CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Thanksgiving is around the corner and people are packing their bags to visit family. AAA predicts more than 48 million folks will be hitting the roads nationwide. The holiday season is a time to celebrate, but for Highway Patrol, it can be the toughest part of the job.
"The last thing you want to do is to knock on someone's door - especially during the holidays - to tell them that their loved one has been involved in a fatal collision and will not be making it home that holiday season," said Trooper Ray Pierce.
He says North Carolina troopers have been knocking on doors during the holidays every year.
"The ultimate goal is to have no fatalities during the holiday season.”
Pierce says troopers are all hands on deck to try and make that happen.
"Everyone is working Wednesday and everyone is working Sunday.”
On Interstate 40, troopers will be staked out every 20 miles. In Mecklenburg County, I-85 and I-77 will be the target areas.
"What are you looking for? Speeders?"
"Any type of driving that contributes to collisions. Speeding, aggressive driving, following too closely, careless and reckless driving. Impaired driving is a big thing around the holiday."
Trooper Pierce says you can call *HP to report any of that. Last year, 16 people died on North Carolina highways during the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Highway Patrol.
It's especially difficult to cover the highways with more than 200 trooper vacancies state-wide, according to Pierce.
"Does it mean that troopers get less days off during the holiday season? Yes, but everyone takes that in stride… Everyone is aware of the shortage and making the sacrifices and the changes needed to keep response times down and keep the enforcement numbers up."
Trooper Pierce will also be working this Thanksgiving holiday.
"My family lives close enough that I can drive there before and after work. Some guys are two, three hours away from home so they won't see family over the holidays.”
This Thanksgiving, thank a trooper for taking time away from their family to keep ours safe.