‘Blue and white taxi service’ no fun on New Year’s Eve

Dec. 29, 2012 @ 05:58 PM

Ringing in the new year for Henderson and Vance County will be mostly a private affair, save for those traveling outside the respective boundaries.

But in traveling, law enforcement has issued safety warnings.

“The Henderson Police Department will be fully staffed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s,” said Keith Sidwell, chief of police. “Patrols will be pro-active regarding DWI enforcement, as well as non-uniform personnel in assistance.”

Sidwell said checkpoints are one method of keeping the roads safe. He also advised all drivers to be cognizant of others, and the possibility of encountering an impaired driver.

“If celebrating the new year out with friends, make sure you have a designated driver,” Sidwell said. “The ‘blue and white taxi service’ is not that fun. The good news is the drivers of our taxis do not accept tips!”

The N.C. Highway Patrol reported two fatalities in North Carolina on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A year ago, 10 died between Christmas and New Year’s.

In a prepared statement, Col. Michael Gilchrist said, “Our troopers will be very vigilant in locating and removing impaired drivers off North Carolina highways as we approach the New Year holiday. Our ultimate goal is provide a safe driving environment for all motorists.”

Alcohol-related crashes this year number more than 5,500, up from 5,310 a year ago. Troopers have made 23,000 arrests for driving while impaired in 2012.

The state police encourage drivers to be responsible; groups to designate a sober driver; utilization of taxi services, friends and family for transportation; and spending the night rather than traveling if it is an option.

If wanting to report erratic or possibly impaired drivers, the state police can be reached on cellphones by dialing *HP, or *47. Description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and if possible a license plate number will be the questions from the dispatchers.

“Please don’t drink and drive,” 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon said in a statement from the public information office of the state police. “The choice you make can be the difference between life and death.”

Contact the writer at awooten@hendersondispatch.com.