Troopers taking back our highways

Published 2:01 pm Monday, November 19, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell
Police officers in Escambia County will join Alabama State Troopers in a campaign to make highway travel safer. In what will be the second program dubbed as "Take Back Our Highways," increased patrolling on city and state roads will be conducted Nov. 19-25.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety first introduced the "Take Back Our Highways" program in August with a weeklong focus on promoting highway safety.
"The first program was held Aug. 13-17 and added about 200 troopers to the patrols along our highways," ADPH Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy said. "During that week, rural traffic deaths in Alabama were cut 69 percent compared with the same period in 2006."
Atmore's police department notified officials at the Evergreen Post of the Alabama State Troopers of their planned participation in the weeklong initiative, according to Evergreen post Sgt. J.R. Ward.
"Law enforcement agencies from around the area, as well as the states of Mississippi and Tennessee, have pledged their participation in a larger scale version of the highly successful safety initiative that originally took place in August," Ward said. "Motorists traveling during this holiday period will see an increased officer presence on our roadways."
The Alabama Department of Public Safety has declared the initiative for the full week surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday with an intense focus during the 102-hour period beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and ending at midnight Sunday, Nov. 25.
In 2006 during the 102-hour period, 19 people were killed in traffic crashes on Alabama roadways. Twelve of the fatalities were in rural areas with seven in urban areas. At least three of the fatalities were alcohol-related and eight of the occupants killed were not using seat belts, Murphy said.
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said the main reason for the "Take Back Our Highways" initiative is safety and that he is happy to find surrounding states following Alabama's lead.
"Our efforts in Alabama are working to save lives," Riley said in a news release. "Our emphasis on safety has helped reduce traffic deaths and injuries on rural Alabama roads to their lowest levels in four years. Now, we are pleased to be joined by our neighbors Mississippi and Tennessee in making all our highways safer this Thanksgiving season."
Motorists are encouraged to buckle up, obey the speed limit and all other traffic laws and refraining from drinking a driving to help ensure safety of everyone on the highways, Ward said.
Atmore Police Department chief Jason Dean was not available for comment at press time.
Atmore Advance staff reporter Adrienne McKenzie contributed to this article.

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