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Authorities see increase in wrecks on I-65 in Chilton County

Published 4:24pm Friday, October 4, 2013

Staggering statistics

Currently, no wrecks worked by the CPD this year on I-65 were the direct result of someone texting while driving, but one of the main contributing factors falls under the “other-unclassified” category. Stilwell said other main reasons have been driving under the influence (DUI), drivers being tired or fatigued, the stopping distance between vehicles, following too closely or swerving to avoid a vehicle and over correcting.

“Alabama is real lenient on traffic stuff,” Stilwell said. “If you are following too closely, that car doesn’t get a ticket. Most traffic violations have to occur in the presence of an officer so if the officer doesn’t see the motorist committing that infraction, then it goes unaddressed.”

Some of the crash reports from the Alabama State Troopers of wrecks on I-65 this year included reasons such as congested traffic and drivers not paying attention to the road.

One of the reports states a crash at 6:15 p.m. on Aug. 11 on I-65 at Exit 219 resulted in a vehicle approaching a congested traffic area and colliding with a vehicle that collided with another vehicle. The main reason for the collision was the driver said he was driving with his cruise control that was set at 70 miles per hour and he fell asleep at the wheel.

Records provided by Stilwell indicate that Thursday is the highest day of travel for most people on I-65 and 3-4 p.m. is deemed as the worst time for wrecks to occur.

Friday is the next largest day of travel with Sunday and Tuesday tied for third place, Wednesday falls in fourth place and Saturday is the least likely day to have a wreck on the interstate.

Obeying rules of the road

Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer said he has not seen an increase of wrecks this year on I-65 at Exit 219 with only five wrecks worked this year in Jemison.

Most of the wrecks worked in Jemison happened on a Tuesday and every driver involved in a wreck was from Alabama.

CPD statistics show that out of the 38 wrecks worked, 25 of the individuals involved in the wrecks were from Alabama. The remaining 13 were from Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina.

Both Stilwell and Fetner say one of the biggest challenges they face is encouraging people to slow down while traveling on I-65.

“Most people think it is OK to speed, but that is one of the main contributing factors to these crashes,” Fetner said.

The added use of cell phones creates a group of distracted drivers who aren’t 100 percent attentive to the road, Fetner explains.

“People get a phone call or a text message and they stop paying attention to the road when they are traveling at a high rate of speed,” Fetner said. “When you are traveling at 70 mph you really need to be attentive to the road.”

Although the answer to the problem of reducing crashes on the interstate is not a simple one, law enforcement agencies in Chilton County hope to encourage motorists to obey the speed limit and avoid texting while driving.

“We are never going to change the fact that people like to speed, but we can encourage them to slow down and stop texting while they drive,” Stilwell said. “We also hope to one day be allowed to patrol on the interstates again which would hopefully reduce the amount of crashes we are having.”

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