Taking back roads

Published 5:01 am Monday, August 6, 2007

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
The Alabama Department of Public Safety has announced a new state trooper initiative to fight Alabama's increasing traffic fatalities.
The Alabama District Attorneys Association and Executive Director Randy Hillman have partnered with the DPS in the program.
The increase in Alabama traffic deaths, which are at their highest levels since 1973, has prompted the initiative, said DPS Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy. In 1973 there were 1,235 deaths on Alabama highways and 1,208 deaths in 2006. In 1974 there was a drop in fatalities, followed by years of increasing deaths.
Every available state trooper will be in uniform and on patrol during the upcoming program, including the addition of approximately 200 troopers who are normally assigned to duties other than patrol.
There will be some exceptions, including critical ABI investigations, court appearances and protective details. Murphy also said leaves of absence will be restricted during the period.
According to Alabama State Trooper Cpl. Joe Piggott, the nation's traffic deaths rose 2 percent in 2006, while Alabama traffic deaths rose more than 5 percent. As of Aug. 1, there have been a total of 464 fatalities as compared to 477 at this time last year.
Troopers will target primary violations that cause crashes and contribute to more severe crashes, Murphy said. These include speeding, failure to yield the right of way, following too closely, driver inattention and DUI.
Throughout the state, troopers will target crash-prone areas and implement line patrols, saturation patrols, driver license checkpoints, and LIDAR details. Murphy said the public can expect to see a marked increase in the number of troopers on the road and a marked increase in the number of citations issued.
Murphy said Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Legislature's support have allowed the Department of Public Safety to hire additional troopers to supplement the state's ranks.

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