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ALEA increasing patrols amid Thanksgiving travel

Last year, ALEA reported three fewer traffic-related deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday...
Last year, ALEA reported three fewer traffic-related deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period compared to 2019. It's a trend they hope to see again this year.(Source: WSFA)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:31 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 11:25 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Millions of Americans are hitting the road this week to reunite with loved ones around the Thanksgiving table.

AAA predicts a 13% increase in travel compared to last year, and more cars on the road means a higher chance for accidents. That’s why the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says they will be out in full force patrolling roadways and enforcing traffic laws.

ALEA Sgt. Jeremy Burkett said they are increasing patrols in areas where they see the most accidents.

“Whereas you may typically have some one or two people on patrol, we’re going to have three, four, five and in some cases even six,” Burkett said.

“Our highway patrol division has developed a very specific and deliberate holiday enforcement plan that targets those areas in which historically, we have documented an elevated number of crashes,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. “This initiative includes proactive patrols utilizing a variety of enforcement techniques along our major thoroughfares, specifically Interstates 10, 65 and 85.”

It’s all in an effort to save lives. Burkett said the accidents they see most this time of year are typically caused by one of three things; speeding, drunk driving, or following too close to the car in front of you.

Burkett said accidents could be prevented if we all followed these safety tips:

  • On multilane roadways, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, but Alabama law also requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to only use the left lane for passing (when posted). Motorists can drive for a mile and half in the left lane before needing to move back over.
  • Alabama’s seat belt/child restraint law requires all passengers, no matter how old or which seat they are occupying, to be buckled up.
  • Do not drink and drive. Make alternate travel plans if you are consuming alcohol. Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from consuming alcohol and it is illegal for anyone to have an open bottle of alcohol in a vehicle.
  • Avoid driving distracted. Distractions include texting, utilizing a cellphone or smartphone, talking to passengers, watching videos, playing mobile games, adjusting the radio, navigation system or other devices. Distractions endanger drivers, passengers and bystander safety. Alabama law prohibits texting while driving as well as searching the Internet on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
  • Don’t drive fatigued. Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions/closings in Alabama, visit www.alea.gov/weather-advisories.
  • Stay alert when shopping and driving through crowded parking lots. Stay vigilant and park in well-lighted areas when shopping at night. Citizens should lock their vehicles and remove any valuables, including money or wallets from plain sight. Slow down in congested parking lots and stay alert for shoppers and pedestrians.
  • Move over when approaching emergency or tow vehicles. Alabama’s “move over” law requires motorists to move over or slow down to 15 mph or less than the posted speed limit if you are not able to change lanes.

Last year, ALEA reported three fewer traffic-related deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period compared to 2019. It’s a trend they hope to see again this year, but that all comes down to being prepared and planning ahead before you hit the road.

“We understand everybody wants to get to their favorite holiday destination and enjoy all the festivities and the fun, but we need everyone to pay attention on the way there as well as the way back,” Burkett said.

Recently, ALEA partnered with the Alabama Department of Transportation in their new campaign Not a Game to promote work zone safety and inform drivers of recent changes to the state’s construction zone law.

Fines for any moving traffic violation committed in a construction zone where workers are present will now result in a $250 fine or double the regular fine, whichever amount is greater. Double fines will now be given for dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, aggressive driving and distracted driving.

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.