EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — With the fourth of July holiday fast approaching, efforts are underway to avert tragedies on the highways, specifically DUI-related deaths.
Wednesday is a sobering reminder of just how big of a problem it is. With a moving DUI memorial in Luzerne county.
These are some of the names of people who have been killed as a result of DUI impaired crashes in Pennsylvania, names of the victims are also displayed on television screens inside the truck. It is a replica of the DUI Memorial Garden in Harrisburg, where bricks are placed in remembrance of those who lost their lives as a result of DUI.
On Wednesday the mission at the Luzerne County Courthouse was to get the word out. Don’t drive while impaired.
“We have to remember those that we lost senseless tragedy. But a very close second you just don’t drink and drive,” said Sam Sanguedolce the Luzerne County District Attorney.
The Luzerne County District Attorney says one-third of the cases they prosecute each year about 2,000 cases are DUI related.
“This is a split-second decision that’s usually made under the influence that people would take back the second they see red and blue lights or the second there is a crash, It’s irreversible that decision,” said Sanguedolce.
PennDOT works with law enforcement and agencies like mothers against drunk driving and students against drunk driving to get the word out about the dangers of DUI.
“No one has the right to drive impaired. Driving under the influence is a preventable offense if your do drive impaired. Law enforcement has been receiving money to step up its enforcement to remove impaired drivers from the roadway,” stated Shawn Noonan of the Pennsylvania DUI Association.
“It’s very important for our generation I think it’s important to make sure that we send a message when we’re young before we get up to the point we’re driving on the road risking lives if we’re going impaired,” Megan Kernis, SADD Student Ambassador of the Year at Hazleton.
Also here are folks on the front lines of addiction counseling.
“We see people with DUIs every day come to our facility. Yeah ago it was alcohol now was seeing a lot of marijuana and other drugs. That’s very scary,” said Jason Harlen the CEO of Wyoming valley Drug and Alcohol Services.
The message was clear DUI kills and it’s everyone’s responsibility to try to prevent tragedies. PennDOT says the number of DUI fatalities is rising in Pennsylvania.
Last year nearly 4,000 people were killed in DUI-related crashes.