Celebrate the Fourth of July safely

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Fourth of July is almost here and with the festivities comes an influx of traffic and need for extra safety measures.

In the City of Linton, festivities exceed just July 4 as the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce works hard to offer a variety of entertainment for all ages.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell offered advice to keep residents safe and also enjoy the fun this Fourth of July.

One of the biggest safety concerns around the Fourth of July is the use of fireworks. Jerrell said each year, the department gets several complaints, most of which comes from the use of projectile-type fireworks being shot off in the direction of another person’s home.

Jerrell said on the Fourth of July, fireworks can be used until around midnight, but the rest of the year they should cease use by 11 p.m.

“Parents should be mindful of where their children are using the fireworks,” Jerrell said, noting children using fireworks should have adult supervision at all times.

Jerrell also urged fireworks users to be aware of the weather. Dry weather makes vegetation more flammable.

In addition to protecting property, Jerrell said parental supervision is essential to prevent someone getting injured by the fireworks.

“Emergency room visits on the Fourth are not fun for anybody,” Jerrell said.

Another important aspect of keeping yourself and others safe is paying attention to the roads motorist and foot traffic will increase in Linton and around the county.

First of all, Jerrell stressed, is to slow down and keep off of the electronic devices while driving. Texting and driving is illegal, but it is especially dangerous as more people are crossing the streets as thousands flock to Linton to celebrate Independence Day.

“We will be increasing patrol, and I will have my guys writing speeding and stop sign tickets, so be mindful,” Jerrell stressed.

Jerrell said motorists -- and pedestrians -- should be mindful of the fact foot traffic increases exponentially at Humphreys Park this time of year. He noted between people traveling to the park and the ball diamond, more people are crossing State Road 54.

“Pedestrians need to be extra careful as well. I don’t know the traffic count around the Fourth of July, but I bet it’s higher than we could imagine,” Jerrell said.

Jerrell added drinking and driving is also a common problem this time of year.

“If you’re drinking, have a plan for a sober driver. Just a DUI alone is extremely expensive, and God forbid there is an accident. The offense increases as well as the costs,” Jerrell said.

He also stressed golf carts are not a “safe haven” for drinking and driving. In fact, he added, an accident involving a golf cart because the driver is impaired could be even worse, especially if there is a cart full of people who are not strapped in. Plus, impaired drivers on golf carts, mopeds or other motorized vehicle, can be charged with a DUI.

Jerrell said golf carts are very popular this time of year. Golf carts must be registered with the Linton Police Department. The first year of registration is $50, with renewal $25 each year after. The department does an inspection before a permit is issued, which includes ensuring the cart has working head lights, tail lights and a slow-moving vehicle sign or flashing light.

Golf cart drivers must be licensed drivers.

“There is a $100 fine if a minor is driving the golf cart or if it is unregistered. It’s cheaper to just register,” Jerrell said.