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Police 'out in force' this Labor Day weekend

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Local law enforcement agencies will again participate in the state’s annual Booze It & Loose It campaign this Labor Day weekend.

In Nash County last Labor Day weekend, three people died and 57 people were injured in a total of 108 crashes, according to statistics provided by the N.C. State Highway Patrol.

“We participate in all Governor’s Highway Safety Program campaigns,” said Middlesex Police Chief Mike Collins.

Bailey Police Chief Steve Boraski and Spring Hope Police Chief Nathan Gant also confirmed their departments will be participating, meaning increased checkpoints and patrols on southern Nash County roads.

“Please remember if you do drink, please do not drive. We want everyone to enjoy their Labor Day Weekend. As a reminder, officers will be out in force this weekend looking for possible drunk drivers and other violations,” the Bailey Police Department said in a Monday post to its Facebook page. 

The N.C. State Highway Patrol and members of more than 500 law enforcement agencies across the state, including sheriff’s offices and municipal police departments, will be part of the campaign this year, said Miracle King, a communications specialist with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

“Removing impaired drivers before they harm themselves or someone else is among our highest priorities throughout the holiday weekend,” Highway Patrol Col. Glenn McNeill Jr. said in a news release. “Ensuring safe travel is a shared responsibility among both law enforcement and those who travel across our great state.”

The Labor Day holiday is the fourth most dangerous weekend to be on the roads behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. High-visibility enforcement reduces drunken driving fatalities as much as 20%, according to the Highway Patrol.

Historically, drunken driving accounts for nearly a third of North Carolina’s vehicle-related fatalities.

Running through Sept. 13, the campaign kicked off Monday. Law enforcement agencies are joining forces with the N.C. Trucking Association and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad decisions made behind the wheel; people getting dressed, texting, reading the newspaper and putting on makeup. Some are even using prescription drugs, illegal substances and drinking while driving,” said D. Luke Mallory, a road team captain with the trucking association.

Last year, state troopers responded to more than 1,351 collisions throughout the Labor Day weekend. Among those collisions, 402 resulted in an injury and 12 resulted in one or more fatalities. During the same time, 94 collisions occurred due to impairment of either alcohol or drugs.

Over the 2019 holiday week statewide, 10 people died and almost 600 were injured as a direct result of impaired driving on North Carolina roads. In addition, 66 lives were claimed due to speeding, and distracted and sleepy driving.

Motorists can help reduce needless collisions by following these suggestions:

• Plan ahead by ensuring a designated driver has been selected.

• Use a ridesharing service if no designated driver is available.

• Prepare for delays by choosing alternate routes.

• Monitor speed limits and avoid driving distracted.

• Increase following distances.

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