State Highway Patrol's recommendations for safe holiday travel

Get ready for stepped up patrols and traffic stops as we approach Christmas and the new year.

State troopers and local law officers are looking for impaired drivers, including those who get behind the wheel when they're struggling to recover from a lack of sleep.

"If you don't rest during the day, you will not be rested when you start driving at night," said Sgt. Chris Knox of North Carolina State Highway Patrol. "You must sleep to compensate for that time when you're gonna be on the road, If you're gonna start out make sure that you're prepared, and that would include your body being prepared for that trip ahead of you."

Sgt. Knox also urges everyone to wear seat belts whenever they travel on our roads and highways.

"It's a simple act, and it's something you can do to ensure your holiday season is celebrated with loved ones. Not one that your loved ones will spend having to visit you in the hospital or possibly even worse," Knox said.

Authorities know some people are eager to hit the road for the holidays, after spending most of the year away from loved ones who don't live nearby.

"We know every year, people will travel. This year's a little different. Health concerns are in place, and there are a lot of outside factors other than just driving safely," Sgt. Knox said.

He shared the following tips with ABC11:

With the holiday season in full swing, the State Highway Patrol will be looking to curb the unexpected increase in fatal collisions experienced in 2020. The anticipated increase in vehicle traffic over the coming weeks will require all across North Carolina to practice safe driving habits on our state's roadways.

Prior to deciding whether or not to travel, the SHP strongly encourages the public to visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) website to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Best practices during the holiday season and information on our state's current response to the coronavirus can be found on the DHHS website here.

Last year, troopers responded to 2,970 collisions between the dates of Dec. 24 through Jan. 2. Among those collisions, 745 were injury related and 27 resulted in a fatality. This year, the SHP hopes to decrease the number of collisions during the same time frame by focusing on violations such as excessive speeding, reckless driving, following too close and impaired driving.

"This time of year brings about so much joy for many living in our great state," said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol. "We must pause though, and recognize that there are others who feel grief from a lost loved one due to a traffic collision and this fact drives our agency to work even harder to stop these needless occurrences from taking place."

Among our enforcement efforts is the ongoing 2020 Holiday Booze It & Lose It Campaign running from Monday, Dec.14, 2020 through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
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