ALEA offers safety tips for Fourth of July celebrations

MONTGOMERY – Across Alabama, families and friends will gather to celebrate Independence Day with parades, parties and fireworks. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) reminds Alabamians safety is important when traveling Alabama roadways or waterways, and when celebrations involve fireworks.

“Safety is always a priority, particularly as Independence Day weekend festivities may involve alcohol and may result in traffic or boating crashes, injuries and fatalities,” Alabama’s Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler said. “By all means, have fun. Just designate a driver to get you home safely, whether on the water or roadway.”

To spread this safety message, ALEA is participating in two national campaigns: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Operation Dry Water (ODW). ODW is a boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign. ALEA’s Director of Public Safety John Richardson said, “Troopers assigned to Marine Patrol will work to reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.”

Operation Dry Water’s heightened enforcement three-day weekend is annual and takes place the weekend prior to the weekend of the Fourth, a holiday known for drinking and boating – and deadly crashes. This year, the weekend is Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26.

Additionally, State Troopers will bolster enforcement on Alabama roadways efforts beginning Friday, July 1, and running through midnight Monday, July 4. During the previous year, the Fourth holiday travel period was from 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 3, through midnight Sunday, July 5. Troopers investigated five fatalities on roadways and two boating fatalities.

“We look forward to joining our county and municipal law enforcement partners to reduce injuries and deaths during this holiday period by enforcing traffic, boating and alcoholic beverage laws,” Stabler said.

In addition, Stabler offered the following safety tips:

·Avoid driving or boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

·Buckle up on the road or on the water — no matter how short your trip. Occupants of all ages should use seat belts or child restraints when traveling by motor vehicles. On waterways, all occupants of water vessels should use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

·Focus on driving or boating, and avoid such distractions as texting and using cell phones.

·Restrict access and closely monitor teens to prevent underage use of alcoholic beverages.

·Take care while traveling through construction zones as drivers pose the greatest danger in these areas by speeding, not paying attention and driving while impaired or distracted.

Troopers will work additional patrol shifts with grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and the Alabama Department of Transportation.