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LSP: Responsible decisions are essential this Fourth of July

LSP: Responsible decisions are essential this Fourth of July

POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 7:30pm

UPDATED: Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 1:10pm

As communities across our state prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, Louisiana State Troopers are partnering with local law enforcement in a cooperative effort to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for everyone. With the onset of Fourth of July activities comes an increase in traffic on our highways and social gatherings across the state. The festivities can also lead to an increase in alcohol consumption resulting in poor decisions both while behind the wheel and as pedestrians.

In an effort to reduce alcohol related crashes this Fourth of July holiday, law enforcement agencies across the state are working together to save lives by keeping impaired drivers off the road and promoting safe walking practices to citizens of all ages.

“While the removal of impaired drivers from our roadways remains a constant priority for Troopers and our law enforcement partners, recent pedestrian crashes across our state highlight the importance of being safe while walking or standing near highways,” explains Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson.

As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian crash fatalities have declined dramatically since 1975, but still account for thirteen percent of crash deaths. Considering nearly three-fourths of pedestrian fatalities occurred in an urban setting and almost ninety percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during normal weather conditions, Troopers urge partygoers to remain vigilant when near busy roadways especially after the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Similar to the dangers of impaired driving, pedestrian impairment plays a major role in the occurrence of crashes with alcohol involvement reported in forty-eight percent of pedestrian fatalities nationwide. Fifty-one percent of pedestrians sixteen and older killed in 2010 had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent.

Citizens across Louisiana are urged to remember the importance of personal safety and responsibility both as drivers and pedestrians keeping in mind several safety tips while enjoying the festivities.

Plan a safe way home before the party begins;

  • If driving, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely;
  • When possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk stopping to look left, right, and left again before crossing;
  • Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing reflective clothing that helps to highlight body movements;
  • Pedestrians walking along a non-interstate highway are required to utilize sidewalks where accessible or walk along the left shoulder as far away from the roadway as possible;
  • Pedestrians should walk against the flow of traffic, wear light colored clothing, and stay out of the travel lanes at all times.
  • In addition, Louisiana law prohibits pedestrians from walking upon any interstate highway regardless of lighting and road conditions.

According to statistics from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, crash deaths during last year's Fourth of July holiday in Louisiana more than tripled over the previous two years with alcohol use as a factor in a majority of those fatalities. To combat this tragic increase, Troopers and law enforcement officials will be utilizing overtime grants to increase patrols and conduct specialized enforcement activities such as numerous DWI checkpoints planned across the state. In addition to increased DWI enforcement, troopers will be focusing on motorists not wearing seat belts, unrestrained children in vehicles, and any dangerous behaviors on the part of drivers and pedestrians.

“Troopers statewide will be watchful for dangerous conditions throughout the weekend; however, it is the individual responsibility of each citizen to make good decisions while enjoying the Independence Day holiday,” emphasizes Colonel Edmonson.

To report impaired drivers or unsafe roadway conditions, dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you.

Citizens and visitors are also urged to enroll in Nixle Alerts for real time updates on roadway closures, crash locations, and pertinent safety information for their region of the state. To enroll visit www.nixle.com, complete the required information, and select Louisiana State Police as your agency.

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