It's an unfortunate part of the holiday season each year, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Robin Mungo said.
"We usually start to see it rise around Thanksgiving," Mungo said of drunken-driving arrests and crashes. "So this is a reminder to people around the holidays. If you have a friend who you've seen drinking, stop them before they get into a car."
Standing alongside the state's DUI Victims Moving Memorial at the Mall at Robinson, Mungo said state police typically handle an increased number of drunken-driving arrests, crashes and fatalities during the December holiday season.
PennDOT and Pennsylvania DUI Association officials joined her today at the memorial to urge Western Pennsylvania's drivers not to drink and drive during the season.
The portable memorial features the names of 1,000 victims killed in drunken driving-related crashes in Pennsylvania. The event marked the moving memorial's first stop in Allegheny County this year. The moving memorial is affiliated with the state’s DUI Victim’s Garden in Harrisburg.
Mungo said drivers also should be vigilant for other motorists who may be impaired on the road.
"You almost have to revert back to those lessons you learned in driver's ed," Mungo said. "Drive defensively. Scan your mirrors. Limit distractions in your vehicle, like the cell phone and the radio or the number of people in your car."
Cathy Tress, a representative from the Pennsylvania DUI Association, said motorists should follow their instincts while they are on the road.
"If a driver feels something is off, they should call 911," Tress said.
"Get a description of the vehicle and contact police. Don't engage the driver: Sometimes they may not have been drinking, but drugs may be the issue. Get around [the suspected] car if you can."
She lauded the area DUI Task Forces for their work in drunken-driving enforcement and prevention in the Moon area.
“This time of year in any community you will see an increase in DUI arrests and crashes and unfortunately fatalities,” she said.
Mungo said those attending holiday parties should plan ahead, ensuring they have a ride home before sipping their first drink.
"Remember that when you're in a car you're operating a deadly weapon," Mungo said.
This story originally appeared on Moon Patch