Trooper urges safety during spring break

By James Phillips, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 3/18/17

Spring Break is all about relaxation and recreation, but the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) urges everyone to play it safe.

Alabama motorists should expect busier roadways and waterways across the state from now through the end of April as …

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Trooper urges safety during spring break

Posted

Spring Break is all about relaxation and recreation, but the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) urges everyone to play it safe.

Alabama motorists should expect busier roadways and waterways across the state from now through the end of April as families and high school/college students head to the beach, lake or other warm-weather attraction for a little spring break fun.

ALEA officials will work to ensure public safety, with Alabama State Troopers enforcing state laws and assisting motorists and boaters.

“This is always a busy time for our roadways,” Senior Trooper Johnathan Appling said while observing traffic in Walker County on Thursday. “We always stress it, but there are four things that contribute to most fatal accidents, and they are distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence and not wearing seat belts. Those are things that we talk about all the time, but we have to continue to talk about it, because those are contributing factors that we see every day.”

Appling said a focus for troopers during spring break week is younger drivers.

“Most of the teenagers and young adults in our area are good kids, but they can find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time more than adults sometimes. Good kids make mistakes all the time,” he said. “Underage drinking can be a problem during this week, and that is something that we are not going to tolerate, especially when someone gets behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

With students out of class for the week, Appling said parties are also an issue oftentimes.

“Parents need to understand that they are responsible for their children,” Appling said. “If there are parties being held and underage drinking is taking place in a home, those parents are the ones responsible.”

Another key to a safe spring break, according to Appling, is a clear understanding of the state’s Graduated Driver License law, a three-stage licensing process that places certain restrictions on young drivers who need time to acquire experience before driving without supervision or restrictions:

•Stage I (learner’s permit): A teen is authorized to drive when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driver age 21 or older who is occupying the front passenger seat.

•Stage II (restricted license): A 16- or 17-year-old who has passed the road skills test may drive without supervision, but he or she must not have more than one passenger in the vehicle other than parents, legal guardians or family members; must not use any handheld communication devices while driving; must not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driver age 21 or older.

•Stage III (unrestricted license): A 17-year-old who has held a Stage II license for six months or longer may obtain an unrestricted license.

Anyone who is age 18 or older may bypass the first two stages and obtain a Stage III license after passing the road skills test.

Appling, a Walker County native, said there have been nearly 120 fatal accidents in Alabama in 2017. He hopes that number doesn’t climb higher in the next week, especially in his home area.

“I care about our entire state, but I specifically care about Walker County,” he said. “I love this county. I love the people here. I want them to be safe and respectful on the roadways. My family still lives here, and I live here. I am going to do my part to make sure that people are safe on our roadways.”