Travelers told to drive safely

Published 12:18 am Friday, July 3, 2009

As the roadways of Covington County fill up with Fourth of July travelers, local law enforcement agencies, as well as the Alabama State Troopers, are reminding residents to exercise patience and caution when heading out this weekend.

Along with routine patrols, troopers and at least three local agencies will conduct special enforcement operations such as line patrols, checkpoints and laser speed details from 6 p.m. Thurs., July 2, through midnight Sun., July 5.

Last year, 16 people lost their lives during the 78-hour Fourth of July holiday travel period. Of those, at least three of the deaths were alcohol-related and 11 of the crash victims were not using safety restraints.

Chief Deputy David Anderson of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office said his department is working a selective traffic enforcement to target impaired drivers and speeders.

“We want everyone to arrive at their holiday destination safely, and to ensure that, extra deputies will be on the roads,” he said.

Florala Police Chief Sonny Bedsole, whose department is participating in the blitz, said traffic was already bogging the streets of Florala on Thursday.

U.S. Hwy. 331 travels through the center of town is a direct route to the Florida beaches — the premier destination spot for most of the tourists coming through town.

“We have seen it backed up as far as a mile and half out of town on (State) Hwy. 55, all the way to Lockhart,” Bedsole said. “And this year, depending on the flow of traffic, the middle two lights in town put on caution to expedite traffic. Extra officers will be out on patrol just to make sure things go smoothly.”

Opp Police Chief Nickey Carnley said traffic on U.S. Hwy. 331 through Opp was “light to moderate” on Thursday, and he not expecting heavier traffic until Thursday night or today.

“But we will have officers out working overtime (Friday) on the bypass, which is being paid for by a traffic safety grant,” he said.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said Andalusia doesn’t generally experience a heavy flow of holiday traffic, but his officers will be out watching for normal violations such as speeding, seat belt violations and child safety restraint violations.