Operation Slow Down#8217; underway By Cal Bryant 11/22/2006 The best advice for those traveling by motor vehicle during the Thanksgiving holiday period #110; slow down! The North Carolina Highway Patr

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The best advice for those traveling by motor vehicle during the Thanksgiving holiday period n slow down!

The North Carolina Highway Patrol has launched Operation Slow Down statewide. The program ends on Sunday, Nov. 26.

During this time, State Troopers will be cracking down on speeders on the interstates and major four lane highways.

Locally, there are no interstates or major four-lane highways, but that doesn’t mean State Troopers will not be working in the Roanoke-Chowan area.

“In Troop A, District 2, we do not have many miles of four-lane highways; however we will be conducting the Slow Down Campaign on US highways,” First Sgt. Kenny Pitts of the NCHP’s Ahoskie office said. “In addition we will be concentrating our efforts on removing drivers from our highways who choose to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. We will be utilizing Driving While Impaired Checkpoints to help achieve this.”

Last year, the Highway Patrol kicked-off Operation Slow Down as an initiative that addresses speeding on North Carolina highways.

During Operation Slow Down 2005, State Troopers issued more than 16,000 traffic citations, the majority for speeding.

More importantly, traffic fatalities investigated by the Patrol dropped 6.6 percent and speed related collisions dropped 17 percent.

Speed is the leading cause of traffic fatalities and collisions in the state and the Highway Patrol receives numerous citizen complaints concerning motorists traveling at dangerous speeds on the highways.

Troopers will be using motorcycles, Dodge Chargers and unmarked patrol vehicles for this campaign.

However, speed is not the only culprit when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. Sgt. Pitts said a major concern in Bertie, Hertford and Gates counties is the noncompliance of seat belt usage.

“Thus far this year in these three counties we have had 17 fatal collisions investigated by the Highway Patrol,” Pitts said. “From these we have had 18 fatalities, 14 of which were riding in a passenger vehicle required to be buckled in.

Of those 14 which should have been wearing a seat belt, 10 were not properly belted in.

Obviously a seat belt will not always save your life, but it is a step in the right direction.”

First Sgt. Pitts concluded by saying, “The numbers do not lie; 71 percent of our fatalities were not wearing the required seat belt which is a staggering amount which has brought great concern to us.

On the whole, properly wearing seat belts reduces injuries as well as saves lives and we will be aggressively enforcing this life saving device.”

Motorists may report dangerous driving to the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP on their cellular phones from anywhere in the state.

For more information about Operation Slow Down 2006, visit the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety’s website at www.nccrimecontrol.org/shp.