Both the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol are launching initiatives to encourage traffic safety.

Martin County Sheriff Tim Manning announced a new partnership with Toby Keith, the award-winning country music performer, to create public service announcements for the National Sheriff’s Association. Keith created a public service announcement, paid for with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to encourage people to buckle up, slow down, drive sober and focus on driving.

“While traffic safety may not always be at the forefront of what we do, I am committed to the safety and well-being of our citizens in every way,” Sheriff Manning said. “We hope these public service announcements will be just one additional way to remind people to focus on driving, drive sober, slow down and buckle up.”

The PSA will be distributed to 1,900 television outlets and radio stations across the United States.

While the sheriff’s association is playing the “long game” when it comes to traffic safety, the N.C. Highway Patrol has set up plans for Memorial Day weekend. The NCHP said more than 37 million motorists take to the roadways during Memorial Day weekend and for that reason, they encourage people to plan ahead before traveling.

The N.C. Highway Patrol said officers will be out in “full force” this weekend to help reduce speeds, impaired driving and distracted driving. In addition, the NCHP has partnered with the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s Click It or Ticket campaign to emphasize seat belt violations.

Motorists are encouraged to:

* Expect Delays - Research routes in advance to include secondary routes, detours and possible road closures. Up-to-date information regarding delays and closures can be found at www.DriveNC.gov; *Monitor Speed – Obey the posted speed limit and be mindful of speed limit reductions within work zones;

* Wear Seat Belts – Seat belts must be worn in both front and back seats if available;

* Avoid Road Rage- Use patience when driving and avoid other motorists who may contribute to road rage situations. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you;

* Don't Drive Distracted - Avoid any distraction(s) while driving that reduces your ability to drive safely;

* Collision Reporting - Motorists involved in a property damage collision are asked to move their vehicles to the shoulder or emergency strip. Motorists involved in injury-related collisions should immediately contact 911 or *HP (*47) for emergency assistance.

* Reporting Dangerous Drivers or Other Emergencies- Motorists are encouraged to dial *HP or 911.

The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to shut down major construction that could affect travelers because of lane closures along interstates, U.S. highways and key N.C. routes from Friday evening until Tuesday morning.

There will be exceptions and travelers are urged to use drivenc.gov or follow the NCDOT on social media for real-time travel information. During daytime hours, motorists may also call 411 for travel information.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.