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Police urge caution as school traffic returns

Troy police are asking drivers to be aware that traffic is likely to pick up with the start of Troy City Schools and Pike Liberal Arts School Thursday and Troy University next week.

“The Troy Police Department will have officers stationed at the same locations to work traffic as last year,” said Troy Police Department. “The department will also be monitoring traffic on George Wallace Drive at Charles Henderson High School after the completion of work at that location over the summer. McKinley Drive is not yet open to traffic but should be completed in the very near future.”

Barr said it can take over two weeks for drivers, and officers, to get back in the routine of traffic.

“Please leave home early enough to give yourself extra time for delays or any other unseen problems that may come about,” Barr said. “Use turn signals to let the officers working traffic know your intentions. Always wear your seat belt and make sure your children are buckled up as well.”

It is extremely important, Barr said, not to be distracted while driving.

“Do not let cell phones, radios or other electronic devices divert your attention away from your driving,” Barr said. “Operate your vehicle within the posted speed limits or slower if necessary. Watch for pedestrian traffic near school zones and on campus at the schools.”

Vehicle crashes and fatalities are rising sharply in Alabama and across the country, and distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for this alarming trend. The National Safety Council preliminary 2017 data shows that motor vehicle deaths surpassed 40,000 for the second consecutive year in 2017 and 4.57 million people were seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes. In 2016, the crash fatality rate in Alabama was higher than the national crash fatality rate.

A recent study by Zendrive, an analytics company, found that on an average day, more than 60 percent of people use their phones at least once while behind the wheel. Based on United States Census data, this means that at least 69 million drivers use their phones while driving each day.

“Every time we get in the car, we see people texting or talking on their cell phones,”said Logan McFaddin, the Alabama regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. “Increasingly, drivers are also posting on social media, scrolling through playlists, live streaming video, and binge-watching television shows instead of giving their full attention to the road.”

According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.

“Distracted driving crashes — and the resulting fatalities and injuries — can be prevented,” said Stephanie Tompkins, a consumer complaint specialist at the Alabama Department of Insurance. “But to do that, our driving habits need to change. Finishing our phone calls, sending our texts, and setting our music and maps before putting the car in drive are some of the simplest and most effective actions we all can take to prevent crashes.”