Holiday traffic expected to crowd roads

Published 1:31 pm Saturday, July 4, 2009

Consider this your warning.

During the busy Fourth of July weekend, law enforcement agencies in the Roanoke-Chowan area are urging motorists to exercise caution and responsibility.

Along with the increase in traffic volume the July Fourth weekend can bring, there will be additional law enforcement officers present on the roadways looking for violations.

The Highway Patrol is currently conducting “Operation Firecracker,” which will end on July 5.

“This campaign will focus on impaired driving as well as an aggressive enforcement of all motor vehicle laws,” said Trooper J.S. Collins, Traffic Safety Information Officer with

Troop A Headquarters in Greenville. “Each year injury and death ruin many holiday plans through carelessness and poor planning.”

On a national level, troopers will be participating in “Operation C.A.R.E.” (Combined Accident Reduction Effort).

According to Collins, during last year’s July 4th period, 12 people died in motor vehicle crashes while 322 people were injured and 377 car crashes were alcohol related across the state.

Speed is the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in the state, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

Over the holiday, troopers will be cracking down on speeders by using LIDAR and other speed timing devices to assist them in enforcing the speed laws. Additionally, troopers will increase patrols on all interstates and major four lane highways during the holiday.

Troopers will target aggressive drivers who tend to cause the most crashes. The aggressive driver has been identified as those drivers who flagrantly violate the motor vehicle laws, including but not limited to: excessive speeding, following too closely, erratic lane changes, safe movement violations and other forms of reckless endangerment.

“Speeding drivers and unbelted occupants continue to contribute to death on our highways,” said Collins. “Drinking drivers also play a major role in holiday tragedies. If you chose to drink, then plan on having some other sober adult to drive for you.”

Collins continued by saying, physical and mental impairment caused by drinking alcohol may sometimes have subtle initial effects, but yet have devastating consequences when driving a car.

“Plan ahead and don’t risk your life or the life of others,” he said “No one plans on being involved in a crash, yet each holiday there are many crashes that easily could have been prevented if only good judgment and common sense were used.”

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan urges drivers to utilize safety and common sense on the road.

“I would remind all motorists to practice the Golden Rule when driving. Be courteous and tolerant of other drivers. Please don’t get angry with bad drivers or reckless ones-just get out of their way,” said Vaughan.

He offered the following safety tips to motorists:

Always shift your attention every few seconds, constantly scanning the road ahead and behind you. Never blankly stare ahead nor fix your gaze on one point on the road.

When passing an automobile, always glance at the ground beside the front wheel of the car you intend to pass. You will know instantly if the car is about to veer-giving you an extra few seconds to respond.

You should pull out into the opposite lane of traffic when passing while you are still well behind the car in front. This should give you some time and space to build up speed and will enable you to pull back into your own lane should the need arise. Never cut abruptly out of your lane into the opposite lane when passing.

Always signal your intentions with your brake lights, turn signals, horn and/or headlights so that other drivers will see you well before you change course.

Drivers should always “aim high” in steering. That is, you should glance frequently at points well ahead of you. Not only will this help your steering, but it will also help you check the position of the vehicles in front of you as well as on-coming ones.

Never follow too close. Remember that, as your speed increases, it takes you substantially longer to stop. Also remember that it’s good to have an extra cushion of space in front of you if you’re being tail-gated, on a slippery road, or in low visibility conditions.

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