As more vehicles take to Alabama’s roadways for the Thanksgiving holiday, more state troopers will also be out in an attempt to cut down on the rising numbers of wrecks and fatalities, officials said Monday.
According to data from the University of Alabama’s Center for Advanced Public Safety, the number of wrecks during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday dipped slightly in 2013, but generally increased from 2011 to 2015.
This year’s Thanksgiving period begins at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and lasts until midnight Sunday, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
“As you can tell, the numbers continue to rise and we are about to enter the busiest travel period of the year,” State Trooper Chuck Daniel wrote in an email Monday. “ALEA will be working extra shifts during the Thanksgiving travel period and we want motorists to be sober, focused, and mindful of their speed.”
In 2015, “there was a daily average of 460 automobile crashes in the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week,” according to a news release from the university’s center.
“The average number of crashes per day the rest of the year is 409,” according to the release.
State troopers investigated 13 deaths in 10 wrecks over the holiday last year, according to a news release sent Friday from ALEA.
“What should have been a festive occasion was marred by tragedy on Alabama’s roadways,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Stan Stabler was quoted as saying in the release. “Please, motorists, support the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and our law enforcement partners from across the state to ensure everyone buckles up, obeys speed limits and avoids driving under the influence or while distracted.”
In Calhoun County, wreck numbers fluctuated between 2011 and 2015 but the number of injured in those wrecks continued to decrease until 2015, when 14 people were injured as compared to the six in 2014, according to the center’s data. For the past five years, there have been no fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday in Calhoun County, according to the center.
State troopers in 2016, however, have said this year has been deadlier than last year. As of Sunday state troopers have worked 28,005 wrecks with 591 fatalities, Daniel wrote. Last year, at the same time, troopers worked 27,655 with 460 fatalities, he wrote.
“The factors that are causing these high numbers are the same factors that we always see year around: speed, distractions, and alcohol being three of the common factors,” Daniel wrote. “The roadways have been very busy this year and gas prices being low is one of the main reasons.”