On Monday, Governor John Bel Edwards was joined by Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn D. Wilson to discuss the Department’s updated Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP).
The SHSP, which is updated every five years, identifies emphasis areas, strategies and tactics for reducing fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads across the state. This is developed with input from driver behavior safety experts, engineers, law enforcement personnel, emergency service providers and advocacy groups and is implemented is through ongoing activities by a variety of stakeholders and state agencies.
Preliminary data shows 971 people lost their lives due to a motor vehicle crash in the state last year. This is a 17% increase from 2020, where there were 828 fatalities. The state has experienced this highest percentage increase in one year since crash fatality records have been kept.
“The statistics are alarming,” said Gov. Edwards. “The loss of nearly 1,000 motorists on our roadways is devastating and a number that desperately needs to decrease and be non-existent one day. With the safety strategies implemented by our agencies and safety partners, we aim to make all Louisiana public roads safer—where no one is killed or seriously injured in traffic-related crashes.”
“The safety of our roadways and our motorists is of the utmost importance of this Department and this Safety Plan provides quantitative data for strategies on improving the safety conditions throughout the state,” said Wilson. “With the support of the Governor and our partners on the federal, state, and local levels, we continue to work towards eliminating traffic-related deaths and injuries. One death is one too many and it is our goal to reduce the number of crashes and severe injuries by 50% by 2030.”
“When poor decisions are made while driving or riding in a motor vehicle, the consequences can be far-reaching. A single bad decision by one individual can cause a devastating ripple effect of pain and suffering throughout an entire community of family, friends, and loved ones. Louisiana State Police works closely with our public safety partners to increase enforcement and provide public safety education; however, we need every motorist to partner with us. This means avoiding distractions while driving, maintaining a safe speed, ensuring every passenger is properly restrained, and never driving while impaired. Together we can make a difference and save lives,” said Colonel Lamar Davis, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.
“The increase in risky driving behavior, which we have seen in Louisiana and throughout the country, is as much a public health epidemic as any other community crisis,” said Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director Lisa Freeman. “The inherent tragedy of traffic fatalities is that they are preventable. Unsafe driving behavior doesn’t just happen. It’s a choice—a choice between driving sober or driving impaired; a choice between driving focused or driving distracted; a choice of buckling up and driving the speed limit or being unrestrained and speeding. We urge everyone to make the right choice—the only choice that gives us a chance at safely arriving at our destinations.”
Based on data for contributing factors associated with fatalities and injuries, the emphasis areas for the updated plan, which focus on older and younger drivers within each area, are distracted driving, impaired driving, occupant protection and infrastructure and operations, which includes roadway/lane departure, intersections, and non-motorized users.
Strategies for each of these areas will be implemented through data that identifies potential behavioral and/or infrastructure issues using policies, programs and projects to positively impact the number and severity of crashes and target solutions to the appropriate geography and demographic.
Some of these strategies include:
- Increasing education efforts and community outreach programs statewide and at local level
- Strengthen laws and public policies to prohibit risky behaviors such as distracted driving
- Increase accountability through enforcement or other methods
- Identify, develop and deploy engineering solutions along corridors found to experience severe crashes related to risky driving behaviors such as impaired driving or distracted driving
- Increase number of child passenger safety and CarFit technicians in the state and spread awareness to local communities
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