By Erica Thomas, managing editor
MONTGOMERY — Every summer Marine Police across the nation are forced to face horrific scenes including deadly boat crashes and other tragedies on the water. Oftentimes, they are forced to search for days or weeks for missing boaters, resulting in difficult hours in the hot sun and underwater. Alabama State Troopers respond to fatal crashes on roadways, knowing a family will soon be notified of the untimely death of a loved one. These incidents not only impact the loved ones of those killed, but images of death can stay with first responders for years and sometimes lifetimes.
This year, as in year’s past, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is pleading with boaters and drivers to be responsible for themselves and for others.
With Labor Day approaching, ALEA says they are aware that festivities will include alcohol. But they are urging people to avoid drinking and driving on land and on Alabama waterways.
There will be increased patrols on roadways and waterways from 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 until midnight on Monday, Sept. 7. Thanks to grants through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), these patrols will be working to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities, by looking for impaired drivers and vessel operators. They will be conducting sobriety and driver license checkpoints, speed and seatbelt enforcement details.
The effort is a part of the national initiatives “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
Your cooperation is essential, so we ask you to do your part to make this Labor Day weekend a safe one,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor.
ALEA provided the following safety tips:
• Do not drive or operate a boat (or other vessel) under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Select a designated driver in advance, call a cab or ride-share service or call a sober friend of family member to get you home safely.
• Expect traffic heavier than usual. Adjust travel plans to accommodate busier roadways and waterways and leave a bit earlier.
• Obey the law. Avoid speeding, following too closely and other dangerous behaviors on roadways and waterways.
• Buckle up. It’s simple. Use seat belts and child safety seats — no matter how short a trip.
• Stay off the water during inclement weather. Monitor local weather and avoid going out when the forecast predicts thunder and lightning.
• On waterways, use personal flotation devices (PFDs). They should always be available to all passengers, but the law requires children 8 and younger to wear them.
• Use caution when traveling through construction zones. For the safety of the traveling public, construction industry workers and maintenance crews, ALDOT will suspend temporary lane closures on interstates (and possibly other highways) from noon Friday, Sept. 4, to midnight Monday, Sept. 7.• Don’t forget your mask. Governor Kay Ivey has extended the current Safer at Home order and statewide mask ordinance until Friday, Oct. 2, to combat the spread of COVID-
19. Everyone is encouraged to use personal protective equipment and practice social distancing when out in public.“We want all Alabamians to enjoy the upcoming Labor Day holiday,” said Taylor. “All we ask is that you make smart choices and celebrate responsibly.”