State launches Operation FirecrackerPublished 5:40pm Monday, June 30, 2014
The weather is warm, a national holiday is approaching and North Carolina law enforcement is cracking down on drivers who break the rules.
Saturday marked the beginning of the Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker campaign, a Governor’s Highway Safety Program designed to prevent people from drinking and driving.
Locally, that means more checkpoints over the next few days.
“We’re just doing some checkpoints and some random patrols of the major roadways because that’s where most of the major stuff is going to be — on major roadways like (U.S. Highway) 17 and (U.S. Highway) 264,” said First Sergeant Brandon Craft of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Craft said traffic picks up during the summer, which means the opportunity for more accidents rises as well.
“Well, there’s definitely a bunch more traffic — it’s because people are going on vacation and those types things, and people need to slow down, pay attention to other drivers and don’t drink and drive,” Craft said.
In 2013, there were 353 alcohol-related fatalities in North Carolina. Fewer people have lost their lives to alcohol-related crashes this year, with statistics showing 105 alcohol-related fatalities through June 20, compared to 164 at the same point last year, according to a press release from the NCDOT.
Measures taken to improve safety this week include stepped up saturation patrols, checking stations and increased public awareness are all playing a role in ensuring that those who decide to drink don’t drive.
“On Independence Day or any other day of the year, if you are driving after drinking, law enforcement will be working to keep you off the roads,” said Don Nail, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “Driving after even one drink is risking your life and the lives of others. It’s simple — just don’t do it. Get a ride home from someone that has not been drinking.”
GHSP officials recommend the following to prevent drunk driving:
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
• If impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
• Contact local law enforcement if a drunk driver is on the road
• Take the keys away from someone who is impaired by alcohol and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
During two weeks of Operation Firecracker in 2013, law enforcement in Beaufort County had 24 checkpoints, 96 saturation patrols, issued 218 speeding tickets and arrest 13 people for driving while impaired.