Deadly weekend in Louisiana highlights importance of holiday travel safety

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 7:30pm

The holidays are here, and there is anticipation in the air as families gather to celebrate across Louisiana. Your plans may involve a fall vacation or maybe you will stay home and get your Christmas shopping done early. But whatever your plans are this holiday season, make safety a priority.

"Thanksgiving is a special holiday that gives us an opportunity to reflect on our many blessings," said Colonel Mike Edmonson, State Police Superintendent. “Unfortunately, we often see an increase in the number of crashes due to an increased number of cars on the road as people travel for the holidays. Wearing a seatbelt while traveling is the single most effective thing that you can do to reduce the likelihood of being injured if you or your family is involved in a crash. Buckle up and travel safe.”

The holidays can bring out the best in people. Unfortunately when it comes to holiday travel, we sometimes see the worst. During the holidays, we see both types of driving behavior. Drivers may yield, letting you advance ahead of them. Shoppers may direct you to a parking space they are about to vacate. On the other hand, drivers can be aggressive due to the additional pressure that the holidays bring. There are planes to catch, holiday trips to take, shopping lists to complete and special performances and parties to attend. There is more temptation to speed, push through yellow lights and run a red light. Drivers may cut you off, take your intended parking spot and weave in and out of traffic.

Troopers want to take this time to remind you to drive defensively this holiday season, not aggressively. By driving defensively, you can significantly decrease your chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Here are some tips on how to make your commute safer this holiday season:

1) Make sure you maintain a safe following distance when behind vehicles and reduce your speed, especially during inclement weather conditions. By reducing your speed, you willdecrease your stopping distance and allow more time to react to sudden stops.

2) Always pre-plan your route if possible to avoid the added frustration of getting lost.

3) Make sure your vehicle is in good condition prior to leaving for your destination. This will reduce the chance of car trouble and keep you and your family from being stranded.

4) If you do encounter dangerous weather, think about finding a safe location to stop and get off of the roadway. We would rather you make it there safely than not at all.

5) If you encounter an aggressive or frustrated driver, simply put your pride in the back seat and let them by. Don’t challenge them. It will only make the roadway more dangerous for everyone.

Thirteen fatal crashes have been investigated by the Louisiana State Police since Friday. Many of these crashes involved unrestrained motorists and driver impairment. Troopers would like to remind motorists of the importance of being properly restrained at all times in every seating position in the vehicle and of designating a sober driver before traveling to a destination where alcohol will be consumed.

Motorists are encouraged to report aggressive or impaired drivers by dialing *LSP (*577) on their cellular phone or to contact their local law enforcement agency.

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