Extended weekend results in four traffic fatalities
Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Independence Day weekend spanned four days this year, and many travelers took advantage of the Tuesday holiday for extended trips and celebrations. But, in spite of the longer holiday, Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Highway patrol investigated half as many traffic deaths than they did in 2022.
The agency’s Highway Patrol Division investigated four traffic fatalities this year in Perry, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, and Houston counties and its Marine Patrol Division reported no boating deaths (drownings) over the long weekend. Three of the motorists killed in traffic crashes were not wearing seat belts. The fourth was operating an all-terrain vehicle.
According to ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor, the agency conducted numerous high-visibility details over the holiday to promote safety across the state.
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“Our Troopers did outstanding work this holiday period, conducting numerous high-visibility details and safety initiatives,” Taylor said. “We will continue to promote public safety throughout the state on both Alabama’s roadways and waterways in order to reduce crashes and save lives. Even though four fewer lives were lost this Fourth of July travel period compared to last year, our goal is always zero. We must remember that we all can do our part to help make the roadways and waterways safe for everyone.”
Marine Patrol Troopers investigated six boating crashes which resulted in four injuries on Fish River, Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Wedowee, Smith Lake, Wilson Lake, and Wheeler Lake. The crashes were two fewer than those which occurred over the 2022 Fourth of July weekend.
Colonel Jon Archer, Director of the agency’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) said the two divisions partnered with local, state, and federal agencies to promote safety during the holiday.
“Marine Patrol joined the U.S. Coast Guard, Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and other agencies for Operation Dry Water, a national year-round boating under the influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign.” Archer said. “They conducted safety checkpoints, saturation law enforcement patrols, vessel inspections and increased night patrols looking for violations that may indicate the presence of an impaired operator.”
Archer noted that Alabama’s boating season has just begun, cautioning boaters to be aware of the dangers of the water, including what is known as ‘boater’s fatigue,’ a scenario caused by a combination of the sun, wind, noise, vibration, and the movement of the boat.
“Not only can it impair judgment and risk the safety of your passengers and other boaters, but consuming alcohol intensifies the effect,” Archer said.
The agency’s Highway Patrol partnered with local, state, and federal first responders too for the national safety initiative, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, working to combat driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.
Troopers across Alabama conducted enforcement activities, including driver license and equipment checkpoints and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) details aimed at cutting back on DUIs, distracted driving, and other deadly driving behaviors.
Pilots with ALEA’s Aviation Unit partnered with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to perform beach patrols and assist with swimmer rescues. The pilots responded to assist two swimmers and performed approximately 12 beach safety flights.
To view ALEA’s safety tips online, visit www.alea.gov/.