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Officials working to ensure Christmas travel safety after deadly Thanksgiving travel period


SYLACAUGA, Ala. – According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, the 2015 Thanksgiving season was a fatal one when it came to driver safety. In fact it was so fatal, ALDOT took even more safety measures for 2016. previously reported on the efforts made by ALDOT to help keep drivers safe during the five day Thanksgiving travel season.

Even with all the warnings and extra measures taken by ALDOT to make the 2016 Thanksgiving travel season safer for drivers, it would unfortunately see an increase in traffic related deaths.

According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), State Troopers investigated 419 traffic accidents resulting in 204 injuries, and 14 fatalities from Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 27.

“There is never a good time to report traffic fatalities, particularly when we see an increase,” said Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler. “During Thanksgiving this year, our troopers investigated four more traffic deaths than during the same extended holiday weekend in 2015.”

Of the 14 people killed around Thanksgiving, one was a motorcyclist, another a 12 year old who was operating an ATV. The other 12 were in vehicles that had seat belts with only seven in use.

As the Christmas travel season approaches, ALDOT says the most dense travel days are expected to be Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26.

But what measures will be taken to ensure that Christmas travel will be safe?

Sergeant Steve Jarrett with ALEA told State Troopers are planning to be highly visible during the Christmas season. He said ALEA will have additional patrols that will be watching closely for the top violations that cause accidents that lead to injuries and fatalities. Those top violations include, speeding, driving under the influence, failure to yield, and texting while driving. “For those who choose not to obey traffic laws and create an unsafe environment, we will take the appropriate action to correct that behavior,” said Jarrett.

Allison Green, Drive Safe Alabama coordinator with ALDOT, said motorists are six times more likely to die in a crash when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is involved.

State Troopers and ALDOT are also stressing the importance of wearing a seat belt.

“Buckling up this holiday season is the best gift you can give yourself and your family and friends,” stated Green. “Almost 60 percent of the people who died in crashes in Alabama last year were not wearing a seat belt, and most of those crashes would have been survivable if they had been wearing a seat belt.”

As far as plans go for ALDOT, they look similar to past holiday seasons. Although nothing has been officially released, Green said ALDOT is looking to stop all temporary lane closures on interstates at noon on Dec. 23 through midnight Dec. 26 to help promote the safety of travelers, construction workers, and road maintenance crews.

Green also listed outreach through community events and partnering with State Troopers as ways that ALDOT is working to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on Alabama roadways.

So what are some things officials say you can do to help save your life this holiday season?

  • Be patient and follow the speed limit. With so many people traveling it will be important to stay composed on the highway.
  • Avoid distractions at all times. No phones and especially no texting and driving.
  • Be sure buckle up. It will save your life.
  • Obey all traffic laws and make highway safety a priority.

ALEA officials told although it will have a higher presence during the Christmas travel season, it is important to note that it has a severe manpower shortage. ALEA needs the public to be self-disciplined and drive with caution.

To learn more about driver safety you can visit

Jeremy Law for | © 2016, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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