Alabama Gov. Bob Riley commented this week on a federal highway safety report that shows an increase of about 15 percent in the number of traffic fatalities in the state from 2003 to 2004.
“The increase is obviously horrible and tragic. However, we should also remember that a year ago Alabama was on track to have a 30 percent increase in the number of fatalities on our roads and highways. In addition, the number of fatalities is down slightly from this point last year. Our stepped up enforcement efforts launched last summer clearly are having a positive effect,” Governor Riley said.
At the end of May 2004, highway deaths in Alabama were up 30 percent over 2003 and the Alabama Department of Public Safety was estimating that more than 1,300 would die on Alabama roadways in 2004 based on that mid-year trend.
The report released Tuesday from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said there were 1,154 traffic deaths in Alabama in 2004.
The number of traffic fatalities investigated by state troopers so far in 2005 stands at 445, which is a slight decrease from the 454 deaths recorded at this time last year. State troopers investigate fatalities on interstates in non-urban areas, federal highways, and county roads and state roads in rural areas.
Last summer, Gov. Riley enlisted sheriffs in all 67 counties and local police in 18 different cities along Alabama’s interstates to help state troopers enforce speeding and reckless driving laws.
“In addition to our stronger enforcement efforts, the Department of Transportation has made safety a priority. It is concentrating its work on improving sections of roads that have had a high incidence of fatalities. We still have much more to do, which is why I remain committed to funding the Department of Public Safety at a level that allows us to add 200 more troopers over the next two fiscal years,” the Governor said.
“I continue to be greatly appreciative of our state troopers, our sheriffs and our local police departments who are doing everything they can to keep us safe on the road,” Gov. Riley added.
Public Safety Director Colonel W.M. Coppage said enforcement is fundamental to ensuring safety on Alabama’s roadways. “Alabama’s state troopers save lives every day in enforcing our traffic laws. They slow down speeders, remove drunken drivers, ticket unbelted motorists and enforce a safer roadway environment,” said Coppage. “That is why Governor Riley’s commitment to hiring troopers and his enforcement initiatives are so important.”
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