Alabama law enforcement encourages common sense on New Year's Eve

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There are three things that have law enforcement concerned about the roads on New Year's Eve - the forecast, the first day of a new year, and football.

When you mix new year's celebrations with slick roads and the Cotton Bowl, the dangers of driving tonight are tripled. That's why Montgomery police and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are encouraging drivers to use common sense.

"We just really want folks to leave that distance between the car in front of you," said Sgt. Brian Champlin with the Montgomery Police Department. "Try to stay off of your phones and keep distractions to a minimum so you can get to where you need to go safely."

"If you're going to consume alcohol, you don't need to get behind the wheel - period," said Cpl. Jess Thornton with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. "You don't need to wonder 'Have I had too much?' If you're going to consume alcohol, you need to be responsible, you need to have a designated driver, you need to stay where you're at and you do not need to get behind the wheel of a vehicle."

Driving while distracted can not only cause a crash, but it could distract you from avoiding one as well.

And If you have to question whether or not you should drive, then don't. Forty percent of the accidents ALEA responds to are caused by impaired drivers. In the eyes of the law, buzzed driving IS drunk driving, and they have zero tolerance for "one too many."

"Within the last week, State Troopers have put three people in jail on manslaughter charges for driving either reckless or driving impaired," Thornton said. "If you hit and kill somebody, tonight or any other night, we're going to do everything in our power to make sure you go to jail for murder."

For 2016, ALEA is making a resolution to decrease a number that went up this year.

"At this time, we're 18 fatalities higher than we were this time last year. So, we'll probably end the year unfortunately with more people getting killed in traffic crashes in Alabama than they did last year. It's not a good trend," Thornton said.

As of noon on New Year's Eve, 524 Alabamians lost their lives in traffic accidents worked by ALEA this year. Despite the warnings, Thornton says that number will likely increase by the end of the night.

Copyright 2015 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved