If you're planning to hit the road for the Fourth of July holiday, you not only have to worry about gas prices but the number of impaired drivers on the road. That is why law enforcement agencies across the state are stepping up patrols starting today. The Fourth of July holiday is considered one of the deadliest for highway travel. So to send a message, law enforcement officers will be out in full force to show drinking and driving is not the best way to celebrate your independence. Through July 6, drivers will see an increase in checkpoints and patrols as part of the booze it and lose it: Operation Firecracker campaign. Sgt. J.O. Holmes of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said, "We are really concentrating on impaired driving arrests. There will be a lot of checkpoints, saturation patrols. While we will be looking for any hazardous moving violations, obviously alcohol-related offenses are going to be one of our top priorities." Out of the 60 fatal crashes in North Carolina during last year's Independence Day holiday week, twenty-one were alcohol related. Operation Firecracker also pulled over more than 2,000 drivers last year who were driving impaired. And, with heavy traffic expected this year, officers aren't taking any chances. "Because of the traffic and congestion, and then you combine that with the holiday weekend, we have a large number of collisions and unfortunately we have a large number of fatalities, and we are going to do everything we can to bring those numbers down," said Holmes. Along with Operation Firecracker, July 5 also marks the Hands Across America Project. Troopers will be stationed along I-40 every 15 miles from Wilmington, to where 40 ends in Barstow, California.
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