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If you’re one of the thousands who will be taking to the roads this Memorial Day weekend, here are some tips for safety and economy from the N.C. Department of Transportation. I’ve thrown in some comments along the way in italics:

As the summer travel season begins, the N.C. Department of Transportation is taking steps to help motorists save both time and money by suspending most road construction activities on major routes across the state. This is particularly good news! Work zones are not only the source of traffic delays, but pose particular risks to both travelers and workers. By avoiding traffic delays, motorists can reach their destinations more quickly while also cutting down on fuel consumption and costs.

Most construction projects along Interstates, N.C. and U.S. routes will be suspended beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 27, until 9 a.m., Tuesday, May 31, with two exceptions:

  • U.S. 17 in Windsor (Bertie County) is reduced to one lane on the Cashie River Bridge due to construction. Traffic is controlled by signals; however, commercial trucks are restricted on this route and detour signs are in place. All motorists are encouraged to use the U.S. 17 Bypass around Windsor to avoid possible delays;
  • The Buddy Phillips Bridge in Jacksonville (Onslow County) is reduced to one lane in each direction on U.S. 17 Business for bridge construction.

Here are some additional tips (obvious, but important) to stay safe on the highways:

• Buckle Up;

• Don’t drink and drive;

• Stay alert;

• Obey the speed limit;

• Minimize distractions.

To help reduce fuel consumption (and this is particularly useful with gas prices in the stratosphere):

  • Don’t rush. "Jack-rabbit" starts and hard braking alone can increase fuel consumption by 40 percent, but reduce travel time by only four percent.
  • Observe the speed limit. Not exceeding 60 miles per hour (where legally allowed) can improve mileage by 7-23 percent.
  • Use cruise control. Using cruise control on 10,000 miles driven in a year could save you nearly $200 and save more than 60 gallons of fuel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (its more than $200 at today’s prices!)
  • Remove unnecessary items. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce your miles per gallon by up to two percent. Wind resistance can also reduce mileage so avoid using luggage racks, rooftop carriers and ski racks when they are not needed.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Keeping your tires properly inflated, changing your oil and replacing air filters can all help improve fuel economy.

Visit “Drive Green, Save Green,” to learn more tips.

For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit the NCDOT website or follow NCDOT on Twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “” into the browser of your smartphone. I follow NCDOT on Twitter and it has saved me from traffic tie-ups on many occasions. There’s one service that’s well worth my tax money!

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