Holiday safety prevails in county

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

State and local law enforcement officials in Covington County wrapped up the holiday Click-It Or Ticket campaign Sunday for the long New Year travel period.

Tommy Waters, Alabama State Trooper spokesperson, said troopers had predicted approximately 16 deaths on roads throughout the state. The actual number of deaths was one more than that prediction.

The Associated Press reported 17 people died in traffic accidents in the state from 6 p.m. Wednesday (New Years' Eve) to midnight Sunday. Ten of the persons who died were reportedly not wearing a seat belt.

None of the traffic deaths for the extended holiday period occurred in Covington County, and three busy regions in the county had no DUI arrests, officials reported.

"We ran line patrol with a heavy concentration on Opp Bypass and Hwy. 84," Mike McDonald, Assistant Opp Police Chief, said. "We mainly were looking for persons driving under the influence, speeders, and passengers not wearing a seat belt.

Luckily there were no DUIs, McDonald added.

"We made 41 stops in a 16-hour period," he continued. "These were speeding offenses mostly, followed by (unbuckled) seat belts, two suspended or revoked drivers' licenses, and three insurance violations."

According to McDonald, a few people who were stopped were tested for DUI, but the results all came back negative.

Although drivers passing through the Opp saturation patrol did fine for the most part, McDonald said the state did not do so well as a whole.

"I am aware of the (approximate) 34 people who died (during the combined Christmas and New Years' campaigns)," he commented. "That (the number of deaths) doesn't look good or speak well for Alabama.

"Seat belts could mean the difference between life and death," he added in response to the high number of those killed who weren't wearing seat belts.

Elsewhere in the county, there were more success stories with the campaign.

"Everybody (motorists) did pretty good," Red Level Police Chief David Anderson said. "Most people behaved, and there were no DUI arrests (at the points) during (this) holiday campaign."

Anderson said 35 tickets were written, most of which were for seat belts, speeding, drivers' and license violations.

"We issued a few warrants (for violations), but nothing big," he added. "There were no arrests (during the campaign)."

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams reported similar activity, or lack thereof, in Andalusia.

"We had a slow period," he said. "We had 12 citations and one arrest, but the majority of stops came from insurance violations. The next highest violation were revoked and expired licenses, followed by seat belt violations."

During the campaign patrol, it was rainy for most of the time, according to Williams.

"The weather had a lot to do with it. The rain cut down on traffic substantially," he said.

All local officials said the campaign was on overall success.

"It was a good campaign," Anderson said.

"It is a tremendous campaign, and we can put an officer or two on the roads to make them safer," McDonald added.

"We are very happy to have such a campaign, and we hope to receive more support and funds for its success in the future," Williams said.