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NCDOT sees spike in litter reporting

Posted February 4, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The North Carolina Department of Transportation saw a 23 percent spike in the number of roadside littering incidents reported through its Swat-A-Litterbug program last year.

More than 9,600 littering reports were made in 2008, up from 7,800 reports in 2007.

"We pick up more than 10 million pounds of litter each year,” said George Kapetanakis, with the DOT's Office of Beautification Programs.

Kapetanakis says littering costs the state $16 million a year.

"We could be putting those dollars and those resources somewhere else” if people didn't throw trash along roadsides, Kapetanakis said.

Swat-A-Litterbug program sees 23 percent increase Swat-A-Litterbug program sees 23 percent increase

Through the Swat-A-Litterbug program, people seen littering are sent a letter signed by the colonel of the State Highway Patrol. It informs the person that someone observed them littering and reminds them that littering is illegal.

Fines for littering range from $250 to $2,000 and can double on subsequent convictions.

“The Swat-A-Litterbug program plays an important role in keeping motorists accountable for their actions,” said Transportation Secretary Gene Conti. “It also gives people a simple and easy way to aid in the state’s litter-prevention efforts.”

Anyone who observes littering can make a report through the mail, over the phone or online through the Office of Beautification Programs’ Swat-A-Litterbug Web site.

"I do see some of that (littering) sometimes,” motorist Robert Mera said. "I think it is a little gross and immature. We should know better at this point."

Information required to make a report includes the vehicle's license plate number, date and time of the incident, street name, city (if applicable), county and kind of littering observed.

To call in a Swat-A-Litterbug report, dial 1-877-DOT-4YOU.


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  • daycock Feb 5, 2009

    Well...we all litter. Even if its thrown in a trash can, it'll eventually end up in the earth.

    Where I live at, I get alot of newspapers and lottery scratch tickets in my yard that come from the gas station near by. Atleast with the lottery scratch tickets, I get paid for picking up the trash. (Most of the time their are a few winners and are overlooked by people when they toss them thinking they lost.)

  • Z Man Feb 5, 2009

    Problem is the same as with most laws... no-one to enforce it. When the 'dump truck cover your load' law was re-emphasized, I followed a trooper down I40 and we passed an uncovered dump truck spewing trash. Trooper went right on bye. No one is going to enfore these laws so the threat of fines is tootless. Might as well make 'em $1Million fines. No one pays them.

  • jockeyshiftspringer Feb 5, 2009

    The trash that I find amusing (not really) is a whole couch or a mattress. Now pray tell me what does one say when they get to point B. Hey, some one stole my couch. Hey someone stole my mattress.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Feb 5, 2009

    Litter bugs on site. lol

  • Dr. Dataclerk Feb 5, 2009

    No, I don't believe that. No one would pull into the middle of the road and set a bag of trash down between two lanes of traffic.

    It did happen. It was on a country road. Ha ha

  • PC is for Losers Feb 5, 2009

    You got it right "Litters tend not to care about other people or their surroundings"

    These aren't the people reading this article. Poeple who litter are sometimes absent minded, but usually just not aware of cause and effect. Nobody told them it wasn't cool way back when, or they didn't listen. Maybe they think they're being cool throwing that Hardees bag out the window?

  • scientistjo Feb 5, 2009

    "I saw a lady stop in the middle of the road and set a bag of trash down. Can you even believe that." -dataclerk

    No, I don't believe that. No one would pull into the middle of the road and set a bag of trash down between two lanes of traffic.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 5, 2009

    So...Why CAN'T litterbugs be sentenced to 80 hours of cleaning up trash? Isn't that the PERFECT sentence?...since it punishes AND helps solve the trash problem?

    How many re-offenders would there be with this kind of non-monetary and humiliating punishment? LOL Even Dr. Dataclerk might start using his ashtray. ;-)

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 5, 2009

    NCcarguy, if you haven't already, check out the website & the letter they send. While you're right that the letter can't make the person go back and pick up their trash, the point is to make them aware "you're littering", "it's illegal" & "you could be fined big."

    It's a written handslap meant to make the alleged litterbug THINK about his actions. And at $16 million in annual cleanup costs, a stamped envelope is a good investment in behavior modification. I think it's a great idea to pay envelope stuffers to help busy police officers...do you have a better idea to reduce litter on a shoestring budget by overworked police?

  • SilverWolf Feb 5, 2009

    Don't know what most counties do but down here in Moore the litter gets picked up by the convicts costing DOT nothing. Perhaps DOT is crying wolf once again trying to justify the cash they have lost over the years. Smokers are a problem for sure. Can't tell you the number of times I've been on my motorcycle and had some idiot throw a lit cig out the window right at me. It is irritating to say the least. However, the problem with trash on the roads can also be traced to people losing jobs who can no longer afford to pay the trash man to come collect. Again, all counties are slightly different. Here in my part of Moore County we contract our trash pick up out to BFI or one of the other collectors. The bottom line is this, if you litter it is a direct reflection on your character. Litters tend not to care about other people or their surroundings.