ALABAMA (WRBL) – With the Memorial Day Weekend, the summer season kicks off and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is launching its 101 Days of Safety campaign.
The campaign begins with Memorial Day, on May 27, and ends with Labor Day, on Sept. 5.
It aims to keep Alabamians safe on highways, waterways, and every airways, and will use a variety of initiatives to do so.
The official Memorial Day travel period begins on 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 27, and ends at midnight Monday, May 30. During this time, ALEA Troopers with the Highway Patrol and Marine Patrol Divisions will be actively patrolling the state’s roadways and waterways.
This year, throughout the Memorial Day weekend, ALEA will also use its Aviation Unit in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to assist with swimmer rescues.
This will help increase beach safety, and allow for quicker water rescue response, according to Protective Services Division Chief Stephen Tidwell.
“The purpose of this detail is to provide a rapid response water emergency team to enhance the safety for all citizens and visitors on Alabama’s beaches,” said Tidwell.
The Marine Patrol Division will also be available to assist with any boaters in distress according to the Chief responsible for ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division, Steve Thompson.
“Our state has a multitude of waterways which host a variety of aquatic and marine related activities, so regardless of where you plan to enjoy your Memorial Day weekend festivities, Marine Patrol Troopers will be out patrolling Alabama’s rivers, lakes and beaches,” said Thompson.
Thompson also said Troopers will be making sure water vessel are in good working order.
“Troopers will be conducting safety vessel inspections to ensure every boat on the water is properly equipped with all the necessary safety equipment including a personal floatation device (PFD) for everyone on board the vessel,” said Thompson.
They will also be on the lookout for those who might impaired.
“Please understand there will be zero tolerance for boating under the influence,” said Thompson. “We want everyone to relax and enjoy the upcoming weekend, but you must be safety aware while on the water.”
Troopers also want to ensure safety on the roadways and will be out in full force over the weekend.
One concern is more traffic on Alabama roadways.
“Recently, we have seen a dramatic increase in commercial motor vehicle traffic across our state, as various industries continue to move into Alabama, we believe this trend will only increase. Given the influx in commercial vehicle traffic along with the much-anticipated Memorial Day weekend, we may see historic volumes of traffic on Alabama roadways,” said Colonel Jimmy Helms.
Helms wants to remind everyone to be vigilant while driving, especially when traffic is heavier than normal.
“You must be a defensive driver because the slightest amount of inattention can have tragic consequences,” said Colonel Jimmy Helms.
ALEA offers the following safety tips to remember:
Highway Safety Reminders
•Remain attentive around large vehicles and semi-trucks. Large vehicles such as semi-trucks command a heavy presence on interstates. They have limited maneuverability, longer stopping distances and bigger blind spots.
•Expect traffic heavier than usual. Adjust travel plans to accommodate busier roadways and waterways and leave a bit earlier. Avoid speeding, following vehicles too closely and other dangerous behaviors on roadways.
•Prepare your vehicle. Get your vehicle’s tires, brakes, exterior lights, battery, air filters, wipers and fluid levels checked before you a leave for a trip. Keep an emergency kit available. (Inflated spire tire, first aid kit, jumper cables, phone charger, etc.)
•Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you plan on consuming alcohol pre-plan for a designated driver, call Uber or a cab. Designate a sober driver in advance to get you home safely
•Buckle up – no matter how short your trip. Ensure all the vehicle’s occupants are buckled up and children are utilizing a child restraint system. Car seats and boosters provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashed are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13.
•Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. “Following too close” is one of the leading contributing factors behind crashes. Maintaining situational awareness and operating under a defensive driving posture is critical in avoiding crashes especially during high traffic periods.
Boating Safety Reminders
•Holidays are not the time for novice boaters to learn to operate their crafts. Operator inexperience is one of the leading contributing factors to boating crashes in Alabama. New operators should consider attending an in-person boating-safety class prior to going to the water.
•Children younger than age 8 are required to always wear PFDs (unless inside a permanently affixed cabin enclosure). They also should wear PFDs that are the appropriate size.
•Be mindful of other boaters. Avoid passing too closely to boats in motion, boats at idle and persons in the water.
•Boaters should avoid the use of alcoholic beverages or use the designated operator system. The sun, wind and other weather conditions already produce an effect on boaters known as “boater fatigue,” and the consumption of alcohol only compounds and intensifies the effect.
•Avoid boating at night unless familiar with the body of water. Then, operate at a reduced, safe speed. Make sure all navigation lights are in proper working order and displayed properly. Have a cell phone and flashlight on hand in case of emergency.
•Inflatable PFDs may not be used by persons at the age of 15 and younger. They also are not approved for use by skiers, persons being towed on tubes or other aqua-planning devices, or for use on personal watercraft.
Beach and Swimming Safety Reminders
•Always check surf and weather conditions before heading to the beach and observe beach flags.
•Never swim alone. Always stay in groups. Don’t wander too far from shore.
•Don’t swim near piers, pilings, and platforms. Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
•Do not swim in areas being used by fishermen. Avoid swimming in areas where schools of fish are present. Diving seabirds are good indicators of areas to avoid.
•Use extra caution when water is murky. Avoid beingin the water during dusk, nighttime, or twilight hours.
•Rip currents are most prevalent when the waves crash perpendicular to the beach rather than at an angle. Rip currents are also common in areas near sand bars, piers, pilings and jetties.
•One of the easiest ways to spot a rip current is to look for gaps between the waves. A small patch of calm water surrounded by waves is often a rip current.
•Look for discolored water near the shore. Rip currents tend to drag large amounts of sand and sediment back out to sea with them, so many rip currents are easily identified by a noticeable flow of sand extending away from the shore.