HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Millions of drivers plan to hit the roads this holiday season, and it can be one of the most dangerous times of the year.
Don't be distracted while driving on the roads
According to a recent survey - Alabama ranks as the 6th most dangerous state for holiday driving. That survey looked at the number of people killed in crashes during the month of November.
Madison City Police say they notice an increase in crashes especially before and after Thanksgiving. Maj. John Stringer says a big reason is distracted driving.
"Some of the things we'd like people to understand is eliminate the distractions in the vehicles," Stringer said. "Cell phones, music, even some conversations on long distance road trips can be a distraction and can reduce your reactionary time."
That reaction time is what can mean the difference between being involved in a crash and avoiding one.
Buzzed driving is a real concern
Another reason to keep distractions down while you drive - buzzed drivers on the road after a holiday party.
The Department of Transportation wants drinkers to be smart regarding a Thanksgiving cultural phenomenon. You may not have heard of the term 'Blackout Wednesday.' Simply, it's a term used the day before Thanksgiving where people drink and party a lot. It's part of what can make this long holiday weekend dangerous.
Police say it's not just drunk drivers they're looking for. The U.S. Department of Transportation wants everyone to know this holiday season - buzzed driving is drunk driving.
The police crack down on drunk driving
Starting at midnight Tuesday night, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will crack down on impaired drivers. That's not only people who are legally drunk.
It includes "buzzed" drivers - whose blood alcohol level is legally under the limit because alcohol could still affect coordination, vision and reaction time.
Troopers will conduct DUI checkpoints in order to limit alcohol involved crashes - between 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27 and midnight Sunday, Dec. 1.
In 2018, there were 482 traffic crashes during Thanksgiving weekend in Alabama alone.
"Understand that driving is a team sport and that we're all trying to get somewhere and we need to make sure we're all looking out for each other when we're on the roads," said Stringer. He said it's better to sacrifice a drink or your keys so everyone else in the car can be safe.
If you're in a crash - the consequences are the same if you're buzzed or drunk - you or someone else could get hurt. Officers say your best bet is a designated driver.
ALEA wants you to keep 6 things in mind
- Obey the law: Do not speed, follow too closely or make illegal lane changes. These are among top deadly driving behaviors.
- Buckle up: No matter how short the trip, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained. (As of Sept. 1, 2019, state law requires occupants of all ages to use a seat belt or child-restraint system.)
- Put away the phone and other distractions: Make safety a priority. When behind the wheel, do not text or do anything but focus on the task of driving.
- Prepare for congestion: It is not uncommon for traffic to be heavier than usual during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. Allow additional time for congestion along your route to and from your holiday destination.
- Use caution in construction zones: ALDOT will have no temporary lane closures for road work on interstates from noon Wednesday, Nov. 27, to midnight Sunday, Dec. 1. Still, be extra cautious when traveling through these areas, and obey posted speed limits.
- Enjoy the holiday: Do, however, think before you drink, and drive safely to #ArriveAliveAlabama.