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PennDOT, Safety Partners, Emergency Responders Collaborate to Combat Blackout Wednesday Impaired Driving

11/23/2022

Pittsburgh, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), members of the Allegheny County Safety Partners, and local emergency responders partnered today to stress the importance of sober driving surrounding the holiday season, especially the day before Thanksgiving, also known as "Blackout Wednesday."

Blackout Wednesday is one of the largest drinking days of the year and kicks off the increasing trend on impaired driving crashes surrounding the holiday season. During this time, the southwest region of PennDOT and their safety partners will work together to deliver lifesaving messages to the public in an effort to encourage positive actions that can help reduce impaired driving on Pennsylvania roadways.

During today's media event, representatives from PennDOT districts 11 and 12 teamed up to share information regarding how to celebrate the holidays responsibly and make good decisions that will save lives. PennDOT also encouraged drivers to plan ahead with a designated driver, ride share app, or public transportation schedule to ensure they have a back up plan if impairment becomes part of the holiday festivities.

Emergency responders from Ross Township and Westview Borough, Allegheny County discussed the increased number of impaired driver related crashes they respond to surrounding the winter holiday season. They reminded motorists that impaired driving crashes are 100% preventable.

The Pennsylvania DUI Association and Allegheny County Pretrial Services reminded everyone to recognize how drugs, even prescribed medications, along with alcohol, impact their ability to drive safely. Someone is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Additionally, drugs can mimic the same inebriation symptoms as someone with a .08 BAC, or sometimes worse.

According to PennDOT data, from November 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 there were 3,458 crashes in southwest Pennsylvania, resulting in 25 fatalities. Of those crashes, 411 were impaired driver related, resulting in nine fatalities alone. Additionally, according to Ross Township and Westview Borough emergency responders, they responded to 1,330 emergency calls during the same timeframe last year. This is the highest number of calls in November and December over the last four years.

Collectively the agencies are urging the public to be smart and safe this holiday season, by planning ahead and declining to drive impaired.

The Allegheny County Safety Partners consist of the AAA East Central, Allegheny County Health Department, Allegheny County Police Department, Allegheny County Pretrial Services, Allegheny County Sheriff Department, Children's Hospital Injury Prevention, City of Pittsburgh Police Department, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania DUI Association, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project, and Port Authority Police Department.

For more information, visit www.PennDOT.pa.gov/safety.

PennDOT's media center offers social-media-sized graphics highlighting topics such as aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving, and seat belts for organizations, community groups, or others who share safety information with their stakeholders.

For regional updates, follow PennDOT on Twitter and join the Greater Pittsburgh Area PennDOT Facebook group.

MEDIA CONTACT: Yasmeen Manyisha, ymanyisha@pa.gov

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