The Pennsylvania DUI Association brought its mobile memorial trailer to Berks County last week to help warn people about the dangers of driving while impaired.
Berks County District Attorney John Adams and area law enforcement officials used the trailer's visit as a way to announce the county's participation in DUI enforcement through Sept. 3. As part of the nationwide 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign, Berks police officers will be conducting roving patrols and DUI checkpoints on area roadways.
Adams commented on the job done by the Pennsylvania DUI Association, PennDOT and police officers around the county to curb the tragic effects of drinking and driving.
'Today, I can proudly say we are making a difference, for we are seeing positive results in our efforts to stop people from driving under the influence,' he said. 'The fact that we have educated the public about this is making a difference. The more we can educate the public, the more the public becomes aware of the danger of drinking and driving.
'We are making headway. There is room for improvement, but we need to educate our youth on the dangers of drinking and driving,' Adams said.
According to Adams, the number of people arrested for DUI in Berks County in 2011 was 1,268, down from the 1,275 arrested in 2010. The total number of alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania decreased from 12,426 to 11,805 in 2011. The number of alcohol-related deaths in Pennsylvania decreased from 459 in 2010 to 428 in 2011.
'We've had some tragic accidents in our county as a result of alcohol. We are seeing a decline in those accidents but still we see too many too often. When we see tragedy, we as a community need to answer questions and to stop these tragedies from occurring,' Adams said.
The trailer is a replica of the permanent DUI Victims' Memorial Park that is located at the Pennsylvania DUI Association's headquarters in Harrisburg. It has an outdoor scene painted on the inside similar to the one at the park, with more than 1000 names painted inside on the wall of those who have lost their lives due to drunken driving.
With more than 400 Pennsylvanians being killed each year, according to the Pennsylvania DUI's website, the trailer does not have the room to add to the painted names. So Mike Martin, the designer and builder of the trailer, takes the names of the victims and, with the families' permission, adds the names to a disc that can be played on two small televisions inside the trailer in an endless loop so that every known victim's name can be seen.
PennDOT data for Berks County shows that in the last 10 years 4,554 reportable alcohol related crashes occurred on Berks County roadways resulting in 187 deaths. 16 people lost their lives in 2011 in Berks County in alcohol-related crashes.
Police are looking for impaired drivers on area roadways. Roving patrols and sobriety checkpoints have been scheduled. Sobriety checkpoints may be set up on any roadway within Berks County including but not limited to routes 12, 61, 222, 422, 183, 22, 737, 143, 10, 176, 73, 662, 501 and 419.