From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — This holiday season, travel experts are predicting pre-pandemic numbers as millions of Americans prepare to reunite with their loved ones.
In accordance with national travel forecasts, Troopers within the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Highway Patrol Division are expecting to see a significant increase in the volume of traffic on Alabama’s roadways and will be working diligently to ensure everyone is able to gather around the table with friends and family this year.
“During the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday travel period, ALEA Troopers recorded nearly a 30 percent decrease in statewide traffic fatalities, which resulted in three fewer traffic-related deaths in 2020 as compared to 2019,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said. “Our Agency’s mission is to save lives; therefore, our goal this Thanksgiving holiday travel period is to ensure that trend continues. Our Highway Patrol Division has developed a very specific and deliberate holiday enforcement plan that targets those areas in which, historically, we have documented an elevated number of crashes. This initiative includes proactive patrols utilizing a variety of enforcement techniques along our major thoroughfares, specifically Interstates 10, 65, and 85.”
Recently, ALEA partnered with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) in their new campaign, “Not a Game,” to promote work zone safety and inform drivers of recent changes to the state’s construction zone law. Fines for any moving traffic violation committed in a construction zone where workers are present will now result in a $250 fine or double the regular fine, whichever amount is greater. In addition, double fines will now be given for dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving, and distracted driving.
“It is our duty to not only enforce state laws but also educate and inform citizens so that everyone is fully aware of any changes and can make wise decisions while traveling,” Taylor said. “These laws are in place to protect everyone, including the motoring public, construction zone workers, pedestrians, and emergency first responders.”
ALEA Troopers will be patrolling roadways, enforcing the law, and assisting motorists. Additional shifts to prevent traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities are made possible with grant funding from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) and ALDOT.
“We are especially thankful this holiday for our Troopers and other law enforcement partners who will be sacrificing part of their holiday and time with loved ones to patrol Alabama roads and keep all of our citizens and visitors safe,” Taylor said. “On behalf of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, I would like to wish everyone a happy, safe, and peaceful holiday season.”
Additionally, ALEA offers the following safety tips and reminders for citizens this Thanksgiving holiday:
- On multi-lane roadways, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, but Alabama law also requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to only use the left lane for passing (when posted). Motorists can drive for a mile and half in the left lane before needing to move back over.
- Alabama’s seat belt/child restraint law requires ALL passengers – no matter how old or which seat they are occupying – to be buckled up.
- Do not drink and drive. Make alternate travel plans if you are consuming alcohol. Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from consuming alcohol, and it is illegal for anyone to have an open bottle of alcohol in a vehicle.
- Avoid driving distracted. Distractions include texting, utilizing a cell phone or smartphone, talking to passengers, watching videos, playing mobile games, adjusting the radio, navigation system, or other devices. Distractions endanger drivers, passengers, and bystander safety. Alabama law prohibits texting while driving as well as searching the Internet on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
- Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
- Don’t drive fatigued – allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions/closings in Alabama, visit www.alea.gov/weather-advisories.
- Stay alert when shopping and driving through crowded parking lots. Stay vigilant and park in well-lighted areas when shopping at night. Citizens should lock their vehicles and remove any valuables, including money or wallets, from plain sight. Slow down in congested parking lots and stay alert for shoppers and pedestrians.
- Move over when approaching emergency or tow vehicles. Alabama’s Move Over Law requires motorists to move over or slow down to 15 mph or less than the posted speed limit if you are not able to change lanes.