Berks Drivers Must Stay Focused on Safety Over Holiday

(Reading Eagle:  Published 11/21/2016, Herman, Holly, Web).

With more drivers expected to hit the roads than during any Thanksgiving weekend in nearly a decade, state police and other traffic watchers are reminding everyone to be alert of potential hazards. Avoiding things like texting while driving, speeding and drunken driving will go a long way toward keeping everyone safe.

The AAA motor club anticipates that 49 million Americans will be traveling on roads from Wednesday to Sunday. That’s a 1.9 percent increase over last year.

“Drivers must have a more heightened awareness of their surroundings,” said Michael Axman, vice president of Reading-Berks AAA. “There are more distractions. There will be drivers who aren’t normally driving every day on the road.” According to PennDOT, during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2015, there were 4,029 crashes and 45 fatalities in Pennsylvania.

Having your mind on driving is the most important thing, Axman said. “What we’ve found is that it’s not the physical activity of using the phone, but whatever conversation you are having is what is distracting drivers,” he said. “The text message and the phone call can wait,” said Trooper David C. Beohm, spokesman for Troop L based in Reading. “Since the use of smartphones, the driving has become a lot worse.”

Beohm also noted there are a lot of deer on highways in Berks County and the region, and he warned that drivers can easily be distracted and not pay attention to the speed limits.

“Driving too fast for the road around curves is among the many factors for crashes and fatalities,” he said. “They are some really winding roads in the country.”

For many young adults and others, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a big night to go to bars with friends. “People will go out and drink until they are legally impaired,” Beohm said. “Most people think they can go out and have five beers and drive and nothing will happen, and then they have a crash. People need to make better decisions about driving.  Beohm suggested calling a taxi or ride service if you plan on drinking.  “Every individual can do his or her part by always planning for a non-drinking driver to get home safely,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, president of the national MADD organization, which targets drinking and driving.

Patrols on the lookout:

To encourage safe driving, state troopers and municipal police are participating in a holiday safe-driving effort that runs through Sunday. Beohm said tickets will be handed out for all violations, including speeding, text messaging and not wearing seat belts. “The speed enforcement is being done to prevent crashes that could be fatal,” he said. “We need to slow people down.  The trooper warned that motorists can lose their driver’s license if cited for driving 31 mph over the posted speed limit.

Berks County police officers will participate in the North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program as part of the 2016 Thanksgiving “Click It or Ticket” mobilization conducted through Dec. 4 on area roads. These operations include seat belt checks, sobriety checkpoints and roving DUI patrols.  The North Central Regional DUI Enforcement Program consists of municipal police departments from Berks, Carbon, Columbia, Montour, Monroe, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder and Union counties.

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of our friends and neighbors driving on the roads in Berks County and Schuylkill County and throughout Pennsylvania during the Holiday Season and serve auto, truck and motorcycle accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.

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