Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Phone: (717) 920-7176
July 1, 2010
Pa. Turnpike Anticipates Heavy Travel Over July Fourth Weekend

State Police remind travelers that seat belts are the best protection in an accident.
HARRISBURG, PA (07/01/2010)(readMedia)-- With 2.7 million vehicles expected on the Pennsylvania Turnpike today through Monday, officials are emphasizing safety during the upcoming Independence Day weekend, urging all travelers to properly buckle up.

"Wearing a seat belt is the most effective step we can take to save lives and reduce highway injuries," said Cpl. Rick Dean of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop T. "Failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other traffic safety-related behavior. About 63 percent of people killed in accidents are not wearing seat belts."

To prepare for the surge of travelers, turnpike maintenance and construction work will be suspended beginning 3 p.m. today through 6 a.m. on Tuesday July 6, and all lanes will be open to traffic except in emergencies. In the event of emergency-lane closures, the turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory Radio System (1640 AM) to inform motorists of conditions.

To further encourage safe behavior during the Independence Day weekend, the turnpike is sponsoring "Safety Break" events at two of its busiest travel plazas tomorrow. The turnpike will host events July 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Allentown Service Plaza on the Northeastern Extension and the Sideling Hill Service Plaza on the east-west mainline.

The theme for the Safety Break events is seat belt and child-safety seat use. Turnpike safety workers will be on hand to provide relevant materials and talk to travelers about buckling up.

"During this holiday, drivers need to understand their responsibility to ensure that all occupants are buckled up," said the Turnpike's Manager of Customer Safety Joseph L. Rispoli. "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that an additional 9,000 lives would be saved each year if all motor-vehicle occupants ages 5 years and older properly used restraint devices."

Turnpike representatives will also help motorists sign up for E-ZPass and enroll in the Pennsylvania Turnpike's free "Preferred-Traveler" program where they can get breaking travel alerts via text message and e-mail. They also will promote the toll-free, real-time roadway and weather information service, 1.866.976.TRIP (8747).

The Allentown plaza is between the Lehigh Valley and Quakertown exits on I-476 and the Sideling Hill facility is between the Breezewood and Fort Littleton exits on I-76. The two travel plazas, which had been completely renovated and reopened in 2008, are accessible to traffic from both directions.

To better plan ahead for holiday trips, Pennsylvania Turnpike motorists can get real-time information about roadway conditions via the Turnpike Roadway Information Program, or "TRIP," by visiting or calling 1-866-976-TRIP. Officials advise motorists headed for the turnpike to check out conditions before they leave.