17 traffic deaths investigated statewide during holiday campaign

Published 9:12 am Friday, January 10, 2014

Alabama State Troopers investigated 17 traffic deaths during this past Christmas and New Year’s Day enforcement period that began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, and ran through midnight Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, according to a press release.

Eight drivers, eight passengers and one pedal cyclist were killed in traffic crashes that occurred in Bullock, Chambers, Cherokee, DeKalb, Escambia, Franklin, Jackson, Macon, Marengo, Marshall and Talladega counties.

Although seat belts were available for 16 of the 17 individuals killed, only four of those 16 were using seat belts at the time of the crashes.

Troopers continue to investigate these fatal incidents, but preliminary investigation indicates alcohol was a factor in five of the 17 deaths.

During the same 12-day period for 2012/2013, troopers investigated 15 traffic deaths. As the new year progresses, troopers encourage the motoring public to continue to obey all traffic laws and make safety a priority, particularly when temperatures dip below freezing and ice may be present on roadways.

Crash activity reports from the Alabama Department of Public Safety show the number of victims who died in vehicle crashes where seat belts were available and were not wearing seat belts decreased from November 2013 to December 2013.

Unfortunately, the total of victims not wearing seat belts in 2013 increased from last year.

According to preliminary traffic crash data, there were 40 victims killed in vehicle crashes investigated by Alabama State Troopers in December 2013, down from 52 in November. Of the December number, 36 were in vehicles where seat belts were available, and 19 victims were not wearing seat belts, down from 31 in November.

The latest information from DPS shows 515 victims were killed in 2013, a decrease of one from the same time period in 2012. However, of the 515 crash victims this year, 432 were in vehicles where seat belts were available, but 257 victims were not restrained, an increase of five from 2012.

“Seat belts (and child restraints) are the most effective safety feature in a motor vehicle and help to save hundreds of lives each year,” said Col. Hugh B. McCall, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety and the state’s highest-ranking trooper. “In Alabama, using seat belts and child restraints is not an option. It’s the law.”

Preliminary data from traffic crashes investigated by state troopers indicates there have already been five fatalities in 2014.

Of that number, all five were in vehicles where seat belts were available, but three of the victims were not properly restrained.

“We must be more proactive in ensuring everyone buckles up every time they travel on the roadways,” Transportation Director John Cooper said. “Our goal for the new year is to decrease the number of crashes and fatalities, promote more seat belt use and work toward zero deaths on Alabama’s highways.”

Data from traffic crashes investigated by state troopers indicates 59 percent of all victims killed in 2012 were not wearing seat belts at the time of their deaths.

DPS and ALDOT jointly release to the public each month the number of unrestrained fatalities in crashes investigated by troopers in an effort to improve seat belt use and decrease deaths on Alabama highways.

For additional information, visit www.dot.state.al.us or www.dps.alabama.gov.