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STATE — Prayers for Passage: Clergy rally in county with highest crashes per capita

Safety agencies kick off ‘Booze It & Lose It’ campaign

LUMBERTON – Clergy from across Robeson County gathered Thursday at the county Emergency Operations Center to pray for the safety of drivers on the first day of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s Labor Day ‘Booze it & Lose it’ campaign.

The campaign, which increases law enforcement presence across the entire state through Monday, Sept.3, complements the NC Vision Zero initiative in Robeson County.

Vision Zero is a campaign to reach zero traffic-related fatalities through coordinated agency-to-agency efforts, such as law enforcement, better designed roads and educational outreach, with the hopes of reducing risky driving behaviors by changing traffic safety culture.

“Robeson County has the highest number of crashes per capita in North Carolina, and we can’t wait another day to do something about it,” said NCDOT Board Member Grady Hunt, who leads the newly formed Robeson County Vision Zero Task Force. “We hope that clergy in and around this community will help us spur conversation about this crisis on our roadways.”

Robeson has the highest number of crashes per registered vehicle in the state with an average of 43 people dying in crashes annually.

“People are dying mostly because of drunk driving, speeding and not wearing seat belts,” said GHSP Director Mark Ezzell. “Engaging the faith-based community from across the county is critical to re-enforcing that saving lives on our roadways is not a partisan issue, it’s a cultural issue. We need every person who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle to understand that driving safely could mean saving their own lives and the lives of those around them.”

“There’s nothing more powerful than someone who stands up in the pulpit and lets people know the facts and brings it to them in a real way,” said UNC Pembroke Chancellor Dr. Robin Gary Cummings.

“This isn’t about politics or even preaching, this is about lives and saving them, and we plan to talk about this at our annual meeting to help spread this sense of urgency,” said Pastor Mike Cummings, Retired Director of the Burnt Swap Baptist Association, a family of churches affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program is asking the public to be mindful during this Labor Day holiday to travel as safely as possible by designating a sober driver, calling a cab, or finding public transit options.

GHSP funds efforts to reduce traffic crashes in North Carolina and promotes highway safety awareness through a variety of grants and safe-driving initiatives like Click It or Ticket, Booze It & Lose It, BikeSafe NC, Watch For Me NC and Speed a Little. Lose a Lot.