NCHP gears-up for holiday weekend

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2005

AHOSKIE – Arrive alive!

With the Memorial Day weekend set to officially start in 24 hours, the North Carolina Highway Patrol office in Ahoskie will increase the number of troopers working the highways here in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

The busy holiday weekend – one that traditionally ushers in the start of summer – means local highways will be crowded with motorists heading towards the North Carolina beaches. That means US 13/17 and US 158 will be busier than normal.

Additionally, some R-C area high schools have graduation exercises planned for tomorrow (Friday). That will increase the number of vehicles traveling along local roadways.

&uot;We’ll have a total of nine troopers working this weekend,&uot; said First Sgt. B.A. Jones of the NCHP’s Troop A office in Ahoskie. &uot;We will concentrate our patrols on the major highways during peak traffic times. There we will be keeping a close eye on impaired drivers as well as speeders and aggressive drivers.&uot;

Sgt. Jones continued, &uot;We’ll also be in the midst of our statewide ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign. That means we’ll be on the lookout for those who fail to abide by the state’s seat belt and child restraint laws.&uot;

The Memorial Day weekend travel period runs from 6 p.m. on Friday until 12 midnight on Monday, May 30.

Sgt. Jones said the best advice to help guarantee a safe trip would be to plan to leave a bit earlier as he expects slowdowns due to the volume of heavy traffic.

&uot;Don’t get in a rush, that only leads to something bad happening on our roadways,&uot; he said, making reference to the eight fatalities thus far in the R-C area this year, most of which were speed related.

&uot;We stop people all the time and their number one excuse is they are in a hurry and were not paying attention to their speedometer,&uot; Jones continued. &uot;Set your cruise control and pay attention to the road.&uot;

Sgt. Jones also reminded motorists of the state’s &uot;Move Over&uot; law. It requires motorists, when approaching a parked or standing emergency vehicle with its lights flashing on the shoulder of the highway, to move to a lane not nearest the emergency vehicle, if possible, and reduce speed. Motorists should travel in that lane until clear of the emergency vehicle. Motorists on two-lane roads should slow down and use caution when passing a parked or standing emergency vehicle.

Also, State Troopers and Motor Carrier Enforcement officers will be conducting operation &uot;Days of Summer&uot; this holiday weekend.

This is an effort by the Highway Patrol to reduce collisions by cracking down on commercial motor vehicle operators who are speeding and who may be committing serious traffic violations (traveling 15 mph or more over the posted speed limit, following too closely, improper or erratic lane change, and careless & reckless driving, and any violation of the motor vehicle laws that result in serious injury or death).

&uot;The Highway Patrol will be busy this weekend making the roads as safe as possible for all motorists. We want to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend,&uot; said Colonel W. Fletcher Clay, Highway Patrol Commander. &uot;Please fasten your seatbelt and take the time to be sure your children are properly buckled in. Speeding is the leading cause of collisions on our state’s highways so reduce your chances of becoming involved in a collision by obeying the speed limit laws.&uot;

Last year, there were 1,499 crashes, 1,033 injuries and 21 fatalities statewide during the holiday period.

Citizens may report crashes, impaired drivers, stranded motorists or other highway situations to the Highway Patrol by dialing * HP (*47) on their cellular telephones.

This is a toll free call that connects the caller to the nearest Highway Patrol communications center.