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Holiday Message from Police, PennDOT: Drive Safely, Soberly and Wear Your Seatbelt

Operation Safe Holiday press conference includes speakers from PennDOT, Northern Regional and Cranberry police departments.

Looking forward to being with loved ones during the holidays? Then drive safely and soberly.

That was the message Tuesday at a press conference to announce Operation Safe Holiday, a regional effort to crack down on aggressive and impaired driving. The effort includes PennDOT, Northern Regional and Cranberry police departments.

"PennDOT wants people to focus on what's important during the holidays," said Deborah Casadei, press officer for PennDOT. The operation will last through New Year's, she said.

People are getting on the roads to travel to see loved ones at this time of year and Operation Safe Holiday's goal is to make sure they get to their destinations safely, said Officer Scott Rick of Northern Regional Police Department.

"We want everyone to be able to spend time with their families," added Cranberry Police Officer Bill Ahlgren.

Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said Operation Safe Holiday means Cranberry Police will increase patrols on Routes 19 and 228 where thousands of cars travel every day.

Officers will focus on aggressive drivers, motorists who follow too closely, fail to signal or stop for red lights, and those who do not use seat belts, said Cranberry's Lt. Kevin Meyer.

Police also will be looking for those who drink and drive.

Northern Regional Police Department will concentrate on Route 19, Route 910 and Route 8, said Rick. NRPD's coverage area includes Pine, Richland, Marshall and Bradford Woods.

Police will be proactive in patrolling to slow down traffic and reduce traffic crashes, Rick said. 

When one motorist is stopped by police, the 30 to 50 cars that pass by get the point too, Rick said.

"It is the biggest deterrent," he added.

Operation Safe Holiday is funded through the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Casadei said.

PennDOT reports that the holiday season is the leading time period for traffic crashes, according to PennDOT's website. There were 4,235 crashes and 49 fatalities last year during the Thanksgiving travel period, which includes the weekends before and after the holiday. During the Christmas and New Year travel periods, there were a combined 1,994 crashes and 19 fatalities.

"PennDOT wants everyone to have a safe and sober holiday," Casadei said.

Here are Route 19 crash statistics provided by PennDOT:

ROUTE 19 AGGRESSIVE DRIVING CRASHES

Location 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 TOTAL Cranberry 7 11 5 5 13 41 Marshall 1 2 1 1 0 5 Pine 1 4 0 2 1 8 TOTAL 9 17 6 8 14 54

ROUTE 19 SPEEDING-RELATED CRASHES

Location 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 TOTAL Cranberry 37 30 29 23 35 154 Marshall 3 2 6 6 1 18 Pine 7 3 9 10 4 33 TOTAL 47 35 44 39 40 205

ROUTE 19 ALCOHOL-RELATED CRASHES

Location 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 TOTAL Cranberry 3 4 2 4 4 17 Marshall 3 0 1 2 1 7 Pine 0 1 1 2 2 6 TOTAL 6 5 4 8 7 30

ROUTE 19 UNBELTED CRASHES

Location 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 TOTAL Cranberry 5 5 7 2 9 28 Marshall 3 4 2 2 1 12 Pine 6 1 3 4 2 16 TOTAL 14 10 12 8 12 56


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