NCDOT: Fewer DWI arrests may mean tide turning for safety on NC roads

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Overall DWI arrests numbers are down and law enforcement officials say it is a good sign for the future of road safety in north Carolina.

Officials from the North Carolina Department of Transportation are saying thank you to drivers who stopped, thought twice and took another way home before getting behind the wheel impaired over the last two weeks.

Newly-released numbers from law enforcement agencies around the state may reveal that awareness spurred by events such as the Governor's Highway Safety Program's latest Booze It & Lose It: Operation Fire Cracker campaign is saving more lives.

During the latest campaign, which ran from June 27 through July 10, state and local law enforcement agencies targeted impaired drivers with extensive efforts.

Officials say nearly every law enforcement agency in the state participated in the campaign by constantly holding sobriety checkpoints in all NC counties.

DOT said the campaign proved especially effective in catching impaired drivers and helping combat impaired driving deaths.

The 2018 Operation Firecracker campaign netted 1,373 total arrests, which is 76 fewer than the 1,449 arrests made during the same time frame in 2017.

"This means that drivers are getting it," said Mark Ezzell, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "They are learning to make better choices instead of driving while impaired. Campaigns like these are all about saving lives, and these results show North Carolinians are getting that message."

The campaign complements the NC Vision Zero initiative, which also aims to save lives on North Carolina roadways.

Officials say the goal is to reach zero traffic-related deaths through efforts that help reduce risky driving behaviors by changing the overall traffic safety culture.

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