State troopers on heavy patrol this holiday

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

State troopers are on the lookout for traffic violations over the holiday weekend.

Expecting heavier-than-usual traffic this Fourth of July holiday travel period, Alabama state troopers will bolster enforcement efforts to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities on the state’s roadways.

The holiday travel period officially begins at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, July 4, and runs through midnight Sunday, July 7, but troopers began holiday enforcement activities at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, July 3. Troopers and their law enforcement partners from across the state will enforce all traffic laws, assist motorists and serve as visible reminders to drive safely. Enforcement plans include driver license and sobriety checkpoints, saturation and line patrols, and the operation of laser speed detection devices from stationary vantage points.

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Col. Hugh B. McCall, Public Safety’s director and the state’s highest-ranking trooper, said troopers will concentrate on behaviors that frequently cause crashes: speeding, making unsafe lane changes, following too closely and failing to yield right of way. They also will focus on drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs. “So far this year, troopers have investigated 250 traffic fatalities,” McCall said. “That number is down from this time last year — and troopers are working to keep it down with heightened trooper presence.”

Increased patrols during this holiday travel period are made possible through grants administered through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Alabama Department of Transportation. ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris said his department is pleased to provide funding for additional trooper shifts and to work closely with Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies to help keep Alabama’s roadways safe.

“ALDOT is restricting lane closures and interstate construction during the busy Fourth of July travel period to make highways safer and less congested. We can do a lot from an engineering and enforcement standpoint to impact safety, but safe driving starts with every driver,” Harris said. “And seat belt use is the biggest thing we can do to save lives when crashes occur.”

McCall agreed and said everyone should buckle up no matter how short a trip. In addition, motorists should avoid such distractions as texting and talking on cell phones while driving. “Let’s work together, Alabama,” he said. “Let’s make a positive difference on our roadways and save lives.”