NASHVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The work is starting early for Nash County deputies.

“Well, you can look at the traffic out here now and it’s already increasing,” Sheriff Keith Stone said as he glanced over his shoulder.

Thursday evening, CBS 17 was out with Stone and his deputies along U.S. 64 in Nashville.

Going into the Memorial Day weekend, there’s no hesitation hit the flashing lights as they work to keep the roads safe.

Stone said it’s for good reason.

“We’ve had 510 people killed on our highways. That’s rural highways. That’s not talking about in the cities,” he said. “The number one reason that these people are dying is unbuckled occupants. Put that seatbelt on. It’s just a snap.”

The 2023 North Carolina Highway Safety Plan report shows Nash County ranked 13th for deadly crashes between 2016-20.

Wake County ranked second, with Cumberland County coming in fourth.

The report also shows 103 people killed in crashes in Wake County were not wearing seatbelts.  The grim total falls only behind Mecklenburg County.

Stone said deputies will also be on the lookout for drunk drivers. He said his safety message never gets old.

“I hope somebody gets the message. The last thing you want is a deputy or a state trooper to walk into that door, notify you that you have a fatality in your family,” he said.

This effort is in collaboration with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program’s campaign, Click it or Ticket.