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Originally published: 2013-06-14 12:31:09
Last modified: 2013-06-14 12:31:53

Our View: Safe travels

Nearly 11,000 drivers and passengers statewide, including 287 in Watauga County, were cited for safety and criminal violations during the N.C. Department of Transportations' Memorial Day Click It or Ticket campaign -- an indication that not only are summer drivers out in full force, but also that safety may not be a priority as we take to the roadways.

That's a concern everywhere in the state, but during the summer, it's an especial concern in the High Country. Not only must Watauga County drivers pay special attention to children who may be outside playing while  school is out for the summer, but also to tourists who may be unused to our mountain roads.

But a further, and potentially greater, concern is the small passengers who accompany drivers on summer trips and visits. Children and animals must never be left in a parked vehicles, not even for a few minutes, and not even with the windows partially rolled down. 

Sadly, rarely a summer season goes past without a national report of a child being harmed from heat exhaustion while left in a car.

And every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion when they are left in vehicles during the summer. This is true even in the mountains, where our climate is typically cooler than surrounding environments. 

Indeed, in 10 minutes with an outside temperature of 70 degrees, a vehicle's interior air temperature jumps to 89 degrees. Leave a pet unattended for 30 minutes and the temperature will spike to 104 degrees. On an 80-degree day, that inside temperature reaches 114 degrees during the same time frame.

Summer driving is something to which most of us look forward each year. Safety first will make the ride all the more enjoyable.