Throughout the holiday season, millions of Americans will be on roadways traveling to spend time with family and friends. According to the American Automobile Association, 2021 is expected to be one of the busiest travel years due to new health and safety guidelines. An estimated 53.4 million people will travel this season compared to 47.1 million in 2020. This increase in travel could also potentially lead to an increase in motor vehicle crashes.
In 2020, nearly 800 people were injured and eight people were killed in fatal crashes in Louisiana during the Thanksgiving holiday period from November 25 to 29. In an effort to decrease the number of crashes and keep state roadways safe, Louisiana State Police will be proactively patrolling state highways during the Thanksgiving travel period, focusing on impaired driving and occupant protection, as well as aggressive and distracted drivers.
Last year, nearly half of fatal crashes investigated involved impaired drivers, accoridng to information from LSP. Alcohol and drugs can impair visual ability, alter sense of time and space, impair fine motor skills needed to operate a motor vehicle, and decrease reaction times, they said, adding troopers have a “zero tolerance” policy and those caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be arrested. Motorists are encouraged to either designate a sober driver or utilize an alternate ride home before consuming alcohol.
Louisiana State Troopers and local law enforcement partners will be working to enforce the state’s seat belt laws as part of NHTSA’s high visibility Click It or Ticket seat belt awareness campaign. Louisiana law requires all vehicle occupants to be properly restrained, regardless of their seating position, day or night. While not all crashes are survivable, LSP says wearing a seat belt is the single most effective action motorists can do to reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a crash. Troopers, along with the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, urge all drivers to ensure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained, "every trip, every time."
Aggressive driving behavior, such as speeding and distracted driving, are among the leading causes of highway crashes, according to LSP. Speeding and driver distractions can reduce a driver’s ability to react to a roadway hazard and extend their distance necessary to stop a vehicle, officials said, adding distracted driving can take many forms, but all remain extremely dangerous to everyone on the roads.
"As you plan your travel route this year, visit www.511la.org or dial 511 for the latest road conditions, including closures and construction," LSP said in a statement. "The Louisiana 511 phone app is also available for download. Motorists that witness hazardous road conditions or reckless drivers are encouraged to call *LSP (*577) and report that activity to the nearest Louisiana State Police troop location."
"Every day, troopers witness preventable crashes that lead to lifelong consequences. As you travel this Thanksgiving holiday period, we ask for your help in making Louisiana’s roadways safe. We are thankful to serve the citizens of Louisiana every day, and we hope you and your family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!"
To view LSP’s 2021 Thanksgiving Travel Safety PSA please click on the link below: