MONTGOMERY – This year’s Fourth of July extended holiday period was one day longer than the holiday in 2022, however, Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Highway Patrol investigated 50 percent fewer traffic deaths than the previous year.
ALEA’s Highway Patrol Division investigated four traffic fatalities, and the Marine Patrol Division investigated zero boating fatalities (drownings) between 12 a.m. Friday, June 30, and 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, July 4, one day longer than the 2022 holiday period, which was from July 1 to July 4.
ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said, “Our Troopers did outstanding work this holiday period, conducting numerous high-visibility details and safety initiatives. 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. Even though four fewer lives were lost this Fourth of July travel period compared to last year, our goal is always zero. We must remember that we all can do our part to help make the roadways and waterways safe for everyone.”
In addition, Troopers in ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division investigated six boating crashes that resulted in four injuries, 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 in 2022.
Colonel Jon Archer, Director of ALEA’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), said, “Once again, two of ALEA’s DPS Divisions partnered with local, state and federal agencies to promote safety. Marine Patrol joined the U.S. Coast Guard, Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and other agencies for Operation Dry Water, a national year-round 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.”
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.”
During the five-day holiday travel period, Highway Patrol also joined local, state and federal first responders for the national safety initiative Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, designed to combat driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs.
In addition to regular patrols on Alabama roadways, ALEA scheduled informative media days across the state. Troopers on Alabama roadways also conducted a variety of enforcement activities, including driver license and equipment check points and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) details to curb such deadly driving behaviors as DUI, distracted driving, speeding and failure to buckle up.
The four Trooper-investigated traffic fatalities occurred in Perry, Tuscaloosa, Mobile and Houston counties. Of the three drivers fatally injured, two were not using seat belts. The fourth individual was operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). ALEA’s Aviation Unit also was involved in making the state’s beaches safer for everyone between Saturday, July 1, and Tuesday, July 4. Unit personnel partnered with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to patrol beaches from the air and to assist with rescuing swimmers in distress and other incidents. During the extended weekend, ALEA pilots responded to a request to assist two swimmers, both of whom were intercepted by ground crew prior to Aviation’s arrival. Overall, the Unit performed approximately 12 beach safety flights.