Last updated: November 26. 2013 3:46PM - 466 Views

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Please have a safe Thanksgiving.

It’s more than mere heartfelt words we offer as everyone prepares to hit the highways to family destinations across the state and country, it’s a plea precipitated by the realization that there will be some among us who hope to it will be a safe holiday but won’t do the things necessary to help ensure that is.

Like the N.C. Highway Patrol, whose troopers, particularly in Sampson, will be out in full force working to ensure a safer holiday for those traveling, our aim is to get readers to stop and refocus their attention on the lives they might be saving, including their own.

The mantra isn’t a new one — Don’t drink and drive; don’t text and drive; follow the posted speed limit; give yourself extra time to get to intended destinations; watch out for other drivers; pay attention to the road — but it can’t be repeated enough. Because if repeating it year after year, holiday after holiday wakes one person up to the realization that their actions could cause harm, then it’s worth the continued pleas.

According to the local Highway Patrol, Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, coming in a close second to Labor Day and July 4. With more people on the road, the chance for accidents increases exponentially, particularly if travelers don’t obey traffic laws.

It’s easy to do. If a posted speed limit is 70, drivers think 80 mph won’t be a problem, and so they press the pedal a little closer to the floor; others believe glancing down at an incoming text will only take their eyes off the road for a second; still others think a couple of alcoholic beverages won’t hamper their ability to drive.

In every case they are wrong. Speed kills; texting and driving kills; drinking and driving kills. The statistics bear that out.

It only takes a few seconds of diversion and you are in another lane, and chances are great that the oncoming vehicle won’t be able to correct in time to avoid an accident. Drunk driving speaks for itself, and speed, well common sense should tell us that a crash at 80 mph won’t be pretty.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, the sharing of gratitude and a show of compassion toward others.

Shouldn’t that start when we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, taking responsibility for our actions as a driver.

In Sampson County, the most recent fatalities seem to have some common threads: speed, drunk driving or vehicles going left of center, a sure sign of distracted driving. Those threads should give us a clear indication that the ingredients to a safe holiday start with every driver making the commitment to avoid making those mistakes.

Today officially begins the holiday travel period. Heavy rain, and in some cases, snow is expected, making driving conditions even worse.

Please use caution and common sense, doing your part to make this Thanksgiving the safest we’ve had in a long time.

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