Troopers urge safety after recent rise in traffic fatalities

Local News

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) —  Alabama State Troopers are warning drivers to be extra careful after several fatal wrecks over the past week.

According to statistics from ALEA, 283 people have died in crashes so far in 2017; compared to 259 this time last year.

In addition to fatalities, there have been almost 200 more wrecks on highways so far this year compared to last.

The latest fatal wreck was Friday afternoon in Cullman County. The Cullman County Coroner identified the victims as Rachel Kelly, 24, and Matthew Waid, 24. Both were from Vinemont.

Troopers said the wreck occurred because one of the vehicles crossed the center line. The crash remains under investigation.

Friday’s wreck took place in front of Dale Crutchfield’s house. He was working when it happened.

“You’ve got two blind spots here and people do not slow down,” said Crutchfield.

Orange spray paint is all that remains from the wreck. Crutchfield said there was another fatal wreck at the same location last year.

“It makes us worry every day when we pull out, if we’re going to pull out at a safe time,” said Crutchfield.

Troopers said recent wrecks have been caused by a range of problems from speeding to distracted driving.

While one of the wrecks is believed to be from texting and driving, cell phone are not always to blame.

“There’s still lots of distractions out there, if you don’t know how fast you’re going, you’re distracted. If you don’t know if you’re restrained or not, if everybody’s restrained, or if you’re children are restrained, you’re distracted,” said Trooper Chuck Daniel.

Daniel said county roads see more fatalities than interstates. He’s encouraging drivers to slow down and leave plenty of space between vehicles.

Following too closely is another big problem. Troopers will be out in numbers over the coming months, but drivers also play a big role in limiting the number of accidents.

“We’re in the 100 days of summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day and in that 100 days we will see the highest number of fatalities for the year,” said Daniel.

Neighbors in Cullman County are hopeful drivers heed troopers’ warnings and are thinking about the victims still recovering in the hospital.

“Prayer is the only thing we have, the good lord it’s in his hands,” said Crutchfield.

Investigators have not released conditions for 4 other people involved in Friday’s accident.

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