Highway safety programs are saving lives

Highway safety programs are saving lives

POSTED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 7:00am

UPDATED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 7:04am

The people of Louisiana have achieved four consecutive years of reduced traffic fatalities.

Louisiana's traffic deaths peaked at 993 in 2007, then went down for the following four years. In 2011, 676 people died in crashes in the state–317 fewer than in 2007. The nation as a whole also experienced declines in highway deaths during part of this period.

There are a multitude of reasons for these declines, some of which include increased use of seat belts and airbags, more safety features built into cars, better-engineered roads, and improved driver behaviors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and agencies such as the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission have worked hard to implement effective safety programs – ones that save lives. Among the more high-profile programs sponsored are the periodic crackdowns – especially during some holiday periods – on DWI and seat belt enforcement.

In 2012, resident seat-belt use reached an all-time high of 79 percent. About 12 percent of Louisiana motorists were buckling up in the mid-1980s, prior to enactment of laws requiring seat belt use.

There has also been a reduction in the percentage of fatal crashes in which alcohol played a role.

In 2011, 41 percent of Louisiana crash deaths involved alcohol, down from 45 percent in 2007. With almost 30,000 DWI arrests in Louisiana in 2011, more and more drivers are getting the anti-drunk driving message.

Early data on 2012 crashes indicate a slowdown in the trend of reduced highway deaths in the state. The experts who gather this crash data for the state tell us that year-to-year fluctuations are to be expected. 

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