State law enforcement say roads and waterways were safer this holiday weekend
Alabama state troopers have patrolled Alabama’s interstate highways for years but, they say, this July 4 weekend was a little different. Even with the holiday including an additional day, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) tells WVUA 23 News that its highway patrol reported 50% fewer traffic deaths than the July 4 weekend of 2022.
ALEA’s Highway Patrol Division reported four traffic deaths statewide, including one in Tuscaloosa County. The other traffic fatalities occurred in Perry, Mobile and Houston counties. Of the three drivers fatally injured, two were not wearing seat belts. The fourth individual, from Tuscaloosa County was operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said this year’s numbers reflect a more visible police presence and additional safety initiatives.
“Our Troopers did outstanding work this holiday period. We will continue to promote public safety throughout the state on both Alabama’s roadways and waterways in order to reduce crashes and save lives,” said Secretary Taylor.
Troopers in ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division investigated six boating crashes that resulted in four injuries from July 1 to July 4. Those crashes were reported on Fish River, Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Wedowee, Smith Lake, Wilson Lake and Wheeler Lake. This year’s total is two fewer than during the same time period last year.
Colonel Jon Archer, Director of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), said Alabama’s waterways are safer due to a partnership with local, state and federal agencies.
“The Marine Patrol joined the U.S. Coast Guard, Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and other agencies for ‘Operation Dry Water’, a national boating under the influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign. They conducted safety check points, saturation law enforcement patrols, vessel inspections and increased night patrols looking for violations that may indicate the presence of an impaired operator,” said Col Archer.
During the five-day holiday travel period, ALEA officers also joined local, state and federal first responders for the national safety initiative “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” The safety campaign is designed to combat driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs.
Alabama Troopers held a variety of enforcement activities, including driver license and equipment check points and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to curb deadly driving behaviors like DUIs, distracted driving, speeding and not wearing a seat belt.
ALEA’s Aviation Unit also was involved in making the state’s beaches safer during the busy beach weekend. State personnel partnered with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to patrol beaches from the air. During the extended holiday weekend, ALEA pilots responded to a request to help two swimmers. All together, 12 beach safety flights were conducted.
Colonel Archer added, “We hope everyone had fun this Fourth of July, but summer boating season is only beginning. If you plan to spend time on Alabama waterways, please be aware of
the dangers of the water, particularly what we call ‘boater’s fatigue,’ caused by the combination of sun, wind, noise, vibration and the movement of the boat. Not only can it impair judgment and
risk the safety of your passengers and other boaters, but consuming alcohol intensifies the effect.”
ALEA emphasizes that we all must remember to do our part to help make Alabama’s roadways and waterways safe for everyone.