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Troopers expect heavy traffic, wet road conditions over Memorial Day weekend


Trooper Doug Coley gives a lecture about safe driving at D.H. Conley High School in 2016. Coley said Memorial Day travelers should adjust their speed to match weather and road conditions.


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, May 25, 2018

With millions of North Carolinians traveling during the Memorial Day weekend, troopers with the State Highway Patrol are out in full force to monitor driver behavior in an effort to reduce crashes.  

The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program is partnering with state and local law enforcement for its annual Memorial Day Click It or Ticket campaign that began May 21 and continues through June 3, concurrent with one of the busiest holiday travel weekends of the year. Law enforcement will be citing motorists who are not properly belted.

“It’s more important than ever to remind North Carolinians to wear their seat belt and properly restrain their children,” a news release stated. “Deaths among people not wearing seat belts have decreased 4.5 percent from this time last year. However, unrestrained serious injuries increased by 32 percent in North Carolina from 2016 to 2017.”

North Carolina law requires all passengers in a vehicle to be properly restrained and violations are punishable by fines of up to $179. Children younger than 8 years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If they are not properly restrained, the driver faces fines up to $250 plus court costs.

The Click It or Ticket initiative marks its 25th anniversary this month. When it launched in May 1993, only 64 percent of North Carolinians used their seat belt. Today nearly 92 percent buckle up.

Common crashes occur as a result of distracted driving, intoxicated drivers and unbelted drivers. During the 2016 Memorial Day weekend, there were 1,809 crashes statewide, 20 of which were fatal. Of those crashes, 169 were alcohol related, 10 of which were fatal.  When it came to unbelted drivers, 12 people were killed.  

With rain in the forecast, troopers are advising motorists to drive using appropriate speed and following distances based on road conditions. 

Trooper Doug Coley, public information officer for Greenville’s Troop A headquarters, said that traveling at the posted speed limit is not always the best decision.

“That might not be the safest speed depending on the road conditions depending on inclement weather or heavy traffic,” Coley said. “You need to reduce your speed according to the road conditions,” he said. He added, “ With wet roadways, you need to increase your braking distance.”

Coley also recommended that people who decide to drink plan ahead of time.   

“Most people know when they go out if they will be drinking or not, so making those decisions before you start drinking is really important,” Coley said. “Once somebody starts drinking, they don’t make the best decisions.

“If you’re planning on going out, have a designated driver or plan to stay somewhere,” he said. “There are other options like Uber or a taxi cab where you don’t have to get behind the wheel.  Everybody wants to have a safe holiday and somebody making a bad decision can ruin it for a lot of people.”

AAA Carolinas also offered some safety tips before drivers hit the road:

■ Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. Check the battery life, engine coolant and tire pressure.

■ Map your route in advance. Have the directions printed out or designate a passenger to be in charge of phone directions to avoid the distraction behind the wheel.

■ Consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.

■ Keep anything of value in the trunk or hidden in the car so that it is not visible through the windows.

■ If you are traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers on your pit stops and accompany them to restrooms during stops.

■ Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.

■ Keep a cellphone (fully charged) safely secured in your vehicle for emergency calls.

■ Have an emergency kit complete with water, medicine, snacks, jumper cables and a first aid kit.

For the latest travel information, visit www.Drivenc.gov 

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR