Troopers out in full force this holiday
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
Alabama State Troopers will be out in full force this holiday season, stepping up patrols and staying on the lookout for drunk drivers.
Public Safety Director Col. W.M. Coppage said special enforcement details such as checkpoints and line patrols will be in place during the holidays.
Coppage said troopers will especially target drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs during the holidays.
"Public Safety's goal during the holidays and throughout the year is to prevent needless deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving, speeding and other dangerous driving behavior," Coppage said. "Troopers will make every effort to ensure safe holiday travel, and they ask motorists also to keep their focus on safety during the holidays." He also encouraged motorists to make sure their vehicles are in good working order before holiday travel, and said troopers would be available to assist motorists.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety estimates that 15 people may lose their lives in traffic crashes in the state during the 78-hour Christmas travel period, which begins on Dec. 23 at 6 p.m. and ends on Dec. 26 midnight.
In 2004, six people died in traffic crashes on Alabama roadways during the 78-hour Christmas period, all on rural roadways. Alcohol was a factor in at least two of the deaths, and two of the wreck victims were not using safety belts.
The traffic fatality prediction for New Year's is that 16 people may die in traffic crashes in Alabama during the 78-hour period from Dec. 30 at 6 p.m. through Jan. 2 at midnight.
Last year, 22 people died during the 78-hour New Year's travel period, 18 on rural roads and four in urban areas. At least 10 of the deaths involved alcohol, and eight of the crash victims were not using safety belts.
The heavy traffic volume won't deter most from hitting the highways, however. Alabamians will travel in potentially record numbers this Christmas-New Year's holiday, according to AAA. Across the country, AAA estimates that 63.50 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 1.7 percent increase from last year's 62.42 million travelers.
"The Christmas holiday season is always a busy time for travel, and this year we'll probably set all-time records for Alabama and the rest of the nation," said AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram. "The increase in the number of travelers makes it much more important to keep traffic safety a top priority."
Holiday auto travelers will find Alabama gas prices currently averaging $2.13 for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline-down 83 cents from the records set on Oct. 3, but still 33 cents higher than a year ago.