The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Troopers investigated 22 traffic deaths during the 2019 Christmas-New Year’s holiday travel period, from 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dec. 20, to midnight Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.
Crashes occurred in Baldwin, Barbour, Cullman, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Henry, Lamar, Mobile, Pickens, Randolph, Russell and Tuscaloosa counties.
Sr. Trooper Chuck Daniel says during the holiday season, there can be a rise in crashes.
"When you've got more people on the road, and more people are speeding, or more people are distracted, more people may be under the influence of something... then those crashes do occur and they tend to occur more times then usual during the year," says Daniel.
Troopers say they investigated 21 deadly traffic crashes during a 17-day period in 2018, showing there was a slight rise.
Daniel says the reasons behind the fatalities vary, but most of them weren't wearing seat belts.
"Some likely were driving under the influence, some likely were speeding," says Daniel. "There were 22, but 20 of those fatalities had a seat belt that was available to them and 14 chose not to wear one. They had a crash and they died as a result of that."
Although there were four zero-traffic fatality days – including Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – 22 individuals lost their lives. Among those killed was a 4-year-old, who died in an Etowah County crash. The others killed included 10 drivers, nine passengers and one pedestrian. One motorcyclist, who was using a helmet, also was killed.
Daniel says in 2019, state troopers worked over 33,000 crashes, saying it was the highest number in a decade.
"Speeding is the number one cause and with that, it's the number one cause of injuries and fatalities," says Daniel. Because of that, troopers say speed limit signs are more than a suggestion.
"It's not just there to impede people's flow, it's there to create a safe environment for people to travel in."
The 22 death total only represents traffic crashes troopers investigated. They say statewide numbers are not available.