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Troopers investigate fatalities

As the Thanksgiving holiday weekend came to an end, public safety and travel officials had to watch as a wet and snowy weather system rolled through the state, causing even more traffic havoc.

Over the holiday weekend, which began late Wednesday and ended Sunday, Alabama State Troopers reported five fatal accidents in the state, claiming six lives.

Deaths were reported in Mobile, Russell, Etowah, Washington and Madison counties. Two were killed in Etowah County.

Five of the six individuals killed, Troopers reported, were not wearing seat belts and in three of the deaths, alcohol was a factor in the accidents.

During the same holiday period in 2010, Trooper reported 12 fatalities.

On Monday, as portions of the state saw snow showers and the rest of the state saw plenty of wet driving conditions, AAA-Alabama sent out information, giving drivers advice on how to handle winter driving conditions.

“Because more crashes involving property damage occur during the winter months than any other time, AAA encourages, motorists to prepare for adverse cold weather driving conditions with three main steps — prepare your vehicle, plan your journey in advance and … be cautious while on the road,” AAA’s Clay Ingram said.

Among the vehicle tips AAA suggests includes:

Have your battery and charging system tested.

Have brakes checked.

Make sure tires are inflated properly.

Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times.

Carry your cell phone charger.

Among other suggestions, AAA also said driving habits in winter weather is crucial.

“When taking to the road during winter weather, remember to drive with caution to help maintain your safety as well of that of passengers,” Ingram said.

AAA offered a list of driving tips designed for when driving conditions worsen. They include:

If your tires lose traction, continue to look and steer in the direction you want to go. If the drive wheels start to spin or slide while going up a hill, ease off the accelerator slightly and then gently resume speed.

Look farther ahead in traffic. Actions by other drivers will alert you to problems and give you extra seconds to react.

When changing lanes, avoid cutting in front of trucks, which need more time and distance than passenger vehicles to stop.

Do not use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.

For more information on preparing your vehicle for winter weather and traveling in poor conditions, visit AAA.com.