Police out in full force for July 4

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Staff Writer

Those traveling to and fro over the July 4 holiday better follow the traffic laws or it could cost them.

Drivers found to be speeding, driving while intoxicated, without liability insurance and no seat belt could find themselves in trouble because law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for them.

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Locally, officers with the Troy Police Department will step up its already intense traffic enforcement efforts, said Chief Anthony Everage.

He said officers will pay particular attention to those speeding, running red lights and impaired drivers.

The city will have a "zero tolerance" policy on driving under the influence and fireworks.

Officers with the TPD will have a DUI checkpoint with the aid of grant funds from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs – Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Section and the Southeast Alabama Medical Center – Highway Safety Office. The objective of this project is developing and implementing traffic safety enforcement and education programs aimed at reducing auto crashes, injuries

and fatalities.

"Along with the DUI checkpoint, the TPD will also focus its efforts on the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, also known as STEP," Everage said of the project also sponsored by ADECA and SAMC-HSO.

"Officers will be looking for impaired drivers, checking drivers licenses and for liability insurance coverage and seat belt use."

The grant will allow Troy police to conduct and operate other traffic-related programs throughout the summer.

"We just want everyone to have a safe and happy Fourth of July," Everage said.

In an effort to do that, the police department will have additional officers on patrol and on site during the Fourth of July celebration at the Sportsplex.

"We’ll have a lot of people traveling through Troy, so it’s important for us to remember travel safety tips," Everage said.

"The Troy Police Department will not just be concentrating our efforts on drivers," Everage said, adding personnel will be answering complaint calls in addition to any possible holiday problems.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas said his deputies will also set up checkpoints throughout the county. The increased patrols are being made possible because of grants money that will pay overtime.

"We hope we’ll have a very safe and quiet Fourth of July," Thomas said.

All available state troopers will also be on duty during the Fourth of July holiday to enforce traffic laws and to serve as visible reminders to drive safely.

Federal overtime grants aimed at speed, DUI, safety belt and work zone enforcement will be in effect during the holiday period.

Heavy traffic conditions are expected throughout the holiday and the summer travel season, so Troopers are asking motorists to drive with caution, obey speed limits, use safety belts and child safety seats and refrain from drinking and driving.

According to Col. James H. Alexander, director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, it is estimated seven people will be killed in traffic accidents during the 30-hour holiday period that will begin at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 3 and end at midnight, July 4.

In 2000, 20 people died as a result of traffic accidents during the 102-hour July 4 holiday. Sixteen of those deaths were on rural roads and four in urban areas. At least five of the deaths were alcohol related and nine of the victims were not using safety belts.

Alabama’s legal blood alcohol level is .08.

Troopers plan to concentrate patrols on vacation and beach routes, including interstates and U.S. 231 and 331 south of Montgomery.

In addition to patrol activity, Troopers will conduct driver license checkpoints and aerial speed enforcement. At checkpoints and when patrolling, Troopers will be watchful for compliance of child restraint and safety belt laws.

Alabama’s child restraint law requires a child safety seat for children through age 3 in front and back seats. Children ages 4 and 5 must be secured in a child safety seat or regular safety belt.

The state’s safety belt law requires all front-seat occupants to buckle up.