May 21, 2010

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Public Safety

Take Back Our Highways, CIOT Campaigns Lead Effort to Save Lives

MONTGOMERY — A new Take Back Our Highways initiative will kick off the warm-weather travel season in Alabama with the goals of saving lives and increasing highway safety. Department of Public Safety Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy said Alabama state troopers will launch the 10-day traffic safety blitz May 22, and it will continue through Memorial Day, May 31.


Murphy said troopers from all ranks and divisions of DPS will again blanket the state in an intensive patrol effort aimed at saving lives, improving driving behavior, and increasing awareness of safety. Murphy said DPS has invited local law enforcement agencies and neighboring states to join the highway safety campaign. The Alabama Department of Transportation will support TBOH by posting roadside message boards that encourage driving safety.


Take Back Our Highways coincides with another national traffic safety campaign, the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization May 24-June 6. Troopers, along with participating local law enforcement agencies, will be focusing on compliance with the state’s seat belt and child restraint laws during the CIOT enforcement period.


Troopers especially will target DUI and seat belt violations during TBOH. They also will focus on speeding, following too closely, and improper lane change – all violations that contribute to traffic crashes and fatalities. Enforcement operations will include saturation patrols, line patrols, motorcycle details, LIDAR speed details, and license and equipment checkpoints. Based on detailed statistical analysis of where, when and how frequently crashes occur, Public Safety’s eight Highway Patrol troop commanders have tailored enforcement plans to concentrate troopers in high-crash locations for each area of the state.


Murphy said the expanded enforcement effort would not be possible without grant funding provided by the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ Law Enforcement/Traffic Safety Section. He cited ALDOT and ADECA as valuable partners in the state’s traffic safety efforts and thanked them for their ongoing support.


Task Force Zero, teams of troopers specially trained to detect and arrest impaired drivers, will be a valuable component in the department’s crackdown on DUI. TFZ teams will make use of DPS’s fleet of nine BAT-mobiles, which are equipped with breath-alcohol testing equipment and allow for on-scene processing of impaired drivers. The large trucks also serve as temporary holding stations for those placed under arrest. Grant funding for the BAT-mobiles was awarded by Gov. Bob Riley and administered by ADECA. Testing equipment was provided by the Department of Forensic Sciences.


Murphy thanked Riley and the Alabama Legislature for supporting Public Safety’s traffic safety initiatives. “Since the first Take Back Our Highways campaign was conducted in 2007, trooper-reported traffic deaths in Alabama have steadily declined – from 828 in 2006 to 541 in 2009. This represents a 35 percent decrease in traffic deaths. He said year-to-date reports reflect 41 fewer trooper-reported traffic deaths compared with the same period in 2009.


Murphy stressed the vital importance of buckling up. “Simply stated, buckling up saves lives,” said the colonel. He said about two-thirds of those killed in trooper-reported crashes last year in Alabama were not using safety restraints. “Many lives could be saved if every vehicle occupant buckled up.”


The official Memorial Day holiday travel period begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 28, and ends at midnight Monday, May 31. Last year during the 78-hour Memorial Day weekend 15 people, including 12 vehicle occupants, two pedestrians and one ATV operator, were killed in traffic crashes in the state. At least five of the deaths were alcohol related, and six of the 12 crash victims who were vehicle occupants were not using safety restraints.


Murphy said troopers will strictly enforce the state’s seat belt and child restraint laws. Alabama’s seat belt law mandates that all front-seat occupants, regardless of age, be restrained. The state’s child restraint law requires the following size-appropriate restraint systems for children riding in front and back seats:


¨       Infant-only seats and convertible seats used in the rear-facing position for infants until at least 1 year of age or 20 pounds;

¨       Convertible seats in the forward position or forward-facing seats until the child is at least 5 years of age or 40 pounds;

¨       Booster seats until the child is 6 years of age;

¨       Seat belts until the child is 15 years of age.


Murphy also issued a reminder about Alabama’s “move-over” law. The “move-over” law requires that vehicles on roads with four or more lanes move over one lane when passing an emergency vehicle that is stopped roadside with emergency lights activated. When the vehicle cannot safely move over, the law requires the driver to slow down and pass with caution.


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