Litter can endanger drivers, is an eyesore, costs millions of dollars to clean up, and is against the law.
The fine for littering is up to $1,000 for the first offense,$2,000 for the second offense, and, upon a finding of guilt, the driver can receive a penalty of one point on his/her driver’s license.
At a March press conference, Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry kicked off the Litter Free NC campaign, and asked, “How many times have you swerved to avoid inanimate objects in the road such as broken car parts and shredded tires, or seen trash and debris flying out of an unsecured truck bed? At least one accident a day is caused by litter in the road.
“Please join us in spreading the word about Litter Free NC, because a clean state is a safer state.”
Fst. Sgt. Jeff Gordon and Trooper Michael Baker have been on radio talk shows across the state telling listeners about the Litter Free NC campaign and reminding them to secure trash in their cars and truck beds, and to dispose of litter properly.
“People may think litter is a victimless crime, but it impacts people’s safety, security and well-being, as well as their pocketbook,” Gordon said. “Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year to pick up and remove roadside litter.”
In 2012, the State of North Carolina spent more than $16 million cleaning up roadside trash that filled more than 325,000 garbage bags, equaling seven million pounds.
In neighborhoods, unsightly litter reduces property values and attracts vandalism and other crimes. People feel safer in a clean neighborhood.
“Clean streets and a well-kept neighborhood indicate people care about where they live and work,” Perry said, “and that they do not tolerate disobedience and mischief, crooks and criminals.”
Cigarette smokers may think a small butt tossed from a car window is harmless, but they sometimes cause wildfires and the toxins in the butt can seep into rivers and streams and damage our water supply. Cigarette butts contain cadmium, lead and arsenic, toxic to animals that may eat them.
Animals attracted to roadsides by the smell of apple cores or other tossed food bits may be hit and killed by passing motorists. Plastic bags also pose a danger to birds and animals, clog gutters and pollute waterways. Plastic water bottles take hundreds to thousands of years to completely biodegrade.
“North Carolina has one of the most beautiful, diverse landscapes in the nation,” Governor Pat McCrory said. “From the mountains to the coast, we take pride in the health and beauty of our state. Litter Free NC is not only going to help us preserve North Carolina’s natural beauty, but also prevent hazards that pose a risk to travelers, wildlife and their habitats.”
“Our goal is to grow the campaign over time and build momentum as we hope others will join us on this important initiative,” Perry said. “The more public participation is generated, the better chance we have of reducing the amount of litter in North Carolina.”