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NCHP urges holiday travel caution

Memorial Day, a holiday that honors the deceased men and women from the Armed Forces, officially kicks off the summer vacation season in North Carolina.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and ends on midnight, May 28.

This weekend is expected to be busy along North Carolina highways.

This means more people will be on the highways, increasing the chance of traffic crashes.

Last year 19 motorists died and 767 were injured in traffic collisions, investigated by the highway patrol over the Memorial Day holiday.

Speed is the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in the state.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is reminding motorists to be careful as they enjoy this Memorial Day weekend.

Troopers will increase patrols on all interstates and major four lane highways during the holiday weekend.

&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 Col. W. Fletcher Clay, highway patrol commander.

Clay also said, &uot;Please fasten your seatbelt and take the time to be sure your children are properly buckled in.

Reduce your chances of becoming involved in a collision by obeying the speed laws.&uot;

First Sgt. Kenny Pitts of the Highway Patrol office in Ahoskie said that since this weekend is a heavily traveled holiday, drivers should leave early for their destinations.

&uot;Drivers should give themselves plenty of time to reach their destinations, and they should rest and take frequent breaks.

Fatigue plays a big role in many of the accidents that occur,&uot; said Pitts.

Pitts also said drivers should be constantly be aware of traffic conditions as they travel on the highways.

Pitts has more advice for drivers to follow in order to stay safe this Memorial Day weekend.

Drivers should not drink and drive.

They should always wear their seatbelts and obey the rules of the road.

Drivers should not be aggressive.

If drivers have any problems while traveling this weekend, they can report crashes, impaired drivers, stranded motorists or other highway situations to the highway patrol by calling * HP (*47) on their cell phones.

This is a toll free call that connects the caller to the nearest highway patrol communications center.