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DOT suspending construction over holiday travel period

RALEIGH — With a busy Christmas and New Year’s holiday travel week predicted, the N.C. Department of Transportation is suspending most road and lane closures on interstates and U.S. and N.C. routes across the state from Friday through Jan. 2.

There will be some exceptions for which construction conditions make it unsafe to open all lanes, such as where a bridge is being replaced or lanes are being constructed or rebuilt. Drivers should be alert for lane closure signs.

To help make trips safer and cut back on distracted driving, DOT and Geico insurance are teaming up to provide “Safe Phone Zones” throughout the holiday and into 2019. While Geico sponsors the initiative, DOT has designed all 58 rest areas across the state as Safe Phone Zones..

The facilities are located along major highways, so accessing them is easy to allow drivers to get out of traffic and safely use their smartphones and tablets to access information or send text messages.

Texting while driving is illegal in North Carolina and 46 other states.

Even a glance at a cellphone while driving is considered distracted driving and could easily lead to a tragic crash, DOT says.

Travelers can also make their trip better by checking on the status of their route in advance by going to DriveNC.gov to see if it will be clear. Once underway, a stop at a Safe Phone Zone location provides a chance to check the route again.

DriveNC.gov provides road condition updates by route, county or region, updated 24 hours a day with changes including vehicle crashes or bad weather. Another option to get daytime updates by calling 511, where operators provide travel assistance.

Here are some additional tips for safe driving during the holiday season:

• Leave early to get a head start, and travel at nonpeak hours if possible, as the weekends before Christmas and New Year’s Day will have the heaviest traffic congestion for most of the state, especially on interstates such as I-95, I-77, I-85, I-40 and I-26.

• Use alternative routes to avoid traffic congestion.

• Allow extra time for your trip, regardless of the route you choose.

• To avoid drowsy driving, travel at times you are normally awake and take frequent breaks, taking advantage of the state’s rest areas.

• Pay attention to your surroundings and other vehicles nearby and avoid distracted driving.

• By law, all drivers and passengers must wear seat belts.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

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