RALEIGH — If litter on North Carolina highways makes you mad, doing something about it is now as easy as signing on to your computer. The N.C. Department of Transportation calls it "Swat-A-Litterbug," and now anyone can go on trash patrol.
Some people know firsthand that the amount of roadside trash is increasing. Raleigh keeps at least two full-time crews on the street every day.
"We find paper, little notes," says Tonya Stringfield, a road maintenance worker. "Stuff you're not supposed to find by the side of the road -- dead animals, political signs, basically everything."
Find a road and chances are you will find trash on it. But you do not have to wait for the clean-up crews. There is something you can do about it. The DOT, working with the Division of Motor Vehicles, depends on the public for the success of its "Swat-A-Litterbug" program.
For about a year, "Swat-A-Litterbug" has urged drivers to report roadside littering by sending in postcards. The number of driver-reported violations is expected to go way up -- because now it is possible to file violations on the Internet.
"If you get the license plate number, exact location and date, you can process that information on our Web site, and a letter will be issued to them from the colonel of DMV," says Heather Thompson of the DOT.
The letter is an eye-opener. It warns that had an officer seen the littering, you would have been fined $500.
The DOT is not sure yet what the citizen-trashbuster Web site will cost. They do say it will be far less than the $5 million spent last year picking up roadside trash.
To get a "Swat-A-Litterbug" postcard, contact your nearest DOT office.