ALEA: Spring into safety and ‘Think Smart Before You Start’

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is kicking off its fourth annual ‘Think Smart Before You Start’ spring safety campaign as students of all ages and their families prepare for end-of-the-school-year festivities such as spring break, prom and the upcoming graduation season. Ideally, parents should also set aside time with their teens to ensure safety is always part of their plans whatever the event or function.

Amidst the excitement and changing of the seasons, ALEA would like to remind everyone to prioritize safety and be mindful of inexperienced drivers, as well as novice boaters when enjoying the water. It is during this time of year that ALEA’s Driver License Division often sees an increase in the issuance of driver licenses. Many of which will be issued to teens who may have substantial travel plans for spring break or end-of-the-year trips.

ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said, “As law enforcement, we have a responsibility to ensure our roadways and communities are safe. This is especially true during the spring season when many teens are obtaining their license and embarking on their first significant journey behind the wheel. We recognize the importance of instilling responsible driving behaviors from the start and encourage parents to join us in reinforcing safety by having serious discussions with their children, as well as any young or inexperienced drivers they mentor.”

ALEA’s Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Director, Colonel Jonathan Archer agreed and said, “Unfortunately, I have observed first-hand the devastating consequences of inexperienced drivers who lack the overall knowledge, skills and ability to safely operate a vehicle. We continue to see lives lost as a result of driving behaviors that are developed early on through poor choices. Whether it involved speeding, failure to wear seat belts, distracted or driving impaired, these crashes ended with the same result and loved ones whose lives were changed forever.”

He continued and said, “We see the same issues as it relates to those planning to enjoy the state’s waterways as the temperature continues to warm up. To ensure everyone has a smooth sail, let’s prioritize courtesy! Be mindful of new boaters, wear your life jackets (PFDs), and if enjoying drinks, designate a sober captain. We want everyone to have a safe time enjoying Alabama’s waterways.”

ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division is currently offering its annual Boating Basics and License Course where individuals can earn their boating license while interacting with local Troopers and learning important information on any challenges or issues that may be faced when navigating bodies of water in the area. Classes are free to the public, however, to add the vessel endorsement to an Alabama Driver License, a one-time application fee of $5 cash will be charged and there is a $36.25 issuance fee for the updated license. Children 12 years old or older are eligible for a vessel operator’s license, however, they will not be able to operate alone until the age of 14. For more information or to enroll in a class near you, please visit: Marine Patrol | Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (alea.gov).

In addition to educational boating courses, ALEA Troopers have been working to amplify the dangers of drinking and driving, along with other dangerous behaviors, at various mock crash events at schools across the state.

“Oftentimes mock crash events become emotional for the teens and especially the parents involved in the exercise. Our Public Affairs Officers share their knowledge at these events, along with their own tragic personal experiences in an attempt to drive home and illustrate the effects a few bad decisions can have on not only the teens themselves, but those around them.

One of the many goals of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is to prevent crashes in order to save lives. We must do more to keep our teens and young adults safe,” Secretary Taylor continued. “We ask everyone to join us in prioritizing safety and think smart before you start.”

Seven spring safety tips

  1. Safety first! Review the law and discuss safety before your teens make plans for spring break, prom or graduation; and be sure you are aware of the route they will take, estimated arrival times, etc.
  2. Buckle Up – no matter how short the trip. Everyone traveling in a vehicle in Alabama must buckle up.
  3. Cell phones down. Avoid all distractions and focus on driving.
  4. Obey the law. Follow speed limits, avoid following too closely, do not make illegal lane changes, use the left lane for passing, and move over for emergency vehicles.
  5. No DUI! Hand over the keys if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (Did you know over the counter and prescription drugs can have the same effect as alcoholic beverages?) If you feel different, you drive differently.
  6. Have the conversation. Parents should take an opportunity to share with their children how the consequences of their decisions can affect not only their lives, but the lives of others.
  7. Monitor your teens if alcoholic beverages are around, particularly during prom and graduation seasons. Prior to the prom and/or graduation gatherings, remind teens not to accept rides from anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (Discuss a Plan B should this occur, whether it is to call home for a ride or to call a ride-share service.)