ALEA wants you to have a safe, fun Memorial Day
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyle Hamrick
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will kick-off “101 Days of Safety” beginning this Friday, May 27 and ending on Labor Day, Sept. 5.
According to a statement released Monday, the summer-long program will promote public safety across ALEA’s partnerships with first responders across the state.
“As the state law enforcement agency, we have developed a variety of initiatives to ensure that Alabama’s highways, waterways and beaches are safe for all,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor.
This Memorial Day weekend, ALEA will lend its Aviation Unit to fire departments in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to patrol the shorelines for swimmers needing help, and where lifeguards are not available.
Troopers with ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division will comb the state’s waterways, conducting inspections to make sure every vessel can protect those on board with personal flotation devices (PFD).
Colonel Jimmy Helms, Director of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety, predicted state highways will experience “historic volumes” of traffic as people travel toward Memorial Day fun.
“We also remind everyone how important it is to be vigilant when driving on roadways in heavier-than-normal traffic, especially when commercial vehicles are present,” Helms explained.
“You must be a defensive driver because the slightest amount of inattention can have tragic consequences.”
AAA anticipated more than 34 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, traveling more than 50 miles away from home on trips and vacations, in a report released last week.
ALEA offered the following safety tips to remember for those traveling this Memorial Day weekend:
Highway Safety Reminders
• Remain attentive around large vehicles and semi-trucks. Large vehicles such as semitrucks command a heavy presence on interstates. They have limited maneuverability, longer stopping distances and bigger blind spots.
• Expect traffic heavier than usual. Adjust travel plans to accommodate busier roadways and waterways and leave a bit earlier. Avoid speeding, following vehicles too closely and other dangerous behaviors on roadways.
• Prepare your vehicle. Get your vehicle’s tires, brakes, exterior lights, battery, air filters, wipers and fluid levels checked before you a leave for a trip. Keep an emergency kit available. (Inflated spire tire, first aid kit, jumper cables, phone charger, etc.)
• Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you plan on consuming alcohol pre-plan for a designated driver, call Uber or a cab. Designate a sober driver in advance to get you home safely
• Buckle up – no matter how short your trip. Ensure all the vehicle’s occupants are buckled up and children are utilizing a child restraint system. Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashed are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13.
• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. “Following too close” is one of the leading contributing factors behind crashes. Maintaining situational awareness and operating under a defensive driving posture is critical in avoiding crashes especially during high traffic periods.
Boating Safety Reminders
• Holidays are not the time for novice boaters to learn to operate their crafts. Operator inexperience is one of the leading contributing factors to boating crashes in Alabama. New operators should consider attending an in-person boating-safety class prior to going to the water.
• Children younger than age 8 are required to always wear PFDs (unless inside a permanently affixed cabin enclosure). They also should wear PFDs that are the appropriate size.
• Be mindful of other boaters. Avoid passing too closely to boats in motion, boats at idle and persons in the water.
• Boaters should avoid the use of alcoholic beverages or use the designated operator system. The sun, wind and other weather conditions already produce an effect on boaters known as “boater fatigue,” and the consumption of alcohol only compounds and intensifies the effect.
• Avoid boating at night unless familiar with the body of water. Then, operate at a reduced, safe speed. Make sure all navigation lights are in proper working order and displayed properly. Have a cell phone and flashlight on hand in case of emergency.
• Inflatable PFDs may not be used by persons at the age of 15 and younger. They also are not approved for use by skiers, persons being towed on tubes or other aqua-planning devices, or for use on personal watercraft.
Beach and Swimming Safety Reminders
• Always check surf and weather conditions before heading to the beach and observe beach flags.
• Never swim alone. Always stay in groups. Don’t wander too far from shore.
• Don’t swim near piers, pilings, and platforms. Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
• Do not swim in areas being used by fishermen. Avoid swimming in areas where schools of fish are present. Diving seabirds are good indicators of areas to avoid.
• Use extra caution when water is murky. Avoid being in the water during dusk, nighttime, or twilight hours.
• Rip currents are most prevalent when the waves crash perpendicular to the beach rather than at an angle. Rip currents are also common in areas near sand bars, piers, pilings and jetties.
• One of the easiest ways to spot a rip current is to look for gaps between the waves. A small patch of calm water surrounded by waves is often a rip current.
• Look for discolored water near the shore. Rip currents tend to drag large amounts of sand and sediment back out to sea with them, so many rip currents are easily identified by a noticeable flow of sand extending away from the shore.
For more information on Memorial Day safety, visit www.alea.gov.