‘Pack your patience’

Published 9:25 pm Friday, June 29, 2018

“Pack your patience” because heavy traffic is expected throughout this holiday week, peaking on Tuesday, according to Clay Ingram, spokesperson for AAA Alabama.

He recommends that travelers add an extra hour or more into their traveling schedules.

“There’s going to be construction, there’s going to be wrecks and congestion,” Ingram said. “So, leave a lot earlier.”

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The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) is making an effort to reduce hazards for travelers.

ALDOT will have no temporary lane closures on Alabama interstates between noon on Tuesday, and midnight on Wednesday.

While construction work zones will not be active, work zone materials along the road and reduced speed limits will be in effect in many areas, ALDOT officials reported.

Several projects are ongoing along Interstate 65 and Interstate 85 throughout Alabama. National statistics show that four out of every five work zone fatalities are motorists, ALDOT reports.

ALDOT officials encourage travelers to track construction areas ahead of time, pay attention on the road and avoid distractions, drive slowly in heavy traffic, and make sure everyone is wearing a seat belt.

According to numbers from “Drive Safe Alabama,” about 60 percent of people that die in crashes on Alabama highways are not wearing a seat belt.

Remember to prepare for the journey ahead by reducing or eliminating potential distractions for the drive, Ingram said.

“If there’s someone else in the car let them handle the map reading, handing out snack to the kids, answering the phone, changing the radio station,” Ingram said.

Even when driving alone, it is important to drive with caution. Stay alert and don’t use phones. Ingram suggests utilizing the driving mode feature that comes with some cell phones that automatically responds to messages while driving.

“As Alabama highways fill with travelers around the Independence Day holiday, ALDOT is asking motorists to make safety the priority,” said Allison Green, Drive Safe Alabama coordinator, ALDOT. “While traffic delays are frustrating, making frequent or unsafe lane changes and tailgating increase your risk of causing a crash and don’t make a significant difference in how quickly you arrive.”

Drivers are advised to have their cars checked by a professional before hitting the road for a long trip, to prevent any potential mishaps on the road.

Things like belts and hoses can deteriorate on the inside, and wouldn’t be noticeable to the average person, Ingram said.

“If you don’t have time to take it in to get it checked, at least check as much of that as you can for yourself,” Ingram said. “Most people can check their fluid levels, tire pressure and that kind of stuff.”

Check wiper blades, as well. The south tends to experience frequent and sporadic rain this time of the year, Ingram said.

To assist drivers during the holiday and year-round, AAA has released a free phone application to help people book hotels, contact emergency services and save money on gas by tracking the lowest prices in the area, Ingram says.

“It’s free to any and everybody,” Ingram said. “You don’t have to be a member. You don’t have to sign up or give us your email or anything like that. No strings attached.”

46.9 million Americans will travel about 50 miles from home during this Independence Day holiday. That is a 5 percent increase since last year, and a record high since AAA starting tracking 18 years ago, according to a press release by AAA.

The southeastern region of the country tends to see the most road activity during this holiday, Ingram said.

“We get a ton of drive-thru traffic here, with people going to the beach or heading to Orlando,” Ingram said. “There’s all kinds of tourist destinations in the southeast. So, we get people from all over the country coming through here, in addition to Alabama residents who are on the road, going somewhere, as well.”

Track Alabama traffic and road condition information, including live traffic camera feeds by visiting www.ALGOtraffic.com or by downloading the ALGO Traffic app.

For more information, visit www.dot.state.al.us, DriveSafeAlabama.org or contact Clay Ingram with AAA at ingram.clay@aaaalabama.com.