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Take it slow during the holidays

Thirty-five people have lost their lives on Roanoke-Chowan highways thus far this year, and authorities are hoping that number does not grow over the upcoming holidays.

According to a report issued by AAA Carolinas, there have been five fatal collisions in Bertie county, killing the same number of people.

The report showed a total of five fatal collisions in Gates, with seven fatalities; while Hertford had 10 fatalities in five fatal collisions.

Northampton County topped out the four-county area with 13 deaths in 11 fatal crashes over the last 12 months.

Now that the Christmas and New Year’s holidays have arrived, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is urging motorists to drive responsibly.

&uot;Slow down and enjoy a safe and happy holiday,&uot; said Sgt. B.A. Jones of the State Highway Patrol office in Ahoskie. &uot;Perhaps the number one reason attributed to motor vehicle accidents is exceeding safe speed.

&uot;My best advice is to leave a bit earlier for your destination, leaving yourself plenty of leeway to arrive on time,&uot; he said.

As is usually the case around these two holidays, the state highways are expected to be extremely busy.

Sgt. Jones said alcohol consumption was another contributing factor to accident. &uot;If you do choose to consume alcoholic beverages over the holidays, please let someone else drive you to your destination. Better yet, plan ahead and use a designated driver.&uot;

In addition to obeying the other traffic laws, Sgt. Jones advised motorists to use seat belts and child restraint systems.

&uot;This is the law,&uot; Sgt. Jones stated. &uot;One of the best gifts you can give all year round is to make sure your passengers are properly restrained inside a vehicle.

&uot;As was the case Monday, if road conditions are snow and/ice covered, please use extreme caution, and the best advice here is to simply stay home unless it’s an extreme emergency,&uot; he added.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol will increase the number of Troopers on the highways this holiday season, but as Sgt. Jones stated, this will not prevent motorists from having accidents.

&uot;People need to use common sense,&uot; he said. &uot;We want everyone to have a safe and happy holiday, but to make that possible, you must abide by the traffic laws.

Last year during the Christmas and New Year holiday weekends, 42 people were killed on the state’s highways.

The 2004 Christmas holiday period officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 24, and ends at midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

The New Year holiday period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, and ends at midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005.

Drivers with cell phones are also reminded that they can report safety hazards to the Highway Patrol by dial *HP (*47), which is a toll free call.