As Halloween approaches, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Berks County Police are teaming up to emphasize the importance of responsible driving during the holiday season. While Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, festivities are expected to take place over the weekend preceding and following the holiday, prompting a call for vigilance on the roads.
The joint effort from NHTSA and Berks County Police aims to remind individuals about the dangers of impaired driving, whether caused by alcohol, drugs, or medications. The message is simple but crucial: “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.”
Sergeant David Bentz, of the Exeter Township Police Department and Berks County Coordinator for the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program, stressed the importance of pre-planning sober rides for Halloween celebrations. “Heading out to a Halloween party? Every partygoer should plan their sober ride home in advance. If you plan to use an impairing substance, you should plan for a sober ride home. Before you ever get behind the wheel of a vehicle, remember: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different,” he urged.
The consequences of drug-impaired driving can be severe, with Pennsylvania’s laws carrying penalties of up to $10,000 and even jail time. Regardless of the terms used to describe one’s condition, such as “high,” “stoned,” or “wasted,” it is crucial not to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Studies have shown that substances like marijuana can slow reaction times, impair cognitive performance, and affect lane-keeping abilities, making it imperative to stay off the road when impaired.
To ensure the safety of the community, police officers across Berks County will implement DUI roving patrols and checkpoints during the Halloween season to deter and apprehend impaired drivers.
The campaign also reminds the public that not only illegal drugs but also over-the-counter and prescription medications can have impairing effects. It’s advisable to exercise caution before driving after using any medication. If individuals find themselves drug-impaired and stranded with their vehicle, they should consider giving their keys to a sober driver. Friends are encouraged to intervene if they see someone attempting to drive while drug-impaired, potentially preventing a tragedy.
Designated drivers are encouraged to stick to their plans and avoid any drug use, whether legal or illegal. There are various alternatives to getting impaired drivers home safely, such as designating a sober driver, taking a taxi, or using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. Additionally, community sober ride programs are available, and people are encouraged to use these options.
If anyone encounters an impaired driver on the road, they are urged to contact 911 promptly.
By working together and adhering to these safety measures, NHTSA and Berks County Police hope to save lives and maintain the safety of America’s roadways during the Halloween season. For more information on impaired driving, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drug-impaired-driving