ROCKINGHAM — Labor Day weekend, the end-of-summer holiday, is fast approaching and local law enforcement is reminding motorists to slow down.
AAA Carolinas predicts 34.7 million people nationwide will travel this weekend, and more than 6.3 million of those will be from South Atlantic states, including the Virginias and the Carolinas.
1st Sgt. A.K. Dietrich of the N.C. Highway Patrol said there are several factors that contribute to the number of crashes in the state.
“The No. 1 contributing factor in Richmond County is exceeding a legal speed,” Dietrich said. “After that, it’s unsafe movements, failure to yield and then alcohol and drugs.”
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety also cites speed as the leading cause of traffic collisions and fatalities in the state. Last year in North Carolina, troopers investigated 14 fatal collisions and 403 injury collisions over Labor Day weekend alone.
Highway Patrol troopers will increase patrols on all interstates and major four-lane highways beginning Thursday and ending at midnight on Monday in hopes of deterring drivers from speeding. Troopers will be using LIDAR and radar to monitor speeding and enforce the law.
In addition to avoiding expensive speeding tickets, drivers benefit in other ways by sticking to posted speed limits. Statistics indicate that motorists who slow down and travel at legal speeds can travel more miles per gallon of fuel than drivers who push the pedal to the metal.
Dietrich said the worst roads in Richmond County for collisions are the usual suspects.
“Highway 74, No. 1 and 220,” he said. “And again, speed is likely to be a factor. It will also get you a ticket.”
Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said troopers will be watching out for signs of road rage such as tailgating and sudden passing. Drivers who flagrantly violate the motor vehicle laws by following too closely and making erratic lane changes can be cited for reckless endangerment.
“Speed is the No. 1 factor in fatal collisions,” Gordon said in a release. “And we will be looking for aggressive drivers, drunk drivers and other violators while patrolling throughout the state during the holiday week. “
Citizens are encouraged to report crashes, drunk drivers, stranded motorists or other highway situations to the N.C. Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) on their mobile phones. The toll-free call will automatically connect the caller with the nearest Highway Patrol communications center.
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.