Pennsylvania State Police Investigate More Crashes, Fewer Fatalities This Memorial Day Weekend

Pennsylvania State Police handled more crash investigations this Memorial Day Weekend than last but there were fewer fatalities.  13 people were killed in the 808 crashes investigated by State Police over the holiday weekend, compared to 16 deaths in 776 crashes during the 2010 Memorial Day weekend. Five of those killed were not wearing seatbelts one fatal crash was alcohol-related.    Last year, none of the 16 victims wore a seatbelt and two of the fatal crashes were alcohol-related.

While the number of fatalities this year was below the 2010 Memorial Day holiday, it was still higher than the 2009 holiday weekend, when nine people died in crashes investigated by state troopers. In addition, a total of 83 accidents this Memorial Day weekend are believed to be alcohol-related, compared to 70 last Memorial Day weekend.

State Police spokesman Jack Lewis says troopers arrested 357 motorists for driving under the influence; issued 7,934 speeding citations; cited 708 individuals for not wearing seat belts; and issued 115 citations to motorists for not securing children in child safety seats. The special enforcement period did not end with the holiday weekend. State Troopers are still in the midst of a Click it or Ticket campaign. They’ll be paying special attention to see if drivers are following the seatbelt law and children are properly restrained through June 5th.

Flags in the State Capitol Rotunda

PA Veterans Can Qualify for Benefits

Memorial Day is a time for all Americans to honor those who have lost their lives in defense of freedom.  It’s also a time to thank our surviving veterans – both young and old – for serving this country.  Here in Pennsylvania, there are more than 964,000 veterans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.  While Pennsylvania’s veteran population topped 1.11-million in 2005, officials say we still rank fourth among states in terms of our population of veterans.

“Although the number of veterans in our state has gone down over the last five years, we’ve been able to help veterans secure more funding, particularly in pension and compensation benefits,” says Department of Military and Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Joan Nissley.  She tells us Pennsylvania veterans received $1.5-billion dollars in benefits in federal fiscal year 2010.  “That’s money that’s actually coming into our veterans’ pockets,” she says.  VA expenditures also totaled more than $3.8-billion in Pennsylvania in fiscal year 2010. 

Nissley also encourages those veterans who have recently returned from Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere to seek the benefits that they’ve earned.  “When it’s time for them and they’re ready they can come to us, or to a county director for veterans’ affairs, or to an accredited veterans’ service officer at one of the state veterans organizations,” Nissley says.  A good first stop for vets interested in learning more about their benefits is the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs website

On this Memorial Day, President Barack Obama has designated the hour beginning at 11am as the time for America to unite in prayer.  President Obama is also asking all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm local time.  This tradition dates back to 1950.