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Law enforcement agencies urge safety when traveling this Fourth of July

Published 4:20pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014

State law enforcement agencies have teamed together to remind Alabamians that safety is important when traveling Alabama roadways or waterways this Fourth of July.

For many people, Independence Day activities include alcohol, but the holiday quickly goes from festive to fatal when people choose to drive on roadways or operate vessels on waterways after drinking.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows during the Fourth of July period in 2012, 179 people were killed in crashes across the nation and 44 percent of those deadly crashes involved alcohol.

In addition, each Fourth of July, thousands of injuries are attributed to the use of fireworks.

A 2013 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission study revealed eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers sustained injuries related to fireworks across the United States.

This is an increase from 8,700 injuries in 2012.

Sixty-five percent (7,400) of the 2013 injuries occurred within 30 days of July 4, 2013.

“State law enforcement agencies are working together with county and municipal agencies to reduce injuries and deaths during this holiday period,” said Spencer Collier, Secretary of Law Enforcement. “Agencies will be enforcing traffic, boating, alcoholic beverage and fireworks laws.”

State law enforcement urges residents to follow these safety tips:

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

•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.

•Slow down in construction zones. Drivers pose the greatest danger in work zone crashes by speeding, not paying attention and driving while impaired or distracted.

•Use common sense and obey the law when using fireworks. Do not discharge fireworks within 600 feet of any enclosed building, do not shoot fireworks into or from a motor vehicle or vessel and do not shoot fireworks toward people.

•Supervise children 15 and younger. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers, which burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.

•Use fireworks in a clear, open area outdoors and away from flammables and combustibles. There also should be an ample water supply and fire extinguisher on hand.

•Never consume alcohol while handling fireworks.

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