Thursday, March 26, 2015 | 6:03 AM
Between now and the end of April, schools across Alabama and neighboring states will observe spring break, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) expects heavier-than-usual traffic on Alabama roadways and waterways.
Alabama State Troopers strongly encourage teens and their parents to make safety a priority.
“Parents, we need your help to make spring break season a safe one," Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said. "Let’s take a few minutes to go over traffic laws and boating with our teens, especially if they plan to travel with teen friends. Remind them to buckle up, to focus on the road, to avoid such distractions as texting while driving and to obey speed limits and other traffic laws.”
In addition, Collier said parents should ensure everyone understands boating laws and uses life vests when on the water. "The risk of water-related injuries increases as water traffic increases, so we all must be cautious when spending time at the lake or beach."
And, he continued, because alcohol is the primary contributing factor in more than 60 percent of boating crashes, it is important to assign a designated boating operator before even setting out on a trip. While making plans, parents and other adults should be prepared to restrict access to alcohol and closely monitor teens to prevent under-age use.
Collier said this also is the time for everyone to review the state's Graduated Driver License law, a three-stage licensing process that places certain restrictions on young drivers to ensure they acquire experience behind the wheel before driving without supervision or restrictions:
Stage I (learner’s permit): A teen is authorized to drive when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driver age 21 or older who is occupying the front passenger seat.
Stage II (restricted license): A teen age 16 or 17 who has passed the road skills test may drive without supervision, but he or she must not have more than one passenger in the vehicle other than parents, legal guardians or family members; must not use any handheld communication devices while driving; must not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driver age 21 or older.
Stage III (unrestricted license): A teen age 17 who has held a Stage II license for six months or longer may obtain an unrestricted license. Anyone who is age 18 or older may bypass the first two stages and obtain a Stage III license after passing the road skills test.
For further information on Alabama's boating, traffic and drinking laws, please visit www.alea.gov.