From staff reports
MONTGOMERY — During its latest holiday enforcement period, which ran from 12:01 a.m. Dec. 18 to midnight Jan. 1, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) investigated 25 traffic deaths across the state.
The deadly crashes from this 15-day safety initiative occurred in Butler, Chambers, Chilton, Cleburne, Cullman, Elmore, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, Limestone, Mobile, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Talladega and Tuscaloosa counties. That total consists of 15 drivers, four passengers, five pedestrians and one motorcyclist. Nineteen of the individuals were in vehicles equipped with seat belts, but only four of them were restrained.
“One fatal crash is bad, but to have 20 fatal crashes resulting in 25 deaths is disturbing, particularly when seat belts were available to 19 of the individuals killed, but only four of them were buckled up,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said.
Col. John E. Richardson of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety agreed and said the motoring public must do better to ensure everyone in vehicles is using seat belts or child restraints. “It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling hundreds of miles or just running down to the corner gas station. Seat belts save lives,” he said.
A year ago, Alabama State Troopers investigated 19 traffic fatalities during the 15-day holiday safety initiative, from 12:01 a.m. Dec. 19, 2014, to midnight Jan. 2, 2015. Vehicles were equipped with seat belts for 16 of the 19 individuals killed, but only four were using them.
Collier said with fewer Troopers patrolling Alabama roadways due to budget shortfalls, Troopers are spending the majority of their time being reactive rather than proactive — and ALEA is relying heavily on the motoring public to take the initiative to buckle up and obey traffic laws.
“As the new year progresses,” Collier added, “Troopers encourage everyone to make highway safety a priority — particularly when temperatures dip below freezing and ice may be present on roadways.”