More Memorial Day Travelers Expected on Pennsylvania Turnpike this Weekend

Turnpike officials ask motorists to avoid distractions, focus on road during holiday.

HARRISBURG, PA (05/27/2010)(readMedia)-- With more than 2 million vehicles likely to take the Pennsylvania Turnpike this Memorial Day weekend (Friday through Monday), Turnpike officials are stressing safety, encouraging travelers to avoid distractions and focus solely on driving.

"Memorial Day is among the busiest holidays on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and with warmer weather forecast, we expect more vacationers on the road this year," said Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier. "So we are urging motorists to focus on the driving task exclusively. Put down those mobile devices and other distractions when you're sitting behind that wheel."

Officials are bracing for an increase in traffic this year of about 2 percent over 2009 Memorial Day volumes.

Beginning today through Monday evening, motorists should be aware of the potential for slow-moving traffic and heavy volumes on the Turnpike. When driving in slow traffic, motorists should turn on headlights, maintain speed and keep ample distance from the vehicle ahead.

"The best way to ensure that you and your family arrive safely at your destination this Memorial Day is to use common sense and avoid unnecessary distractions," said Cpl. Rick Dean of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop T. "At 55 or 65 miles per hour, even taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds is dangerous. No text message, call or e-mail is worth risking someone's life."

During the busy holiday, maintenance and construction work will be suspended beginning 3 p.m. Thursday May 27 through 6 a.m. Wednesday June 2, and all lanes will be open to traffic except in emergencies.

Turnpike travelers can get real-time roadway and weather information by calling 1.866.976.TRIP (8747) for conditions across the Turnpike system. TRIP, the Turnpike Roadway Information Program, gathers information through automated data and video feeds along with first-hand accounts from roadway crews, police and responders. To better plan ahead, motorists can also get real-time roadway information at Officials advise motorists to check out conditions before they leave.

In the event of emergency lane restrictions, the Turnpike will activate its Variable Message Signs and Highway Advisory Radio System (1640 AM) to inform motorists of conditions.

In case of an accident, breakdown or medical emergency, motorists can utilize the yellow emergency call boxes on the shoulder. In such an event, it is crucial that the vehicle be moved from active travel lanes and every effort is made to keep a safe distance from moving traffic. Cellular phone users can dial *-11 or 1-800-332-3880 to receive aid. Be prepared to give your milepost location and direction of travel.

As a safety precaution, over-dimensional commercial vehicles (trucks exceeding 8-1/2 feet wide, 85 feet long, 13-1/2 feet high or 100,000 pounds gross weight) will be restricted from traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike beginning sundown Thursday May 27 to sunrise Tuesday June 1.