Shared by IRPO–Thanksgiving Travel

NCDOT is suspending most construction activity along its major highways to keep lanes open for those traveling for Thanksgiving.

The work along interstates, as well as U.S. and key N.C. routes is expected to shut down from the morning of Nov. 24 through the evening of Nov. 30. There are some exceptions where construction conditions make it unsafe to open all lanes. This includes some locations where lanes are under construction or where a bridge is being replaced. Work that does not impact travel lanes can continue for some projects.

Before you hit the road, go to driveNC.gov for the most up-to-date traffic information. 

Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket Campaign

The annual Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign will be in place next week. Law enforcement will be stepping up enforcement of speeding, drunk driving and, of course, seat belt laws in all 100 counties. Violators of North Carolina’s seat belt law are fined $179; if a passenger under 15 is not properly restrained there’s a $263 fine.

NCDOT Great Trails State Plan – Public Review of Draft Trail Network Maps

NCDOT and its consultants are making excellent progress on the Great Trails State Plan. The consulting team is working on the first draft of the plan, and they are in the last stages of finalizing the draft trail network. They have received great feedback from Division stakeholders in the last couple of months that have helped to refine the network from earlier drafts. They also received over 13,000 responses from the public through their survey and online web map.

To finalize the draft network, NCDOT would like to get additional feedback from the public in response to the draft maps. Please go here to see them. The deadline for public comment on the draft maps is Friday, December 4th, 2020.

Thermal Belt Rail Trail, Rutherford County

For more information about the Plan, go here.

Shared by IRPO–Slide Closes N.C. 226 Between McDowell, Mitchell Counties

NCDOT hopes to reopen highway Sunday

MARION – A rockslide early Friday morning closed the primary route between Mitchell and McDowell counties.

The slide occurred on N.C. 226 about one-half mile north of U.S. 221 and covered both lanes with dirt, rock and trees after Tropical Storm Zeta moved through the area.

N.C. Department of Transportation officials have established a 90-mile detour for commercial and visitor traffic. Northbound commercial vehicles should take I-40 West to I-240 West to I-26 West to U.S. 19E east to its intersection with N.C. 226 in Mitchell County. Southbound vehicles should take the routes in reverse.

Passenger vehicles may use U.S. 221 North, N.C. 194 West and U.S. 19E a detour. This route cannot accommodate large vehicles or trucks with trailers.  “We are mobilizing equipment, coordinating with emergency services, and working with the power company,” said Scott Killough, an assistant maintenance engineer with NCDOT. “We estimate that there’s more than 100 dump-truck loads of material that we’ll have to haul away.

“Our goal is to reopen the highway by Sunday morning.”

Geotechnical experts will analyze the area and aid with necessary safety precautions before, during and after the clearing operation. Power company crews will first remove trees from the power lines, then NCDOT crews will use heavy equipment to haul away the debris and a final safety evaluation will be performed before the highway is opened.

Transportation officials advise drivers to set aside additional time to travel around N.C. 226 this weekend. 

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

***NCDOT***

Shared by IRPO–Survive the Frightful Trip on Halloween by Traveling Sober

Survive the Frightful Trip on Halloween by Traveling Sober
  RALEIGH – To help spread the message that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program is teaming up with law enforcement, traffic safety officials, and crash survivors to remind everyone of the dangers of drunk driving.

In a video release, NCGHSP alerted the public that officers will be out conducting increased patrols starting today Oct. 26 – Nov. 1 to identify and remove impaired drivers from our roads during the annual Halloween “Booze It & Lose It” campaign.

“We want North Carolinians to have a fun night on Halloween, but to also stay safe and make responsible choices,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “In today’s world, there are many options available to drivers to help them get home safely if they have been drinking. If you have ingested any impairing substance: alcohol, pills, marijuana or something else, do not drive. If you know someone who is impaired, don’t let them get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver, call 911. And always wear your seat belt, it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.”

The video also included the account of teenagers who survived a crash last year, but tragically lost their friend and grandmother due to the actions of an impaired driver.

