HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - As the 246th birthday of the United States inches closer, state officials are reminding drivers and boaters to be responsible and stay safe.  

“Before heading out to these celebrations, PennDOT wants to remind motorists to keep safety top of mind,” said Mike Keiser, Acting Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration at PennDOT. “If your celebration includes alcohol, plan ahead by designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation,” added Keiser. 

According to PennDOT, there were over 130 alcohol-related crashes from July 2 to July 5, 2021, resulting in six fatalities, as well as 48 drug-related crashes, resulting in four fatalities.  

“During the four-day Independence Day travel period in 2021, troopers made 503 DUI arrests and investigated four alcohol-related fatal crashes,” said Captain Mark Magyar, the Commanding Officer for Pennsylvania State Police Troop H of Harrisburg. 

“Motorists should know that impaired driving enforcement goes beyond alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also works to identify motorists impaired by drugs,” said Keiser. 

State and local police are increasing the number of Drug Recognition Experts or DRE’s on call this holiday weekend.  

“DRE’s receive specialized training to distinguish the physiological signs of impairment caused by a wide range of controlled substances,” said Magyar. 

However, increased enforcement is not limited to just roadways.  

“And we're also intensifying our law enforcement efforts to detect and remove impaired boaters from our Commonwealth's waters,” said Richard Lewis, Boating at-large Commissioner for PA Fish and Boat Commission. “Operation Dry Water. It's a national BUI awareness campaign and enforcement campaign over the Independence Holiday weekend,” said Lewis. 

Officials say driving ATVs is another popular July 4th activity, but expressed the potential danger if not operated properly. Pennsylvania ranks top five in the country for ATV crashes, many of those accidents involved alcohol. 

“According to PennDOT data, last year there were 207 ATV crashes that occurred on our roadways, resulting in 23 fatalities and 62 serious injuries for ATV drivers and their passengers,” said Keiser. 

Traffic volume will also be much higher on roadways and officials are reminding drivers of Pennsylvania's Move Over Law.  

“The Move Over Law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area to move over to a lane farther away,” said Magyar. 

If you're unable to move lanes, Captain Magyar says to reduce your speed to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit.  

“In other words, if you're able to move over, drivers should gradually slow down rather than slamming on their brakes, as this could potentially cause a chain reaction crash,” said Magyar. 

PennDOT says they are suspending construction projects where possible to improve traffic flow and safety. You can find the latest weather and traffic conditions using the 511 PA mobile app if you are planning on traveling this weekend.