TIPTON - With the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner, PennDOT and area police are driving the message home that if you drink and drive, expect to be pulled over.
"One life [lost] is too many, so we'll obviously keep pushing this message," said Cathy Tress of the Pennsylvania DUI Association, who along with police and PennDOT safety coordinators from Hollidaysburg and Clearfield turned out Monday at DelGrosso's Amusement Park to draw attention to the perils of drunken driving.
"Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" is the slogan for this year's campaign by state and local police to crack down on driving under the influence.
Using a car that PennDOT officials said was involved in an alcohol-related crash, park guests got to see firsthand what can happen when an impaired driver gets behind the wheel. Guests were encouraged to sign the car as their pledge not to drink and drive this holiday, said PennDOT spokeswoman Pam Kane.
"This is a very vivid reminder - don't drink and drive," Kane said.
Duncansville Borough Police Chief Jim Ott said local municipalities as well as the Blair County DUI Task Force will be out enforcing the law. While much goes into educating people about the dangers of impaired driving, police still make DUI arrests. Increasingly, Ott said, those arrests involve drugs, either alone or combined with alcohol. Whether it be prescription drugs, illegal drugs or even over-the-counter cold medications, drugs can impair drivers, especially when mixed with alcohol, he said.
"No matter what, you're at risk and you're putting others at risk," Ott said of people driving under the influence. He added that anyone planning to drink should designate a driver who will stay sober and not drink at all.
Kane noted that there were six alcohol-related accidents but no fatalities in the six-county PennDOT District 9 area during last year's holiday driving period between July 1 and July 4. She said four of those wrecks were in Blair County, with one each in Huntingdon and Cambria counties.
Over the same time period, there were eight alcohol-related accidents in Clearfield and Centre counties that left one person dead, PennDOT spokesman Dawn Roussey said.
"The Fourth of July is one of those family events, so we really emphasize to drive responsibly as families are out on the road," Tress said.
Kane said the increased traffic during the traditionally busy traveling holiday also means people need to buckle up and use common sense.
"Just be careful," Kane said. "More importantly, be safe."
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.