Safe holiday begins behind the wheel

Published 10:40 am Thursday, December 22, 2016


AHOSKIE – State and local law enforcement agencies want to make sure our roads and our families are safe this holiday season.

December 16th through January 1st is historically the most dangerous time for motorists to travel, especially at nighttime. It is estimated that approximately one-third of all fatalities from motor vehicle collisions occur after at least one driver has imbibed in alcohol, so the North Carolina Highway Patrol (NCHP) partners with the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) every year during the holiday season for the “Booze It & Lose It” campaign, among multiple other safety efforts.

First Sgt. Mike Warren of the NCHP office in Ahoskie spoke with the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald regarding efforts to keep dangerous drivers off of the roadways.

“The North Carolina State Highway Patrol and members of Troop A / District II want you to choose to live during this holiday season by slowing down, buckling up and choosing not to drink and drive,” Warren noted.

He added, “There are numerous festive holiday parties at this time of the year and we know that alcohol is served at some of these events. What we’re asking is that those who opt to drink alcohol to make the wise choice of making arrangements in advance to have a sober licensed motorist to drive you home.”

Statewide, Director Don Nail of the GHSP said that his office was helping to coordinate the annual year-end Booze It & Lose It enforcement campaign as well as Click It Or Ticket.

“This ought to be the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ so we will do what it takes to help save lives and keep our roads safe,” Nail stated.

“Beginning Dec. 16 and continuing into the New Year, law enforcement will be watching closely for anyone who is driving impaired,” he added.

In 2015, 431 people were killed in North Carolina in crashes involving an impaired driver according to Nail’s office, and in December 2015 there were 14 people killed in crashes involving at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.

Fatalities resulting from an impaired driver are currently down 19.1 percent compared to 2015 with 322 deaths in North Carolina so far this year, but as any death is one too many, the GHSP wants to help ensure roads stay as safe as possible by increasing police presence on roadways.

“Law enforcement will increase the number of saturation patrols and checkpoints to ensure that drivers know that if you’re driving after drinking, police will stop you,” continued Nail.

He added, “Impaired drivers could face jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, towing fees, and other expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. That doesn’t even count the heftier price you could pay: the price of your life or someone else’s.”

Among the law enforcement offices that will be out on patrol in the coming weeks are the members of several DWI Task Force teams funded through grants awarded and administered by the GHSP. These officers are responsible for working nightly to catch impaired drivers.

Nail’s office advises motorists to follow these tips to stay safe on the road this holiday season:

If you will be drinking, do not drive. Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

Plan your safe ride home before you start the party.

Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, use public transportation if available or use a rideshare app.

Try the mobile site, which allows users to call a taxi or friend and identify their location so they can be picked up.

If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a safe way home.

If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

Drive the posted speed limit. Slow down in work zones and in inclement weather.

Don’t drive distracted. Remember that one text or call could wreck it all.

Buckle-up and make sure your passengers are always properly restrained.