Stay Alert, Buckle-Up, Drive Sober, Save Lives

November 21, 2023

More than 49 million Americans will be gassing up and hitting the road this year to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family. They likely will encounter aggressive tailgaters, speed weavers, and distracted texters. Unfortunately, many also will encounter drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The message for drivers is simple: Stay alert in the driver’s seat.

In 2022, motorists in Pennsylvania during the Thanksgiving holiday season were involved in 4,110 crashes with 43 of them resulting in death, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) 2022 PA Crash Facts & Statistics.

In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that many of those killed while driving during Thanksgiving holiday season were not wearing seat belts. The NHTSA reported that 52 percent of the people killed while driving at night were not wearing seatbelts, and 46 percent of those killed while driving during the day were unbuckled.

Another simple message: Buckle up and protect yourself.

Drivers under the influence of alcohol and or drugs were involved in a high percentage of crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday season. In 2022, PennDOT reported that drunk or drugged drivers accounted for 22.9 percent of all crashes and 14 fatalities.

Law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth are out in full force to curb impaired and aggressive driving during the Thanksgiving holiday. Last year, the Pennsylvania State Police made 539 arrests for DUI, issued 9,252 citations for speeding, 1,226 child safety seat and seat belt citations, and issued 15,887 other traffic related citations. Click it or Ticket and Operation Safe Highway are actively in play right now, as officers conduct sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols, and regular traffic safety patrols.

With the technological marvels of ride sharing, the good old-fashioned designated driver, or by simply phoning a friend, there are zero excuses for impairment behind the wheel this Thanksgiving, or any day for that matter. For our kids out there, parents should be willing drop everything and pick up their sons or daughters anytime, anywhere, anyhow, with no questions asked.

The message is clear: Drive sober and save a life.

As you head off this Thanksgiving, think of the lives you want to save: stay alert, buckle up, and drive sober. Everyone will be thankful for that.

Nathan L. Boob, Esq., is a Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor with the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.