On Friday night, 15 December 2017, 45 law enforcers, led by the Jones County, NC, Sheriff’s Office, set up a surprise checkpoint both ways on Highway 70, a main artery that connects coastal NC with points west. The county is a sleepy, sparsely-populated rural one. The officers began at 11:15 p.m. and ran the checkpoint for four hours.
The checkpoint resulted in 16 drug charges, 7 seatbelt violations, 5 alcohol violations, 6 registration violations, 5 driving with license revoked, 3 driving without a license at all, 2 carrying a concealed weapon illegally, one insurance violation, one fictitious tag, and one DUI. They issued appropriate citations and made three arrests.
All this in just four hours outside of drive time in a typical rural county. Extrapolate these figures to a similar four-hour period on all the main arteries in just NC and the results would be mind-numbing. These are apparently the kinds of drivers with whom we share our highways these days. And we’ve every reason to believe the figures would be much worse on a holiday eve when bottled cheer flows freely across the land. According to a 2014 NC report, one out of three fatal crashes in NC involves alcohol. North Carolina had 411 alcohol-related vehicle deaths in 2014. According to the National Safety Council, a total of 40,000 people died senselessly on our nation's highways in 2016, almost a third of those alcohol-related. (For some perspective, that means in just 18 months, more Americans die on the roads than died in the whole decade of the Vietnam War.) In addition to alcoholic lubrication, throw in drug use, cell phone talking and texting while driving, speeding, lane-weaving, passing on the right, and idiots who don’t even have a license or a valid registration or insurance, and driving for you and me becomes one of the most dangerous activities we can do. It’s even worse around the holidays.
So please be careful and defensive out there.