According to 247WallSt.com, Alabama ranks as the third most dangerous state for drivers. It says Alabama has a fatality rate of 21.7 people per 100,000 residents in Alabama’s population, but State Troopers say the report doesn't accurately represent traffic deaths in the state.
Sgt. Steve Jarrett with the Alabama State Troopers says over the past five years, traffic fatalities have dropped by 30-percent in Alabama.
While the report pegs Alabama at number three compared to second-place Montana at 23.3 and the most dangerous, neighboring state Mississippi at 26.7.
However, Sgt. Jarrett says the numbers are deceiving, because the population in some states like New York is not comparable to Alabama. “In New York, where they have a huge population, but the majority of that population uses public transportation,” Jarrett said, “’Unlike here in Alabama almost everyone has a vehicle.”
As of June 20, 2012 Sgt. Jarrett said compared to the same day in 2011, troopers have seen 38 less traffic fatalities, something he calls a “huge decrease.”
Jarrett attributes the drop to more troopers on the roads and getting safety campaign messages out to the public. He believes the fatality rates will drop even more after texting while driving becomes illegal in Alabama August 1st.
“When you have a vehicle that cross the median and hits another vehicle for no apparent reason, you find the cell phone and there in the middle of a texting conversation, then it’s pretty obvious,” Jarrett said.
It’s something veteran taxi-cab driver James Crenshaw Jr. sees every day on the roadways during his route for Yellow Cab. “I think there will be less accidents if [drivers] stop texting,” Crenshaw said. “Why not wait until you get off the road? You can’t do two things at one time. You might think you good, but you ain’t that good.”
Retired police officer John Gordon was passing through Montgomery from a trip to Pensacola, Florida. Gordon says he rides his motorcycle on the highways weekly. “They pay no attention, I've almost had people run right into me because of that, so bikers we got to drive a lot more defensively than we used to.”
Gordon says people should pull over to the side of the road to take phone calls or send text messages, “A split second is all it takes.”
Sgt. Jarrett says it’s normal for car crashes to rise during the peak of summer, but when you add the distraction of texting while driving, it can be a deadly combination.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Alabama will become the 39th state to prohibit texting and driving.