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Troopers warn of rising fatalities

More people died in traffic accidents in the Black Belt last year than in previous years, causing concern among Alabama State Troopers that the death toll could continue to rise if drivers are not careful on the road.

Trooper John Reese said there were 17 traffic fatalities in the Black Belt region last year, compared to only four deaths in 2003.

Reese said there were four traffic deaths in Dallas County last year; seven in Wilcox County; Perry, Marengo and Hale counties each had two deaths.

“The fatality rates are way too high. Even one death is considered too many,” Reese said. “We are trying to concentrate on preserving life.”

Dallas County also surpassed the other counties in the number of traffic accidents and injuries.

Reese said there were 224 accidents in the county last year, with 126 injuries.

Wilcox County had 38 accidents with 32 injuries; Perry County had 49 accidents with 30 injuries; Marengo County had 57 accidents with 24 injuries; and Hale County had 55 accidents with 19 injuries.

Reese said there are more traffic accidents in the summer months than any other time of the year, and with budget cuts greatly reducing the number of troopers on patrol, drivers should use extra caution when traveling.

“With Memorial Day coming up at the end of this month, there are going to be more people on the road,” Reese said. “Drivers need to slow down, obey the traffic laws and caution against drinking and driving.”

Reese said more teens and young adults are drinking and driving than ever before, which troopers fear will lead to more traffic accidents this summer.

“There are going to be lots of kids out of school,” Reese said. “Which is why we are encouraging people to practice defensive driving.”

In the coming weeks, troopers will be promoting their “Click It or Ticket” campaign to remind drives about buckling up.

“People are still dying in accidents because they are not wearing their seatbelts,” Reese said.

Reese said one of the ways to prevent the rise of traffic fatalities or accidents this summer is to simply obey all the traffic laws.

“I just want to encourage everyone to be more safety cautions this time of year,” he said.