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Police: We’re cracking down on holiday speeders, drunk drivers

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  • Fourth of July travel

    By plane

    AAA Carolinas says air travel will be up about 1 percent this year over Independence Day 2012. Fares are higher, but AAA expects 105,000 Carolinas residents to travel by jet.

    Travelers using Charlotte Douglas International Airport are reminded to allow extra time because the hourly parking decks have been torn down for new decks. In the meantime, people who are making short-term visits to the airport should park in the long-term lots and take shuttle buses to the terminal.

    Gas prices

    AAA says North Carolina’s average price of $3.43 is up 19 cents over the July Fourth holiday last summer and up 5 cents from Memorial Day. The state’s price is 9 cents lower than the national average. South Carolina’s average price is $3.22, which is a 24-cent increase from last Independence Day but down 2 cents from Memorial Day.

    Highway travel

    Most highway construction projects will be suspended from 4 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Friday in North Carolina, and from 6 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Sunday in South Carolina.

    The N.C. Highway Patrol is conducting its “Booze It & Lose It” campaign against drunken drivers. Both states will be fully staffed on the highways and waterways.

    Highway study

    The Reason Foundation’s study ranked North Dakota as No. 1 in road conditions, followed in the top 10 by Kansas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Missouri, South Dakota and Mississippi. Ranked 50th and last was Alaska.

    Hartgen said South Carolina was No. 1 in the country in disbursements per mile and total spending per mile. Its overall ranking was hurt by being 48th nationally in traffic fatalities. The state dropped one notch from last year’s rankings.

    North Carolina was third nationally in spending per mile but was 40th in deficient bridges and 43rd in urban interstate congestion.



Law enforcement agencies in the Carolinas say they will make an extra effort to curb drunk driving over the Independence Day holiday weekend, which one study earlier this year showed to be the deadliest holiday for motorists.

State troopers in the two states have special campaigns under way, aimed at getting drunk drivers off the road.

In addition, the N.C. Highway Patrol says it will be watching for speeders and other aggressive drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety earlier this year found that 20 of 36 traffic fatalities in the Carolinas last Independence Day weekend involved alcohol use.

In North Carolina, state troopers stopped nearly 2,000 drivers on DWI charges over the July 4 period in 2012. Numbers from South Carolina were not available.

Officials say alcohol use is common at Independence Day cookouts and other gatherings.

“Motorists should make plans in advance to find a safe way home, by getting a designated driver or calling a cab,” said David Parsons, CEO of AAA Carolinas.

Don Nail, newly appointed director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, said, “The July 4th holiday is a time to make memories with family and friends, but those memories can easily turn tragic if you drink and drive.”

Law enforcement agencies in both states are conducting a number of checkpoints between today and Sunday. And state highway patrols in Georgia and Virginia have announced similar efforts.

Motorists who speed or drive recklessly also will come under the spotlight of police.

The N.C. Highway Patrol said troopers are paying closest attention to motorists who speed, follow too closely, make erratic lane changes, or are spotted texting while driving.

“Speed is the No. 1 factor in fatal collisions, and our troopers will be looking for aggressive drivers, drunk drivers, and other violators while patrolling throughout the state during the holiday week,” said Highway Patrol commander Col. Bill Gray.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107
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