Media & Public Relations

Contact: Carl DeFebo
Phone: 717.920.7176

Renee Vid Colborn
Phone: 717.920.7501
May 23, 2012
PA Turnpike Stresses Safety for Memorial Day Drivers

Event at Sideling Hill Service Plaza on Friday will promote text-free driving.

HARRISBURG, PA (05/23/2012) — The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is urging Memorial Day motorists to keep both hands on the wheel as they travel the state's roadways over the holiday weekend. A Safety Break at the Turnpike's Sideling Hill Service Plaza in Fulton County will help enlighten drivers on the dangers of distracted driving and provide other safety reminders. The Safety Break — the first of six such events set on the Turnpike this year — will be held May 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the plaza on the Turnpike mainline at milepost 172 just east of the Breezewood Interchange (Exit #161).

Memorial Day is among the busiest holidays on the Pennsylvania Turnpike with millions of people expected to travel the roadway. “We’re reminding drivers to stay alert and keep both hands on the wheel. Remember, Pennsylvania law prohibits texting and emailing while driving,” said Turnpike CEO Roger E. Nutt. “In addition, we’re urging holiday motorists to observe the other safety rules of the road, such as moving over for stopped emergency vehicles, obeying the posted speed limits, and using caution, common sense and courtesy behind the wheel.”

To make driving easier for holiday travelers, the Turnpike plans to suspend maintenance work and have all lanes in each direction available for traffic beginning at 3 p.m. on May 24 and ending at 6 a.m. on May 30. In the event of emergency lane restrictions, the Turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory System (1640 AM) to inform motorists of conditions.

 “The best way to ensure driver safety over the Memorial Day holiday is to use common sense and avoid unnecessary distractions,” said Cpl. Richard Dean of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop T, the troop in charge of Turnpike patrols. “Taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds is dangerous, so put down that phone and focus on the road.”

Throughout the holiday and any other time of year, Pa. Turnpike travelers can get real-time roadway information via the Turnpike Roadway Information Program, or "TRIP," by visiting or calling 1-866-976-TRIP (8747). Turnpike users can also download a free app for Android or Apple smartphones called TripTALK that provides audio alerts about Turnpike stoppages or delays. Information on the eyes-free and hands-free app is available at

To report emergencies while traveling the Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone or deploy one of the call boxes on the shoulder. Be ready to provide your specific milepost location to the dispatcher when calling *11.

The Turnpike will be offering Safety Break events all summer long at various service plazas to educate drivers about the importance of wearing seat belts, aggressive driving and work-zone safety. The other locations for Safety Break events are: June 15, New Stanton Service Plaza, Westmoreland County; July 3, King of Prussia Service Plaza, Montgomery County; Aug. 10, Hickory Run Service Plaza, Carbon County; Aug. 31, Cumberland Valley Service Plaza, Cumberland County; Nov. 21, Blue Mountain Service Plaza, Cumberland County. All events are held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Just in time for the Memorial Day holiday, three service plazas have reopened along the Turnpike, offering travelers more variety and convenience. South Somerset, Cumberland Valley and Blue Mountain service plazas are open and ready for the summer travel season. The plazas have more spacious food courts, more food selections and contemporary restroom facilities. With the completion of these three, service plazas, 12 of the 17 plazas have been reconstructed to date.