Hickory – With the holiday season comes holiday parties and celebrations. Too often, drunk driving becomes an issue during this festive time of the year. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) are working to keep the holidays joyful and prevent drunk driving accidents on North Carolina roadways.

Friday, December 9, the City of Hickory welcomed North Carolina Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson, GHSP Director Don Nail, and Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant, as well as many local law enforcement officers to L.P. Frans Stadium for the Booze It & Lose It kick-off event.

The Booze It & Lose It campaign reminds party-goers to have a designated driver and make plans for a safe drive home. Taxi cabs and app services are also encouraged as a means for safe travel. Additionally, law enforcement officers will be watching closely for impaired drivers and numerous checkpoints will be set throughout the state. “One death on our roadways is too many,” explained Tennyson. “Most can be prevented by better decision making by the drivers behind the wheel.”

To help drivers make better decisions, Nail explained, “Law enforcement will increase the number of saturation patrols and checkpoints to ensure that drivers know that if you’re driving after drinking, police will stop you. Impaired drivers could face jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, towing fees, and other expenses, totaling $10,000 on average. That doesn’t even count the heftier price you could pay: the price of your life or someone else’s.”

An especially somber moment during the event was when Alicia Storie, a victim of a drunk driver, shared her story about losing her husband in a crash and the multiple injuries she endured from the accident. Her words served as a solemn reminder that impaired driving has grave consequences.

Follow these tips from the GHSP to stay safe on the road this holiday season:

• If you will be drinking, do not drive.  Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

• Plan your safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, use public transportation or use a rideshare app. Try the BeSmarterThanThat.com mobile site, which allows users to call a taxi or friend and identify their location so they can be picked up.

• If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a safe way home.

• If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

• Drive the posted speed limit.  Slow down in work zones and in inclement weather.

• Don’t drive distracted.  Remember that one text or call could wreck it all.

• Buckle-up and make sure your passengers are always properly restrained.  Click It or Ticket. Every seat. Every time. It’s the law.

Photo: Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson spoke at LP Frans Stadium