College students are ditching the books and packing the beach chairs.
Panama City is a hot spot. In a few weeks more than 600,000 people will enjoy the Gulf Coast.
But before hitting the pedal to the metal through the Wiregrass, Captain Hicks and Ozark P-D are upping their patrols hoping to get unsafe drivers off the road.
“People are in a hurry to get to the beach and by the time they get to us they have been driving 7 or 8 hours and they are only 2 hours from the beach so they tend to speed up and they are normally fatigued,” Hicks said.
On top of the driving too fast, “the fastest I’ve seen was 94 MPH,” he said, and groups of cars tailing each other, “a lot of times as they get closer to the beach they start partying ahead of time. Kids are hanging out the window.”
Hicks said its not about the tickets, they only write a handful more than usual, what it comes down to is safety.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety (last figure released is from 2009) says there are around 120,000 traffic accidents in a given year.
A number that Captain Hicks says they are trying to get down. “We try to be visible out here to cut down on the accidents. We want them to arrive at the beach safe and come back safe,” he said.
And even since Thursday Captain Hicks says they have seen more than double the typical amount of accidents on 231 in a short period of time. They hope their increased presence will help cut that number down.
The Ozark Police Department says they will keep more patrols on Highway 231 through Easter.