Highway crash toll to rise during Thanksgiving holiday

Norris Robichaux
November 19, 2007
Leon Sylvester
November 21, 2007

Dear Editor,

The combination of more people on the road and a long Thanksgiving holiday period results in a jump in the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on Louisiana highways.

Over last year’s 102-hour Thanksgiving holiday period, 12 people died and 802 were injured in crashes on Louisiana highways and streets. Put another way, during the last Thanksgiving holiday, Louisiana registered a crash involving a death or injury every 13 minutes.

Driving while under the influence and not wearing seat belts are two major factors in highway deaths. If everybody remained sober while behind the wheel and buckled up, our injury and death rates would be reduced drastically.

In an effort to reduce the fatality and injury rate over Thanksgiving, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has provided grants to 50 law enforcement agencies across the state to conduct overtime patrols. The commission is also sponsoring radio and television advertisements that emphasize that Louisiana law requires drivers, front-seat passengers and children to be buckled up or properly restrained in a child safety seat.

A total of 985 people were killed in highway crashes in Louisiana last year. Forty-six percent of last year’s highway deaths were alcohol-related, and 62 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts.

Aggressive driving – such as speeding and tailgating – is also a major factor in highway crashes.

A 2006 study by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development found that 79 percent of vehicles on the interstate highways on which surveys were performed were exceeding speed limits. On U.S. highways on which the speed study was conducted, 81 percent of vehicles were exceeding speed limits and 80 percent were exceeding speed limits on state routes.

Unfortunately, quite a few of the highway deaths in Louisiana include all three factors – alcohol, speed and non-use of seat belts. While most of motorists in Louisiana obey traffic laws, some continue to insist on engaging in risky behavior that can result in death or injury to themselves as well as innocent bystanders.

Col. James E. Champagne,

Executive Director,

Louisiana Highway Safety Commission