Sadly, their story is an all too familiar one. Consider these frightening facts: In 2018 around the U.S., 231 children 14 and younger were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Almost half of the fatal vehicle crashes over the Halloween weekend involve an impaired driver. About one-quarter of pedestrian deaths on Halloween night involve an impaired driver. “Despite COVID-19 we’re certain people will be gathering and drinking all Halloween weekend, and we need every single partygoer to plan their sober ride home in advance,” said NCGHSP Director, Mark Ezzell. “Last year, 35 people lost their lives on North Carolina roadways during the week of Halloween, and nine of those deaths were caused by impaired drivers. We don’t want that to happen this year!”

Of the 1,442 fatalities on North Carolina roadways in 2018, 411 of those involved an impaired driver. Impaired driving isn’t just an issue here, explained Sarah Searcy, Bicycle & Pedestrian manager at the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at N.C. State University. That’s more than one in every five children who died in traffic crashes that year. “Nationwide, 36,560 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2018, and 29 percent of those fatalities occurred in crashes during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of .08,” Searcy said.

Drivers should also keep an eye out for pedestrians, whether they are children or adults who have had too much to drink. Walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as pedestrians are not paying attention to their surroundings and so, are at greater risk of getting hit by a vehicle.

Safe driving is a lifelong commitment. Follow our social media accounts: @NCGHSP on Facebook and @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram for frequent safe driving tips!

***NCDOT***

TCC and TAC Meetings on November 4, 2020

The RPO will hold a Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) and a Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting on November 4th, 2020 by Zoom.

The Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) meeting will start at 10:30 AM and you can listen to the meeting by calling +1 646 558 8656 and entering the meeting ID: 880 0938 7957 and password: 9202283. See the agenda here.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting will start at 1:00 PM and you can listen to the meeting by calling +1 646 558 8656 and entering the meeting ID: 842 5900 8853 and password: 5371397. See the agenda here.

If you have a comment, please email it to isothermalrpo@regionc.org by 9:00 AM, November 4th, 2020.

Shared by IRPO–Seat Belt Surveys Underway, Trouble Spots Concerning

Seat Belt Surveys Underway, Trouble Spots Concerning
  RALEIGH – The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (NCGHSP) is working with researchers this month to determine the statewide official seat belt use rate.

“Researchers will be observing several areas, primarily our larger metropolitan: Mecklenburg County which has experienced a sharp decline of nearly eight percent,” said Mark Ezzell, NCGHSP Director.

Researchers with N.C. State’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education will be conducting roadside surveys now through the end of the month across 120 randomly selected sites; observing belted and unbelted drivers and passengers.

Last year’s statewide seat belt usage rate was 88.4 percent, which was down from 91.3% the previous year. In 2017 the rate stood at 91.4%.

“While this three-year trend is still above the average of many states, a slight decline in numbers reflects thousands of individuals who are simply choosing not to protect themselves and others around them,” said Ezzell.

Fast facts:
If you’re ejected from a vehicle in a crash, odds are that you will not survive. In 2018, 84% of the people totally ejected from passenger vehicles in crashes were killed.

Wearing your seat belt is the most effective way to prevent ejection; only 1% of passenger vehicle occupants wearing seat belts were ejected in fatal crashes, compared to 33% of those who were unrestrained.

Previous studies indicate that women buckle up more than men and people between the ages of 45 and 64 lead the way in seat belt usage.

Males are more likely than females to be unrestrained in fatal crashes.

Younger people continue to be overrepresented in fatal crashes and seat belt nonuse. In North Carolina those between the ages of 16 and 24 are most at risk.

Of the 100 counties around the state, 15 have the most unstable rates:
Mecklenburg
Pender
Robeson
Sampson
Columbus
Alamance
Buncombe
Catawba
Cleveland
Durham
Forsyth
Guilford
Nash
Wake
Wilkes

“As we approach the month of October, which is by far the deadliest month on our roadways, we need people to start buckling up again and ultimately reduce the injuries and deaths in motor vehicle crashes we are seeing,” said Ezzell.

Seat belt use rate results are necessary to qualify for federal seat belt incentive grants. Those federal funds are used for initiatives that support the elimination of preventable roadway deaths across North Carolina.

We want to hear from North Carolina drivers and passengers who decided to buckle up and prevented serious injury or death in a vehicle crash.

If the seat belt has saved your life post your story on social media with a picture and tag @NCGHSP on Facebook or @NC_GHSP on Twitter and Instagram for recognition.

***NCDOT***