As local communities celebrate Independence Day this weekend, they can do so with peace of mind that local law enforcement is placing particular emphasis on the safety of drivers and boaters.
At a joint press conference Friday afternoon, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, NC Wildlife Commission and Mooresville Police Department announced the start of two public safety initiatives ahead of one of the biggest weekends Travel and Boating Award of the Year.
“Officers will target freeways and waterways in the NC Highway 150 area,” said NC Highway Patrol Master Trooper Jeffrey Swagger. “Officers will aggressively enforce violations of impaired driving, impaired boating and other applicable laws.”
The increased law enforcement presence is due to the combination of “Operation Dry Water,” a national security initiative, and “Operation Firecracker,” put in place by the state of North Carolina.
According to Highway Patrol, between 2016 and 2020, 41% of drivers killed during the July 4 holiday were impaired in some way. The state also reported that 2021 was its deadliest year for traffic crashes since 1972, with 1,761 fatal wrecks statewide.
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So far this year, seven of the 12 road deaths in Iredell and Alexander counties can be attributed to drugs or alcohol.
The increased law enforcement presence certainly helps the Mooresville Police Department keep townspeople safe while they celebrate.
“It’s a tremendous help,” MPD Cpl. said Jeff Noble. “Every time someone sees a car marked with the blue lights on, we hope it will remind them to make the right choices when it comes to drunk driving, speeding or not wearing seat belts. security.”
As part of Operation Dry Water, the Tri-Agency will conduct sobriety checks on roads and waterways to crack down on impaired driving or boating. Last year, during the same operation, North Carolina law enforcement officers issued 693 warnings, 440 citations and arrested 55 boaters for operating a vessel under the influence.
MPD has their own initiative which they call Vision Zero, where they strive to have zero fatalities on the roads of Mooresville within a year.
“Vision Zero is our goal this weekend,” Noble said. “We want to make sure that when people go out and have fun, they don’t get behind the wheel of a car or boat while intoxicated and potentially weaponize that vehicle.
“We want the people of Mooresville to know that we are there for them, but they also need to be there for themselves. If you see anything, call us. If you think you see an impaired driver, give us a call. We don’t want anyone putting you or your family at risk this weekend.