(WKRG) — Despite predictions of increased travel during the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) is reporting fewer traffic-related deaths this year than in the past two years.

Troopers with ALEA’s Highway Patrol Division investigated seven traffic-related fatalities this year, compared to eight in 2020 and 11 during the same travel period in 2019 on Alabama’s roadways.

The 2021 official Thanksgiving holiday travel period began at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 24, and ended at midnight Sunday, Nov. 28. The fatal crashes happened in Mobile, Marengo, Chilton, Shelby, Escambia, Dekalb and Lawrence counties.

Of the seven fatalities, one included a 10-year-old Atmore boy dying in a crash on Highway 31, and another involved the driver of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) being ejected after leaving the roadway in Chilton County.

“Unfortunately, we are not able to report our goal of zero fatalities over the extended holiday weekend; however, I believe the decrease of fatalities over the years is a true testament to the agency’s pledge to save lives and prevent crashes, as well as a direct correlation to the unwavering commitment from Gov. Kay Ivey and our state’s legislature,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said in a press release.

With Christmas right around the corner, ALEA is providing these driving safety tips to ensure you make it home for the holidays.

• On multi-lane roadways, use the left lane for passing only. Not only is it courteous driving and avoids impeding traffic, but Alabama law also requires slower traffic to keep to the right and to only use the left lane for passing (when posted). Motorists can drive for a mile and a half in the left lane before needing to move back over.
• Alabama’s seat belt/child restraint law requires ALL passengers – no matter how old or which seat they are occupying – to be buckled up.
• Do not drink and drive. Make alternate travel plans if you are consuming alcohol. Individuals under the age of 21 are prohibited from consuming alcohol and it is illegal for anyone to have an open bottle of alcohol in a vehicle.
• Avoid driving distracted. Distractions include texting, utilizing a cell phone or smartphone, talking to passengers, watching videos, playing mobile games, adjusting the radio, navigation system or other devices. Distractions endanger drivers, passengers and bystander safety. Alabama law prohibits texting while driving as well as searching the Internet on a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.
• Drive defensively, as holiday travel may present additional challenges.
• Don’t drive fatigued – allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
• Monitor weather and road conditions wherever you are traveling. For road conditions/closings in Alabama, visit www.alea.gov/weather-advisories.
• Stay alert when shopping and driving through crowded parking lots. Stay vigilant and park in well-lighted areas when shopping at night. Citizens should lock their vehicles and remove any valuables, including money or wallets from plain sight. Slow down in congested parking lots and stay alert for shoppers and pedestrians.
• Move over when approaching emergency or tow vehicles. Alabama’s Move Over Law requires motorists to move over or slow down to 15 mph or less than the posted speed limit if you are not able to change lanes.