Surviving holiday travel
By By Janet Little Cooper
Traveling during the holidays is practically unavoidable. Whether you plan to shop around town or out of town, or if you plan to visit family in other cities, your travel plans need to be made with safety in mind.
"For anyone on the roads it is always important to wear a seat belt," said Director of Public Safety Glenn Carlee with the Atmore Police Department. "Seat belts are especially important with the increased holiday traffic and accidents this time of year."
Carlee said that those who plan to be on the roadways this holiday season should practice patience.
"Everyone needs to be patient," Carlee said. "This is an extremely hectic time of the year for everyone.Everybody is in a hurry so it is important for drivers to allow enough time to reach their destination without having to rush."
Carlee said travelers should make plans well enough in advance to allow for delays that may unexpectedly occur due to inclement weather conditions.
"Weather conditions such as rain and fog can also cause unexpected problems and delays for travelers," Carlee said. "Again, driver's need to leave early in order to compensate for any delays without having to rush to reach their destination."
According to Carlee the department will step up patrol during the holiday weekend by adding patrols to the city streets in an effort to help residents have a safe holiday weekend.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety will also be patrolling Alabama's roadways throughout the holiday travel season.
All available troopers will be on duty during a stepped-up enforcement
effort that will include routine patrols and special enforcement details such as checkpoints and line patrols.
Public Safety Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy said troopers will be
targeting drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs during the holiday travel season.
"There is no more imminent threat to traffic safety than the drunken
driver," Murphy said. "Alabama troopers will be watchful for all traffic violations, but will be especially vigilant for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs."
Murphy urged motorists to drive with care and caution during holiday travel, buckling up on each and every trip.
"The consistent use of seatbelts and child restraints helps guarantee
safety," Murphy said. "Troopers will specifically target violation of
Alabama's safety belt and child safety seat laws. Failure to use restraints significantly increases the chances of severe or fatal injury, particularly in crashes involving higher speeds."
The Alabama Department of Public Safety estimates that 14 people may lose their lives in traffic crashes in the state during the 78-hour Christmas travel period, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, and ends at midnight Monday, Dec. 25.
In 2005, 13 people died in traffic crashes on Alabama roadways during the 78-hour Christmas period, 10 on rural roadways and three in urban areas.
Alcohol was a factor in at least three of the deaths, and eight of the wreck victims were not using safety belts.
The traffic fatality prediction for New Year's is that 14 people may die in traffic crashes in Alabama during the 78-hour period from 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, through midnight Monday, Jan. 1, 2007.
Last year, 10 people died during the 78-hour New Year's travel period, six on rural roads and four in urban areas. At least six of the deaths involved alcohol, and three of the crash victims.