Many North Carolinians will be traveling to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and North Carolina troopers are encouraging everyone to be safe on the highways.
Sgt. Charlene Cotton of the Sampson County office of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is stressing the importance of taking steps to be protected from danger or injury. Some of the actions include simple decisions such as wearing seat belts, not speeding and keeping a safe distance between vehicles.
“There’s going to be more people on the roads, so traffic will be a little heavier,” Cotton said while talking about people rushing to destinations during the heavy traffic period. “We want everyone to be safe.”
She also encouraged motorist traveling long distances to take breaks.
“Just be patient on the road,” Cotton said. “You’re not the only one traveling. There’s going to be a lot of extra cars on the roadway.”
Another problem which often occurs is people texting and driving or checking messages. Although it’s not against the law to talk on a cellphone, Cotton said it could be a distraction too.
“Any distraction in your vehicle could force you not to be aware of your surroundings,” she said.
Sampson County local troopers will be working to make sure everyone is obeying seat belt laws and watching their speed. When it comes to consuming alcoholic beverages, she encouraged motorists to have a designated driver.
“It’s actually a problem throughout the year,” Cotton said about driving while impaired. “During the holiday time, people are off, sitting around with their families, it’s football season and people have a tendency to do some celebrating with their families while they’re not working.
“That’s all right, but we want to make sure you don’t get behind the wheel and put your life in danger and innocent bystanders’ lives as well.”
The Highway Patrol and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program will be working with law enforcement agencies throughout the state for the N.C. Interstate Challenge Campaign. The purpose is to pay special attention to major interstate highways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In the process, law officials will combat fatal collisions on targeted highways with hopes of having no deaths during the campaign.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, increased patrols will be used during the campaign by placing a trooper or officer every 20 miles throughout each interstate corridor. The highways include, I-26, I-40, I-73, I-74, I-77, I-85 and I-95 during heavy traveling periods. It will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25 and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29.
In addition, the Highway Patrol will be participating in the national I-40 Challenge. Neighboring states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas will be targeting several violations including speeding, distracted driving, seat belt use, following too closely, and driving while impaired.
“We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming up as well,” Cotton said. “We just want everybody to be safe out there.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.