ALEA launches new safety campaign
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Authorities expect it to get very busy this weekend as many prepare to hit the road and head to the lakes and beaches for the Memorial Day holiday. In order to keep you and your family safe, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will launch of a new campaign Friday.
“We absolutely want to reduce the loss of life,” said ALEA Sgt. Jeremy Burkett. “We’re focusing on the highways, waterways and even the airways.”
The Alabama Law Enforcements Agency’s new multifaceted campaign, 101 Days of Safety, kicks off Friday at 12:01 a.m. as many prepare to hit the road headed to their Memorial Day weekend destinations. It will not end until Sept. 5 on Labor Day. Troopers will be out in full force on the roadways looking for dangerous behaviors that lead to crashes.
”We’ve had a lot of fatalities, and so we’re really being targeted, especially those interstates where we know the locations are probable,” said Burkett.
ALEA’s marine patrol division will also be out actively patrolling the waterways.
“They’re going to be set up doing courtesy vessel inspections. They will be checking for all the right safety equipment, making sure you got those personal floatation devices, making sure you got your audible devices, fire extinguishers,” said Burkett.
And this year, the agency is taking safety a step further and utilizing its aviation unit to partner with Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
“So we’re going to be doing heavy patrols on the beach because we have seen in the years past where people get out, get in those rip tides, and we want to make sure that we’re protecting all phases of somebody’s vacation,” said Burkett.
There have been a number of red flag and double red flag days already this year at the beach. If you are going to the Gulf you can check the water conditions before you go in each day. Just text AL Beaches to 888-777 to get text alerts.
ALEA offers the following safety tips to remember:
Highway safety reminders
• Remain attentive around large vehicles and semi-trucks. Large vehicles such as semi-trucks command a heavy presence on interstates. They have limited maneuverability, longer stopping distances and bigger blind spots.
• Expect traffic heavier than usual. Adjust travel plans to accommodate busier roadways and waterways and leave a bit earlier. Avoid speeding, following vehicles too closely and other dangerous behaviors on roadways.
• Prepare your vehicle. Get your vehicle’s tires, brakes, exterior lights, battery, air filters, wipers and fluid levels checked before you a leave for a trip. Keep an emergency kit available. (Inflated spire tire, first aid kit, jumper cables, phone charger, etc.)
• Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you plan on consuming alcohol pre-plan for a designated driver, call Uber or a cab. Designate a sober driver in advance to get you home safely
• Buckle up, no matter how short your trip. Ensure all the vehicle’s occupants are buckled up and children are utilizing a child restraint system. Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashed are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13.
• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. “Following too close” is one of the leading contributing factors behind crashes. Maintaining situational awareness and operating under a defensive driving posture is critical in avoiding crashes especially during high traffic periods.
Boating safety reminders
• Holidays are not the time for novice boaters to learn to operate their crafts. Operator inexperience is one of the leading contributing factors to boating crashes in Alabama. New operators should consider attending an in-person boating safety class prior to going to the water.
• Children younger than age 8 are required to always wear personal floatation devices, unless inside a permanently affixed cabin enclosure. They also should wear PFDs that are the appropriate size.
• Be mindful of other boaters. Avoid passing too closely to boats in motion, boats at idle and people in the water.
• Boaters should avoid the use of alcoholic beverages or use the designated operator system. The sun, wind and other weather conditions already produce an effect on boaters known as “boater fatigue,” and the consumption of alcohol only compounds and intensifies the effect.
• Avoid boating at night unless familiar with the body of water, then operate at a reduced, safe speed. Make sure all navigation lights are in proper working order and displayed properly. Have a cell phone and flashlight on hand in case of emergency.
• Inflatable PFDs may not be used by persons at the age of 15 and younger. They also are not approved for use by skiers, persons being towed on tubes or other aqua-planning devices, or for use on personal watercraft.
Beach and swimming safety reminders
• Always check surf and weather conditions before heading to the beach and observe beach flags.
• Never swim alone. Always stay in groups. Don’t wander too far from shore.
• Don’t swim near piers, pilings and platforms. Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
• Do not swim in areas being used by fishermen. Avoid swimming in areas where schools of fish are present. Diving seabirds are good indicators of areas to avoid.
• Use extra caution when water is murky. Avoid being in the water during dusk, nighttime, or twilight hours.
• Rip currents are most prevalent when the waves crash perpendicular to the beach rather than at an angle. Rip currents are also common in areas near sand bars, piers, pilings and jetties.
• One of the easiest ways to spot a rip current is to look for gaps between the waves. A small patch of calm water surrounded by waves is often a rip current.
• Look for discolored water near the shore. Rip currents tend to drag large amounts of sand and sediment back out to sea with them, so many rip currents are easily identified by a noticeable flow of sand extending away from the shore.
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