State traffic officials urge everyone to avoid driving drunk this summer and during July 4 holiday

The Robesonian
The Robesonian

GREENVILLE — Officials at the North Carolina Department of Transportation urge the public to avoid drinking and driving this summer and during the July 4 holiday.

The message was shared at Thursday’s kickoff of the annual North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s Fourth of July Booze It & Lose it campaign, dubbed Operation Firecracker. The event was held in Greenville.

Operation Firecracker aims to prevent alcohol-related crashes by targeting impaired drivers during the July 4 holiday season, according to NCDOT. This year’s campaign runs June 28 to July 4 with law enforcement agencies running sobriety checkpoints in all 100 counties to help catch drunk drivers and reduce fatalities across the state.

“With the summer, upcoming holidays and people emerging after quarantine — emergency departments across the state, and the first responders you see here today, will unfortunately see increases in people (especially teenagers and young people) injured or killed after making the unforgivable decision to drink and drive — a tragedy that is completely avoidable,” said Dr. Jason Hack, emergency medicine physician for East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Thursday’s event celebrated the hard work and sacrifices made by health care workers, emergency medical services, law enforcement, military personnel and other first responders during the pandemic. Speakers urged North Carolina drivers to help emergency responders by not drinking and driving.

“They have been keeping us and our families, friends and neighbors safe during the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina,” Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program said in a statement. “And they will be working again to keep us safe this Fourth of July, when many of us are vacationing and enjoying time with friends and family.

“We are grateful for their hard work. But I hope they will not have to handle any impaired driving cases this July 4th holiday.”

So far in 2021, 145 people have died as a result of alcohol- and drug-related crashes in North Carolina. While that is a decrease from this time last year, it’s not enough, according to NCDOT.

“Law enforcement will be proactively assuring our roads are safe from those that persist in drinking and driving,” Pitt County Sheriff Paula S. Dance said. “We want everyone to survive by calling a taxi, Uber, Lyft or a friend.

“This one decision - drive or don’t drive - will affect everyone on the road. Make it a good decision. Save a life. It could be your own.”

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