Patrols more common in spring break

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring breakers headed to the beach are beginning to flood local roadways, and three area law enforcement agencies guarding the major thoroughfares between them and the beach are issuing this direction — drive safe or you will get a ticket.

River Falls police chief Greg Jackson said he and his men patrol U.S. Hwy. 84 and State Hwy. 55 and see an estimated 10,000 cars during a typical spring break weekend.

“This weekend was a prime example,” Jackson said. “It was bumper to bumper traffic on Hwy. 55. That is a direct route to the beach, and we see our share of unsafe drivers.

“Spring break is the time to party down at the beach, and there are a few who take it to the extreme and combine the experience with alcohol and drugs. Those don’t mix.”

Jackson said his department’s main focus when patrolling is targeting unsafe drivers.

“That means if they are speeding, driving erratically, whatever,” he said. “The majority of what we see is speeders, those who are following to close and a lot of people weaving in and out of traffic. Those people are in a lot of a hurry to get nowhere.

“They need to remember to drive safe,” he said. “That beach is going to be there when they get there.”

During the coming weeks, Jackson said roadblocks and license checks would be conducted.

“So be on the lookout when coming through River Falls,” he said. “Folks should know, if you have drugs and alcohol, get ready for a trip to the county jail. We’ve made seven arrests for misdemeanor drug charges during the last week, and we’ll make more.”

Motorists along State Hwy. 29 should also be on the lookout, especially if they are spending their break on the waters of Gantt Lake.

Gantt Police Chief Chris Byrd said his department’s main concern will be targeting impaired drivers.

“Especially those underage and driving under the influence,” Byrd said. “For us, around the lake, drinking is a big problem. So, we’re going to be watching our roadways for any type of traffic violation such as driving on the wrong side of the road or improper lane use.

“Be safe and be cautious this spring break,” he said. “Oftentimes those out forget that it’s not just their lives they’re impacting, it’s everyone on the roadways.”

Travelers along State Hwy. 55 should be cautious when entering Lockhart, Chief John Davis said.

Outside of speeders, his department’s main concern will be enforcing Alabama’s window tint law.

“Speeding is the number one thing — no matter what roadway they’re traveling,” Davis said. “People need to slow down when coming through these small towns. That is the number one reason people get stopped.

“As for the tint law, if they are from Alabama, if their window tint is too dark, they can get stopped,” he said. “A general rule is if you can’t see the driver, it’s too dark. And that’ll get you stopped.”