Be extra careful on roads during holiday weekend

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More than a million North Carolinians are expected to hit the roads over the Labor Day weekend, taking their last trip to mark the end of summer. And with many people on the roads, authorities want to remind drivers to remain vigilant and be safe in hopes of preventing a tragedy.

“Traditionally during the Labor Day holiday, our highways experience one of the highest traffic flows of the year,” said Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard.

Last year, there were 23 fatalities and nearly 2,000 injuries as a result of crashes across North Carolina during the holiday period, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. Law enforcement will also be stepping up patrols and implementing campaigns, including NCDOT’s “Booze It & Lose It” campaign in effort to reduce drunk driving.

Woodard provided several safety tips for drivers for the holiday weekend:

• Always shift your attention every few seconds, constantly scanning the road ahead and behind you. Never blankly stare ahead or fix your gaze on one point on the road.

• When passing an automobile, always glance at the ground beside the front wheel of the car you intend to pass. You will know instantly if the car is about to veer — giving you an extra few seconds to respond.

• You should pull out into the opposite lane of traffic when passing while you are still well behind the car in front. This should give you some time and space to build up speed and will enable you to pull back into your own lane should the need arise. Never cut abruptly out of your lane into the opposite lane when passing.

• Always signal your intentions with your brake lights, turn signals, horn and/or headlights so that other drivers will see you well before you change course.

• Drivers should always “aim high” in steering. That is, you should glance frequently at points well ahead of you. Not only will this help your steering, but it will also help you check the position of vehicles in front of you as well as oncoming ones.

• Never follow too close. Remember that, as your speed increases, it takes you substantially longer to stop. Also remember that it’s good to have an extra cushion of space in front of you if you’re being tailgated, on a slippery road, or in low visibility conditions.

“Lastly, I would remind all motorists to practice the Golden Rule when driving: Be courteous and tolerant of other drivers,” Woodard said. “Please don’t get angry with bad drivers or reckless ones — just get out of their way. Let’s make this Labor Day weekend a safe one on the roads in Wilson County.”