Cops step up watch

Published 9:20 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
Motorists can expect extra patrols and checkpoints during the Christmas holidays as law enforcement officers work to ensure the safety of holiday travelers.
Brewton Police Department Captain Randy Nicholson, said the department is planning a busy holiday season. Extra patrols of local officers will be joining other officers across the state to be on the lookout for dangerous drivers.
Even though the checkpoints will be random, drivers need to be ready anytime they get behind the wheel of a car, Nicholson said.
Local law enforcment officers won't be the only patrolmen on the streets and highways across the state.
Alabama Public Safety Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy said troopers will focus on curtailing impaired driving during the holidays.
He urged motorists to strictly obey all traffic laws and avoid impaired driving at all costs.
Following recent reports of a 10 percent decline in traffic deaths nationwide in 2008, Murphy said that there was an even sharper decline of 18 percent in Alabama.
He reminds motorists that the use of seat belts and child restraints is often the best defense in the event of an alcohol-related crash.
The troopers' checkpoint campaign coincides with another pre-holiday safety campaign designed to remind motorists to refrain from drinking and driving, buckle up and obey all traffic laws:
National Holiday Lifesaver Weekend.
Alabama Department of Public Safety officials have designated the 102-hour Christmas travel period for 2008.
The period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24, and ends at midnight Sunday, Dec. 28.
In 2007, 15 people died in traffic crashes on Alabama highways during the 102-hour Christmas period.
Alcohol was a factor in at least seven of the deaths, and all but one of the vehicle occupants killed were not using seat belts.
The 102-hour New Year's travel period extends from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 31, through midnight Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Last year, 11 people died in traffic crashes in Alabama during the 102-hour New Year's travel period. At least four of the deaths involved alcohol, and six of the crash victims were not using seat belts.