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Frank Perry: Litter-free N.C. — A cleaner state is a safer state

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Frank Perry

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By Frank Perry
N.C. Department of Public Safety

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

If this headline has pulled you in, you are probably as unhappy as I am about the litter along our highways, in our lakes and rivers and around our neighborhoods. There is a safety message, too, that is often overlooked.

Furniture, appliances, boxes, pallets, lumber and other large items that are not properly secured in the back of trucks or in trailers can fall onto the road and create a sudden obstruction for motorists. —

Drivers have to react quickly and they may swerve into another car or slam on the brakes and cause a crash from behind.

Others may veer toward the shoulder or the median and hit the guard rail, go into a culvert or hit a tree.

N.C. Highway Patrol troopers have seen people injured, and even some fatalities, as a result of roadway obstructions.

Litter can also clog storm drains and cause flooding – especially important to note during hurricane season. Littered communities attract crime and lower home values. These are compelling reasons to become more aware of the consequences of a littered state.

The N.C. Department of Public Safety’s statewide anti-litter campaign, Litter Free NC, aims to prevent litter from ever happening. Changing habits and creating an awareness of the consequences of trashing our state is the reason Gov. Pat McCrory and I started the Litter Free NC campaign.

To start, we are asking all truck drivers to please take the time to be sure their load is tied down properly and use a tarp to keep any debris from escaping.

N.C. Highway Patrol troopers will issue a citation whether the littering is intentional or unintentional.

A person can be fined up to $1,000 for the first littering offense and up to $2,000 for the second offense. The driver can also receive a penalty of one point on his/her driver’s license.

Roadside litter costs taxpayers $15 million a year for the N.C. Department of Transportation to remove. Using inmate work crews and private contractors, DOT last year removed a whopping 7.5 million pounds of litter from North Carolina roadsides.

The Litter Free NC message needs to reach the people who blatantly toss out beverage bottles, cups and cans from their car windows, or allow trash to blow out of the bed of their pickup trucks. Industrial-size trucks, too, are big contributors to roadside trash.

Here are a few other ways that may help:

The Department of Public Safety is offering Litter Free NC artwork to cities to use in their communities.

We are reaching out to businesses who want to partner with us to make the motoring public more aware of the dangers of littering.

Teachers can spread the Litter Free NC message – that a cleaner state is a safer state – and remind children to recycle. Children can take that message to parents and remind them to throw away trash properly.

Teachers can download an infographic for their students on how long it takes for debris such as glass, plastic, cans or cardboard to decompose.

Motorists can secure loose papers or wrappers before they open any car windows.

Truck drivers can double-check the secureness of what they are transporting,

Fast food establishments can print the Litter Free NC message on their take-out bags and beverage bottles.

The public can use the Department of Transportation’s online Swat-a-Litter-Bug to report litterbugs, even those who toss cigarette butts out the window. (Cigarette butts take 12 years to decompose).

The public can call *HP (*47) if they see hazardous objects that have fallen from the bed of a truck or trailer or from a roof rack and onto a road.

Together, let’s prevent waste and litter from cluttering our roads, communities and our environment. Please join us in spreading the word about Litter Free NC, because a clean state is a safer state.

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