Editorial

The statistics concerning the driving habits in Cullman County are alarming.

From Alabama State Troopers reporting that 53 people died on Cullman County rural roads and Interstate 65 from January 2017 through June 20, to the Cullman Police Department tallying seven in the same period, a lot of bad things are happening on local roads.

Troopers are quick to note that high rates of speed and the failure to wear seat belts are a leading cause of traffic deaths. They also know that distracted driving, which can be anything from texting to sightseeing are major concerns.

In the city, drivers follow too closely to other vehicles, accounting for the leading cause of accidents. Police also reported that improper lanes changes, failure to yield right-of-way and running red lights are common, with the latter the growing area of concern for patrol officers.

And, of course, the use of alcohol and drugs continue to play a role in accidents. Police officers are also frustrated by state laws that make distracted driving difficult to prosecute.

First-responder vehicles can be seen frequently at all hours hurrying down local roads to reach the scenes of accidents. Another frequent problem is the high rate of speed on county roads, motorists rushing to get through traffic signals as lights change, and the failure to slow down in speed zones in the most congested areas of the city.

State and local law enforcement officers need more support from Alabama lawmakers to make a dent in the deadly driving situation in Cullman County. The use of cell phones, failure to slow down and not wearing seat belts should land offenders in remedial driving classes for starters.

The roads are much more crowded than 10 years ago because of the retail and restaurant growth as well as the medical services offered here. But drivers don’t seem to be adapting to the changes.

Phone use in automobiles should be restricted with tough laws and enforcement. If more troopers and other officers are needed to watch the roads, that should happen as well.

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