Hundreds of troopers participate in I-40 Thanksgiving Challenge

It's a time to give thanks and celebrate with loved ones, but Thanksgiving is also one of the deadliest holiday weekends on North Carolina highways every year.

Last year, 20 people were killed in crashes on North Carolina roads from the Wednesday to Sunday around Thanksgiving.

Sirens will be a familiar sound for drivers breaking the law on I-40 over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Trooper Mitch Mann is one of hundreds of North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers who will be stationed every 20 miles on the interstate this week as part of the I-40 Thanksgiving Challenge. The challenge -- keeping fatalities to zero by stopping bad driving habits before they even begin.

“Speeders. Distracted drivers. Impaired drivers. Any careless or reckless driving," Mann said. "The more people you put on the road, the more of that stuff you’re going to see."

In just an hour Wednesday, Mann clocked two speeders. One was driving 22 mph over the speed limit.

More than 1.3 million North Carolinians will hit the road for Thanksgiving this week and troopers want a law enforcement presence to match that.

“You’re going to reduce people breaking the law. You’re going to curb bad driving habits, which in result, lowers our fatality rate," Mann said.

Mann says when people know there will be more officers on the road, they're more likely to drive safely.

“No one is passing us. So our mere presence here is maintaining the vehicle speed around us, and everyone’s driving under control," he said. “Not having any careless driving, not breaking any laws. So we’re not out here just to load up on tickets this week. We’re out here to have a mere presence and try to keep everyone within the limits of the law.”

It could also make your drive time faster. Troopers say with more manpower on the roads, they can clear minor crashes quicker.

“We can get disabled motorists of the side of the road, which is a lot safer for the public," Mann said.

Their goal this week is to get drivers to break a dangerous habit before it turns into a deadly crash.

“I’d just rather be standing there handing you at ticket and explaining the fine to you than knocking on your door or your family’s door that you’d been seriously injured or killed in a collision," Mann said.

The I-40 Thanksgiving Challenge runs during the busiest travel times, on Wednesday until 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.