Reason to celebrate, but think before you drive

Ronald J. Dubois Sr.
May 19, 2008
Edna Besson
May 21, 2008

It’s hard to believe but Memorial Day Weekend is upon us.

The three-day weekend generally marks the beginning of summer. School is out, the temperatures are warming up and many people don’t have to work Memorial Day. It’s an ideal time to hit the road in search of fun.

Sadly, Memorial Day Weekend is also among the deadliest holidays on Louisiana roads. According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, May 2007 was the worst month for fatal crashes statewide last year.

Over the Memorial Day holiday last year, 85 alcohol-related crashes occurred. Authorities responded to eight highway deaths and 123 injuries on state highways.

Anyone keeping track over the Mother’s Day weekend knows this number pales in comparison to the 13 deaths we saw over a 72-hour stretch on roads in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. Alcohol use is suspected in a few, but most were caused by driver errors, namely speeding or carelessness.

Added to the mix this holiday weekend will be a number of fresh high school and college graduates. With their minds on partying and celebrating their final days of freedom before adulthood settles in, this young breed can bring a degree of inexperience and over-exuberance to the street. While we encourage our young people to enjoy the moment, we implore that they not do so behind the wheel of an automobile.

“The long Memorial Day Weekend and numerous other celebrations throughout May contribute to making the month a rough one for traffic fatalities,” said Lt. Col John LeBlanc, executive director of the commission. “A lot of families will be on the road traveling to beaches, vacation spots and celebrations, and we want everyone to drive with caution, avoid drinking and driving and buckle up so that they keep the holiday a safe one.”

With Louisiana’s 2008 Click It or Ticket campaign in full force, law enforcement authorities will be out this week watching for violators. Speeders, those driving recklessly or, heaven help us, under the influence of alcohol are gambling on being stopped.

As LeBlanc warns, “If you don’t buckle your seatbelt, you’re getting a ticket, and if you’re driving while intoxicated, you’re going to jail.”