUI or BUI and we don't want that to take away your independence," Melissa Batula, PennDOT's acting executive deputy secretary for transportation.

It is one of the busiest and most dangerous weekends on Pennsylvania roadways and waterways. Troopers will be out in full force the next few days, with certified drug recognition experts on standby.

Last year, PennDOT data shows 112 alcohol-related crashes resulting in five deaths and 48 drug-related crashes with five deaths during the holiday weekend.

"Perhaps the most difficult thing that we have to ever do is deliver a death notification telling someone that a loved one, a family member has been killed in a crash whether or DUI related or otherwise, whether they are in a car, on an ATV or in a boat. We don't want to make that notification and you don't want to get that knock on the door at 2 a.m. So please buckle up, slow down, move over for emergency responders and never drive while impaired or distracted," State Police Lt. Colonel Scott Price.

This weekend, the Fish & Boat Commission will participate in "Operation Dry Water" and be on heightened alert. In 2020, they made 60 boating under-the-influence arrests

"Boating while impaired increases the chance for an accident just like operating a motor vehicle on the roadway," said Mark Sweppenheiser, a waterways conservation officer with the state Fish & Boat Commission.

State Police urged people to have a designated driver for a car and boat. They also said to not drink and drive while operating an ATV.

If you are marking our independence with booming fireworks, the state Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego said to stay 150 feet away from structures and keep a bucket of water nearby.

"There's no money that you can put on the loss of an eye, of severe burns or even the death of someone who got injured with fireworks," said Trego.

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