Holiday safety tips for motorists

Published 2:48 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

Local law enforcement agencies are cautioning motorists to use precautions for anyone planning to travel for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

Clanton police chief Brian Stilwell said the biggest thing to remember when planning a trip is to keep in mind that traffic will be heavy so everyone needs to allow for extra travel time.

“There will be a lot of people on the roads trying to get to their destinations so don’t get in a hurry,” Stilwell said. “Allow for extra time to spend on the road due to the high volumes of traffic.”

Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announced Wednesday that no temporary lane closures on Alabama interstates will happen from noon on Friday, Dec. 21 through midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 26. There will also be no temporary lane closures during Dec. 28 through midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

ALDOT said in a release for the safety of the traveling public, construction industry workers and maintenance crews, roadwork would be limited during these busy holiday periods. Throughout the year, ALDOT limits road construction during major holidays, however emergency lane closures may be possible dependent on specific circumstances on interstates and other state roadways.

Jemison police chief Shane Fulmer said before heading out on the road, motorists need to make sure their vehicles are in good shape.

“A lot of times people will head out on a road trip and forget to make sure they have a spare tire with them,” Fulmer said. “Or if they have a flat tire and a spare tire that is in good shape, they realize they don’t have a jack or a flashlight.”

Fulmer said another helpful tip when preparing to travel is to remember to let someone close in relation know departure plans as well as estimated arrival times.

“It is best to let someone know before you leave where you will be going and when you plan on leaving and arriving at your destination,” Fulmer said. “That way if something happens someone knows to call and check on you.”

Fulmer said motorists also need to stop at rest areas or interstate exits that are brightly lit.

Fulmer said his department typically sees an increase in traffic accidents during the holidays due to an increase of traffic flow on the roadways.

Fulmer said he will have extra part-time officers working during the holidays to provide for extra patrol along the streets of Jemison.

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said an important warning for those planning a trip over Christmas is to be careful about posting exact destinations to popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We have found that criminals are starting to check the social media sites frequently to find out that someone isn’t going to be home for a particular amount of time and most people have things like their address and telephone number listed on their social media sites,” Davis said. “A lot of people will post something innocent about leaving to head to a relatives’ home and you might not have a problem with your friends on the sites knowing that, but it is the friends of those friends viewing it that can be dangerous.”

Davis said to remember to use seat belts while in the car and avoid drinking alcohol and driving a vehicle.

“Just remember to be safe when getting in a car over the holidays,” Davis said. “There will be a lot of people traveling and it is best to take proper precautions.”

Stilwell said the Clanton Police Department doesn’t necessarily see an increase in traffic accidents but the instance of domestic violence calls increases over the holidays.

“I think it has something to do with family members that haven’t seen each other in a while being in close proximity with one another and sometimes that causes friction,” Stilwell said.

Stilwell said the CPD will have extra police officers working to respond to the calls received over the holidays.

“Just remember to be careful and if you are going to drink alcohol do not get behind the wheel of a car,” Stilwell said. “We hope to not see an increase in accidents this year and just urge everyone to be safe and have a good holiday.”