NC's Operation Firecracker in Full Gear
As people make Fourth of July celebration plans, state law enforcement officers want them to include road safety.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has launched Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker. Don Nail is director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. He says the number of people in North Carolina who have died in alcohol-related accidents is dropping. “We were down to 107 alcohol-related fatalities so far this year as compared to 170 last year at this time that were alcohol related," explains Nail. By the end of 2013, there were 353 alcohol-related deaths in North Carolina. Nail says the 2013 figure was lower than any of the previous five years of the program. Nail believes this drop is connected to the use of multi-agency task force teams in some of the state’s top 25 counties that have a high incidence of alcohol-related deaths. State troopers and local officers work together to monitor traffic accidents. In terms of alcohol-related deaths, from 2007 - 2011 Guilford County ranked fourth and Forsyth County ranked sixth. Both counties have highway task force teams.
According to Nail, most alcohol-related accidents involve drivers/passengers between the age of 18 to 35. He believes most of these fatal incidents can be easily avoided. “When you look at the alcohol issue, a lot of people know beforehand they are going to drink. So they need to make other arrangements for traveling safely and have a sober driver, someone who has not consumed any alcohol,” says Nail.This July Fourth holiday weekend, Nail estimates 400 to 450 law enforcement agencies across the state will participate in the Booze It & Lose It program. Amid the increased presence of law enforcement officers, he reminds drivers not to text or do anything that can distract them and encourages everyone to buckle up.